Trans scholar haunted by frightening brush with Tulsa campus police

“’I need to go teach my class. If you don’t believe me, then walk with me.’ I said. They refused.”

“After nearly twenty minutes of being detained, 1:00pm was nearing, the time class was to begin. I begged that an officer follow me to class, and one finally capitulated.”

One officer escorted Miller to the Law School, where students were waiting and were able to verify Miller as their teacher. The officer left, and Miller said that was when emotions proved to be overwhelming.

“Feeling targeted and humiliated, I began to cry and left the room with my head down, weighed by the shackles of humiliation.”

A meeting was held the next day that included Miller’s supervisors, Dean Applegate and Ms. Najera, as well as a psychologist, the director of campus security and another member of the security force. Miller had requested the four officers also be present but they were no-shows, as was the university provost, according to Miller.

Miller said Campus Security Director Joe Timmons reported that according to his officers, they saw a male with a bag on private property, walking in the street, and that is why they stopped Miller.

“He insisted that many people are stopped on campus because it is in a high crime area and those with unfamiliar faces are stopped for identification,” Miller says, adding that the only thing being carried was a shirt.

By Miller’s own account, no apology was proffered.

Here is the version of events from the perspective of the university, according to marketing director Mona Chamberlin:

“On July 20, 2016, campus security attempted to conduct a routine pedestrian check on private, university property. It was determined that the pedestrian was SJ Miller, who had been contracted to teach a one-week summer course at The University of Tulsa.

“Professor Miller expressed concern that his presence on campus should not have been questioned. TU officers were following established security protocol and carried out their duties appropriately.

“As a place of scholarship and learning, The University of Tulsa takes seriously its commitment to providing a safe and welcoming atmosphere for our students, faculty, staff and campus visitors. TU is a highly diverse campus in a vibrant, urban environment, and it is our intention to treat all individuals with respect.”

“It is my understanding that the program director had apologized. University officials sincerely regret any misunderstanding between Professor Miller and the officers involved.”

Miller was outraged that Chamberlin claimed the university had already offered an apology — insisting that Timmons said at their meeting, “No, you will not get an apology” — and offered this statement to LGBTQ Nation:

“This is not an apology, and it is NOT a proxy for acknowledging wrong-doing. Using the words, the “University officials sincerely regret any misunderstanding between Professor Miller and the officers involved,” circumvents any responsibility for targeting me. While you, Dawn, as a reporter were responded to immediately, this goes to show how disregarded the already disregarded is (me), and accentuates the greater fear they have at stake– their fear being called out publicly by the media. They are trying to save their asses and don’t regard the human who was aggrieved.”

Miller wants the university to extend an apology directly to him and is calling for sensitivity or anti prejudice reduction training for campus police.

After Tulsa, Miller was hired as New York University’s Deputy Director of Educational Equity, Supports and Services at MetroCenter NYU’s Steinhart Research Hub. “My position is to look at ways to reduce disproportionality,” Miller says.

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