Joseph T. Colonel (EE ’15)
On August 11, Campus Safety Services notified faculty, staff, and students that the Cooper Union was dissolving its contract with FJC Security Services Inc. and contracting Beau Dietl & Associates to provide on-campus security. Sent out via campus-notice, the email states that Cooper’s decision to switch firms stemmed from, among other points, a desire to update Cooper’s security protocols and surveillance systems. FJC stated in the email that they “are proud to have served the Cooper Union since 2005 and wish the community all the best as it moves forward with this transition.”
Students, faculty, and alumni of the Cooper Union voiced concerns over the hiring of the new security firm. Many pointed to the inflammatory statements made by Robert “Bo” Dietl during repeated appearances on Fox News. In 2007, Dietl weighed in on racial profiling by saying, “And I’m sorry, if I see two guys that look like Abu Daba Doo and Aba Daba Dah, I’m gonna pull ‘em over, and I wanna find out what you’re doing.” More recently, Dietl appeared on a panel to discuss the militarization of police during the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, defending the actions of Darren Wilson by saying that “bullets go that way.” Others suggested that such a high profile security firm as B.D.A. seemed unnecessary for a campus which has had only two crimes reported to campus authorities since 2007 (http://cooper.edu/sites/default/files/uploads/assets/site/files/2013/CampusSafety_13-14_V.3.pdf). Others still pointed to the firing of Owen Solomon, longtime security guard at the Cooper Union, as an unacceptable consequence of the transition to hiring B.D.A.
William E. Mea, Vice President of Finance and Administration, sent out a campus-notice on August 22 in an attempt to address the concerns of the Cooper Community. Mea writes, “We employed B.D.A. security because we believe that Cooper must become more vigilant than we have been about public safety. B.D.A. has a strong record for thoroughness and professionalism, evidenced by prior work at Cooper […]. This is an era in which we cannot take for granted that this community will be secure against the dangers that have visited this city or campuses around the country.”
The Joint Student Council met on September 17 to discuss the administration’s handling of security related issues. The JSC issued a resolution calling for the return of Owen Solomon to his previous post at the Cooper Union, the phasing out of B.D.A. from use at Cooper, the creation of a search committee (made of students, faculty, and staff) to “maintain governance regarding future campus security issues and changes,” and a review of the “financial details regarding the transition from FJC to BDA.”
On September 20, Mea sent out another campus-notice email informing the Cooper Community that Cooper would transition to a new security firm and employ B.D.A. in the interim. Mea writes, “We regret that we did not anticipate the sensitivities expressed by members of the Cooper community about some of Mr. Dietl’s public statements. However, we recognize the significance of these concerns in the context of our campus climate, particularly during this tumultuous period in Cooper’s history.” No statement was made regarding the status of Owen Solomon.