Resisting policing in higher education: wilful White ignorance in the campus safety debate

Rebecca M. Taylor, Martha Perez-Mugg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Activists have challenged the reach of the carceral state into higher education. Whether calling out the exclusion of currently and formerly incarcerated people from higher education or the ways campus police perpetuate the racial and economic biases that plague the US criminal legal system, these voices offer insights that higher education leaders should take seriously. Yet, these challenges are often met with appeals to safety, which purport to override concerns about the harms produced by extension of the criminal legal system into educational contexts. Campus safety debates offer an opportunity to examine the role of wilful ignorance in the perpetuation of systemic injustices on college and university campuses, highlighting tensions between the testimony of those challenging these systems and practices and prevailing narratives around safety. In analysing the operation of wilful ignorance in this context, we will focus on campus policing as a manifestation of carcerality in higher education. We argue that the perpetuation of policing in higher education in the USA reflects wilful White ignorance that represents both an epistemic and moral failing on the part of higher education leaders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-940
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Philosophy of Education
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • campus policing
  • epistemic injustice
  • safety
  • student activism
  • White ignorance
  • wilful ignorance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History
  • Philosophy


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