Glue-Gun Incident at Colgate Prompts Concern About Racial Profiling

Colgate University on Tuesday asked its campus-safety director to take a leave of absence as it investigates an incident of alleged racial profiling, and the subsequent response to it, on the New York campus.

On Monday evening a student called the university’s campus-safety office to report that a “black male” with what appeared to be a gun had been seen, according to a university statement. An alert sent out to students said there was an emergency, and another erroneous message warned of an “active shooter on campus.” The report led to an hourslong lockdown of the campus.

It was later revealed that the reported weapon was actually a glue gun that the student needed for an art project. Campus-safety officers ended the lockdown after that revelation. Bill Ferguson, who led the university’s security, was then asked to take an administrative leave.

“It is important that we understand the role that implicit racial bias had in the initial reporting of and responses to the events of last night,” said Colgate’s president, Brian W. Casey, in the statement, adding that the university would be in touch with those who had made and received the initial report. “More egregiously, perhaps,” he continued, “was the effect profiling had on the response of safety officers and other university offices to these events.”

“Communication and enforcement steps were taken that, I believe, confused and harmed this campus and our students,” Mr. Casey said.

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