Student Reaction on Akom Investigation
Independent report on SF State professor released
March 19, 2006 6:07 PM
SF State students weighed in on the investigative report that pertained to a professor's claim that he was racially profiled by campus police.
The 102-page report - released on March 13 - found that the security guards did not racially profile SF State professor Antwi Akom as he tried to retrieve a book in his office after campus hours. The independent report was commissioned by SF State President Robert Corrigan on Oct. 28, 2005 following the arrest of Akom for alleged battery and resisting arrest on Oct. 25, 2005.
While students’ familiarity with the circumstances varied, many had strong reactions to the case.
“It seems like one word against the other,” said Ryan Dickson, 24, classics major. “We weren’t there.”
Page 87 of the report noted that it was not feasible to reconstruct the night with 100 percent accuracy. While the investigation managed to access many documents relating to the case, only three of the seven eyewitnesses participated in interviews, and Akom declined interviews because his criminal case was still pending.
The report also stated that Akom left his two children locked in his car while he dashed to the Ethnic Studies/Psychology building. Akom had previously visited his office after campus hours on November 2004 and Sept. 2, 2005 – both without incident.
“I find it hard to believe that (the professor) would be confrontational with the police when he has his children waiting for him in his car in the parking lot,” said Chris LaFlesh, a fine arts senior.
“(Akom is) a teacher, he’s always on campus, and (the campus police) still asked for his ID,” said Desiree St. Louis, 22, liberal studies senior.
At night, both the Ethnic Studies/Psychology and Humanities buildings were undergoing construction for the Technology Infrastructure Services, a public works project that continues today.
The construction company, CH2M Hill, hired private security guards per their contracts with the university, and the Wackenhut Corporation’s services were engaged “to observe and report activity to duly authorized law enforcement agencies,” according to the report.
Akom initially interacted with a private security guard, not campus security or police. The report also stated that these security officers had no more authority to arrest or detain people than average citizens.
“It’s clear from the report that if the door was closed, none of this would have happened,” said John Fanous, 34, a member of the SF State InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff.
Page 39 quoted “Special Sections” of the SF State – CH2M Hill contract, which is the following: During these times, entrance is permitted only to authorized personnel, including the contractor’s workforce, as approved by the university’s project manager. In no case shall the contractor be allowed to prop open exterior building doors or leave open doors unattended when the building is normally closed to the public.
According to the report, the guard regularly propped the door opened – it was through this door that Akom entered the building.
“Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere,” said Justin Lawrence, 21, business major. “If this is going on at this campus, just think about how many other campuses, it’s going on at.”
The report can be downloaded on the SF State Web site at www.sfsu.edu
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