Santa Clara University (SCU) administration has apologized on behalf of a campus safety officer who displayed a Blue Lives Matter emblem during a Zoom meeting about diversity.
After students pointed out the pro-police symbol, only African American law professor Margaret Russell reacted, assuring them that the employee would be held responsible for his actions. Nearly 200 people were present in the meeting when the incident occurred.
Blue Lives Matter, created in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, advocates sentencing those convicted of killing police officers under hate crime laws.
In reaction to the incident, SCU officials released a statement reassuring students that the university’s Inclusive Excellence Student Advisory Council (SCUIESAC) collaborates with SCU administration to give students, faculty, and staff a safe space for discussing racial justice and learning from student experiences.
“These are vital conversations that can and should build understanding and help us move forward in our goals,” said the statement regarding the diversity forums.
In one such meeting on October 28, assistant director of Campus Safety Services John Loretto had a postcard with the Blue Lives Matters symbol displayed on a bookshelf behind him. Administrators stated that the emblem “is widely considered to be an effort to undermine the Black Lives Matter movement and its universally important goals.”
Administration assured the university community it is currently conducting an audit of Campus Safety Services’ practices and procedures, telling Fox News it is “steadfast” in its “commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing” of students and “to building a Santa Clara community where all are welcome.”
Reactions to the Incident
SCU’s Advocacy for Workers on Campus (AWC), a group promoting the protection of workers’ rights on campus, stated that they do not support Loretto’s “racist and cruel” behavior in a post on Instagram.
The post explained that when students pointed out the presence of the Blue Lives Matter symbol, Loretto “unabashedly supported the anti-Black symbol.”
“One of the directors of Campus Safety brought a white supremacist symbol into a safe space for [Black, indigenous, and people of color] members of SCU,” the group said. “AWC DOES NOT support this racist and cruel behavior and extends its support to any SCU community member who has been impacted by this.”
The AWC also demanded that SCU fire Loretto.
SCU’s Inclusive Excellence Student Advisory Council also spoke out on Instagram, saying that while SCU has committed to being an anti-racist institution, “from the actions demonstrated last night, this is clearly not the case.” The council condemned “the racist actions and ideologies held by John Loretto.”
SCU’s College Republicans, however, tweeted that it is “beyond disappointed” in the university and associated clubs’ response of “labeling of support for police officers ‘racial hatred’ and calling for the firing of our campus safety officers.”
The club declared its “firm” support for law enforcement and that they are “ashamed” of the university for its response to the incident.