U Student Conducts Research into Student and Faculty Satisfaction with Campus Police


Maya Fraser

Evening on University of Utah campus, Thursday in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Maya Fraser | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kayleigh Silverstein, Special Projects Managing Editor, News Writer


Trigger warning: This article discusses sexual assault and intimate partner violence.


With the help of political science Professor Jim Curry, University of Utah student Ermiya Fanaeian is currently conducting research into student and faculty satisfaction with the U’s police department.

They sent the research survey to people within various departments all around campus. Students are encouraged to take the survey before the data collection period ends in the first week of December.

“In this [survey] we really want to kind of begin understanding what the differences are,” Fanaeian said. “Are there racial differences? Are there gender differences? Are there differences in where people live in proximity to campus? Are there differences when certain events happen?”

According to Fanaeian, the scholarship in this area is very limited. 

“The only data and scholarship that’s been produced in regards to our police departments has been from the institution itself,” she said. 

In order to avoid institutional bias, Fanaeian sees her research as an important and novel opportunity for a student to gather input from students and faculty directly. Curry said while the campus community has seen student opinion on these topics through protests and demonstrations, there is still not a clear idea of how different demographics impact attitudes across the board.

In December 2021, a Survey Report that aimed to gather information from current staff and students on how they perceive safety at the U was released by the University Safety Department in collaboration with graduate students in a survey research methodology course.

Out of the 50,000 people the survey was sent out to, only 10,000 were students, with the remaining 40,000 people a mix of staff and faculty. The results show that a majority of the 2,991 respondents said that they felt safety at the U was either improving (1,183) or staying the same (1,180). Additionally, 72% of those who had interacted with University Police within the 12 months before responding to the survey were either very or somewhat satisfied with the interaction.

Unsafe U, a student group unaffiliated with the U that focuses on improving campus safety, has explicitly stated they support dissolving the UPD. The Center for Student Wellness on campus offers alternatives to calling law enforcement for sexual assault, domestic or dating violence and stalking if students aren’t comfortable involving law enforcement.

According to the U’s 2022 campus climate survey, more students feel positive about the U’s handling of safety now than they did in 2020.

Policing has become a “hot topic of scholarship,” in political science, criminal justice and public administration, according to Curry — but there is not substantial research into police on campus. 

“And so I think it’ll be a really good starting point for hopefully other studies that want to dig into — what do students and faculty and even alumni think about campus police?” Curry said. 

Fanaeian said this research is especially important at the U because the UPD has been incompetent in situations of gender-based violence. 

“It’s been proven right here on our campus that the police don’t help with domestic violence, the police don’t help with different gender-based violence that women and queer people are facing,” she said. “It’s not only do they not assist with such violence, our police department has actually been shown to further the violence themselves.”

Fanaeian hopes this research will inspire others to investigate their campus police departments, expanding the research base. 

The publication of the data will serve two main purposes: to have data for the U to consider and to provide research for students to point to in their own activism.

“I hope that University of Utah students, as newer and newer classes are coming in, and we’re getting further away from instances such as the incident of Lauren McCluskey’s death, that they have something to point to, to then remember kind of what the impact that was on campus,” she said.


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