More Questions than Answers

Questions for the University of Cincinnati community in the wake of the Tensing trial.

Guest Contributor: Robin Martin, UC Associate Professor

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Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has decided to retry Ray Tensing for the murder Samuel DuBose after a mistrial.  As this process unfolds, it is time for UC employees, the city of Cincinnati and universities across this country to revisit the core principles of inquiry and questioning and start blazing a different trail toward justice.

On July 19, 2015, Tensing, an employee of the University of Cincinnati, stopped and killed an unarmed human being. On Nov. 12, 2016, a group of 12 citizens, after spending a total of 25 hours or just one hour more than a single full day failed to agree to convict Tensing. Their non-decision left many of us with more questions than answers, more uncertainty than closure.

Since the mistrial, it’s time to focus on the context surrounding the murder of Samuel DuBose—including the institutional practices, and policies that enabled Tensing’s actions and the sudden exit of a university president with six years remaining on his contract.

Paul Samuelson stated—“Good questions outweigh easy answers.”  To that end, here are a few more questions university administrators; faculty, students, staff and community leaders must tackle to prevent this from happening in the future.

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Let’s start by asking the following questions:

  • Should universities be in the business of policing?
  • Did UC’s failed leadership and policies contribute to the death of three local citizens in past 10 years? What would prevent this from happening in the future?
  • Who authored, managed and implemented what appears to be a comprehensive “stop and frisk” campus program resulting in 2,400 Black citizens being stopped near the UC campus in eight months in 2015 alone?
  • In a culture of “Law and Order” and “Protect and Serve” is racial profiling of Black and brown citizens an acceptable solution?
  • Besides new upper-level administrator positions, community forums, and committees, what has systematically changed at the university to address ongoing problems of racial bias?
  • In wake of calls for peaceful protests and prayer, which organization or persons will be responsible for ensuring that “Living Lives Matter?” For it is one thing to protest death and injustice, it is another to protect the living.

In closing, “good” questions rarely result in easy answers.  That’s the world we live in.  However, if civic leaders, the UC family and religious affiliates espouse social justice, they must not rely on simple answers or two-hour community forums to spark the kind of sustained transformation that the great citizens of UC and the community deserve.

Robin Martin is an Associate Professor at University of Cincinnati’s College of Education, Criminal Justice,  and Human Services. Prior to joining the CECH faculty, Dr. Martin served UC in a variety of positions, including Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, and Executive Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator. A former women’s basketball player and coach, Martin received her B.A and M.Ed. degrees from the University of New Orleans, and her doctorate in Urban Education Leadership at the University of Cincinnati

Author: Verna L. Williams

Interim Dean, Nippert Professor of Law, co-founder and co-director of Cincinnati Law's Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice. Professor Williams joined Cincinnati Law's faculty in 2001. She teaches Constitutional Law; Gender and the Law; and Family Law. Her research examines the intersection of race and gender in law and society.

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