Prejudice also strikes ‘scruffy-looking’ white people
12/6/2018, 6 a.m.
Re Editorial “Teaching while black,” Free Press Nov. 29-Dec. 1 edition:
You do not have to be African-American to receive prejudicial treatment from Virginia Commonwealth University Police. You can be a scruffy-looking white person and receive roughly comparable treatment.
At the start of the 2008 spring semester, I was sitting in my new evening vector calculus class, for which I had registered and paid tuition, looking in my new calculus text when two VCU Police officers walked in and wanted to know who I was and what I was doing there. I handed one of the officers my DMV ID, my new VCU ID and my new computer-generated class schedule.
When my teacher arrived, they asked him to check his class roster and my name wasn’t on it. I hadn’t realized that the course registration people had registered me in the day section instead of the night section of the course that I wanted.
The officer confiscated my VCU ID and he and the other officer escorted me from the School of Business building.
On my next day off from work, I paid another visit to the VCU registration office and obtained a statement from them that they had mistakenly enrolled me in the wrong section of vector calculus. I went to VCU Police headquarters and presented the statement to the officer who had taken my ID. I received a replacement VCU ID.
To this day, I don’t know who called the VCU Police. I didn’t ask them.
But if the officer had thought about it, he should have realized that I could not have received a computer-generated course schedule if I had not paid tuition. In fact, he could have checked when he walked into my class. He could have used his 2-way radio mounted on his left shoulder. But he did not do this presumably because he was so certain that I didn’t look like a third semester calculus student.
I am not only the scruffy-looking white man who has been treated prejudicially by the VCU Police, I also in fact hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting from VCU from May 1973.
VCU is unlikely to receive a charitable nickel from this deeply embittered alumnus.