John Applegate, Indiana University Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs, welcomed everyone and congratulated cadets during the graduation ceremony on Aug. 12 for the 44th Class of the IU Police Academy. He then offered these remarks.
The campus and the wider community
The movie set version of a college campus is one of stately buildings, protected from the world, and young students hurrying to class with books tucked under their arms. When it comes to painting that picture, the campus where we are meeting today, is about as good as it gets. And yet, the longer I work in a university environment, the more similarities I see between the campus community and our larger society.
The modern university is no longer a scene from the movies, and, really, it never was. In fact, as we all know, some of the most important social issues that our country faces have been worked out on college campuses. I hope that you have heard, for example, how IU’s Bill Garrett broke the color barrier in Big Ten basketball, and how President Herman B Wells worked to desegregate student life. Activism on all kinds of issues – from the environment, to war, and everything in between – is also part of what we see, and expect, and value, in university life. It is also a time in life that many students explore new ideas and new freedoms, and up to a point, this is one of the main reasons that students come to college in the first place.
And so, in our campus communities -- among students, faculty and staff -- we see a reflection of society: the same economic struggles; the political polarization and discontent that have become so familiar to us; and the same dangerous, and potentially deadly, habits and behaviors that afflict all communities. Universities are not tucked away and cloaked in ivy; they reflect our broader society with all of its challenges.
This means that campus environments call for a police force of individuals who are highly trained law enforcement professionals, at a minimum. A campus requires officers who can bring a special awareness of the university context to every situation, professionals who can read a situation and determine whether strict enforcement or flexibility is called for -- always looking to de-escalating conflict.
Every so often, we hear calls for police officers to be less restrained and less self-controlled -- in other words, to be more like the bad guys. Let me be clear: tempting as they may seem in the heat of the moment, these are calls for you to abandon your professionalism. It is your job to uphold the rule of law at all times, to introduce calm and order to tense situations, and to be the outstanding example of self-control when others are not. You are professionals, and it is your professionalism that commands respect in challenging circumstances.
It is a tall order to practice self-control in your actions and your emotions, and to project confidence -- a confidence that asserts authority -- while at the same time de-escalating a situation. But I am completely confident that you can and will do it. It comes from deep commitment to the rule of law and to the community you serve, and from having excellent training. Your being here today is proof that you have mastered those skills.
There is a final important way in which campuses reflect the larger community. For people, anywhere, to achieve their potential, they must feel safe [Maslow hierarchy of needs]. The things we most expect from a university -- exploration, creativity, personal growth, and innovation -- can only thrive in an inclusive, caring, flexible, and safe environment. So, IUPD makes it possible for IU to fulfill its promise to its students and to the state, because you help to provide the environment necessary for our students to explore their new freedom and experience the best that college has to offer.
That’s what you have been training for. It is the example that has been modeled for you at IUPD. And, today, you are ready to take your place in this very important and very special organization. I extend to you my hearty congratulations today for all that you have accomplished, and also express my gratitude for the important work that you will accomplish in service to this great university.
The IU Police Academy has graduated more than 1,200 law enforcement officers since its first ceremony in 1972. These graduates have moved on to work in all levels of law enforement, from local to federal agencies. Learn more
IU Public Safety is part of Public Safety and Institutional Assurance, which falls under the Office of the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs and the Office of the Vice President for IT and CIO.