Amid a recent surge of allegations that police discriminate against minority students on campus, approximately two dozen students gathered Thursday night to talk about their concerns and feelings with officers from the Duke University Police Department.

On-campus parties and a variety of issues related to police patrolling them served as flashpoints for a discussion that students said was a productive step in soothing tensions but was occurring with the wrong subset of officers.

Three police administrators took part in the interactive event, which was facilitated by the Center for Race Relations and co-sponsored by Mi Gente and the Black Student Alliance. Students said they would rather have exchanged experiences with officers who directly deal with students at parties.

“They’re sending the diplomatic people,” senior Bianca Forde said after the talk. “I’d like them to send the more direct people.”

A handful of self-imposed guidelines aimed at promoting respect governed the event, in accordance with the way the center runs its discussions. To participate, everyone had to agree to listen rather than just hear and use “I” statements rather than making generalizations.

Each participant addressed only his own experiences and feelings, but most of the stories were greeted with nodding heads across the room.

Junior William Durrah said he was frustrated when he watched the different ways police broke up a party at Beta Theta Pi fraternity, a member of the Interfraternity Council, and Alpha Phi Alpha, which belongs to the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

He said at Beta the police just asked people to leave. That same night, he watched police break up an Alpha party. “It was a whole different kind of feeling,” Durrah said, explaining that officers were yelling at students and behaving antagonistically.

Other students said large-scale events thrown by minority groups, especially the black community, were required to have an excessive amount of security, such as metal detectors.

The three DUPD officers in attendance were receptive to students’ concerns but said they often have little control over the type of security precautions taken at events. They tried to explain the behind-the-scene dynamics of their jobs and their concerns with students.

“My major concern is behavior,” Lt. Jeff Best said. “If your behavior dictates to me, or your behavior causes me to approach you as an individual, I’m going to do that.”

In small-group sessions, students said they wanted to participate in educating the entire police force about what they perceive as inappropriate behavior.

DUPD officers undergo annual sensitivity training through Duke’s Office of Institutional Equity. The department also investigates every formal charge of discrimination or inappropriate police behavior, Chief Clarence Birkhead said.

Birkhead was not present at the discussion Thursday night, but told The Chronicle last week that he had “no formal plans” to address recent student complaints about police discrimination. “We really can’t address the anecdotal comments—the feeling of the problem,” he said, calling for more open dialogue between students and officers.

Although the purpose of the forum was not to take action, several students expressed a need to act against what they called a perpetual problem of unfair treatment.

“We can talk and talk and talk,” said senior Oluseyi Ojeifo, “but at what point are things going to change?”