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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Northeastern declines to comment on SPD body camera footage, Indian student association’s call to condemn video

NU Sanskriti’s logo. Northeastern declined to comment on the Seattle Police Department body camera footage, citing “ongoing litigation,” after NU Sanskriti called on the university to condemn the actions of the SPD officer. Illustration courtesy NU Sanskriti.

Editor’s Note: On Thursday, Sept. 14, Kenneth Henderson, Northeastern’s chancellor and senior vice president of learning, sent a university-wide email addressing the footage, calling Auderer’s comments “callous and insensitive.” The email also acknowledged the impact of the footage on the Indian student community. As of 2:00 p.m. Thursday, the university had not responded to NU Sanskriti’s email. The News is continuing to update this story. 

Members of NU Sanskriti, Northeastern’s Indian student association, called on university administration Wednesday to condemn the actions of a Seattle Police Department officer after the release of body camera footage showed the officer minimizing the death of a Northeastern student. 

The university on Wednesday, citing “ongoing litigation,” declined to comment on the incident in an email to The News. 

On Monday, the Seattle Police Department released body camera footage from January showing officer Daniel Auderer laughing and joking about the death of Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old Northeastern graduate student. The day before the footage was taken, SPD officer Kevin Dave, while operating a police cruiser, struck and killed Kandula, who was studying information systems at Northeastern’s Seattle campus.

“Since she was an Indian student [on] NU Seattle campus, I think it becomes our responsibility as Indian Students’ Association, catering to more than 9,000 Indian students on campus, to ask questions about events that happened after the incident in January and to take up the responsibility of Indian Students on campus,” read NU Sanskriti’s emails to Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun and Chancellor Ken Henderson, which were also sent to The News.

In the footage, Auderer describes the incident that killed Kandula to another officer, who the Seattle Times reported to be Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild. 

“She is dead,” Auderer says in the video, referring to Kandula. Moments later, he bursts into laughter. 

“Everyone that I know was moved and saddened by that video of him chuckling and laughing and calling her ‘of limited value,’” said Gaurav Mishra, a recent graduate of Northeastern’s master’s program in electrical and computer engineering and long-time member of NU Sanskriti. “It was not good. It was like an attack on everyone — not just any Indian, but everyone.”

NU Sanskriti called on university administrators to do more to support the Indian student populations in Boston and across Northeastern’s satellite campuses. 

“It’s been eight months and we see very little that has come out in this regard from Northeastern leadership. And this is coming from a leadership which has been very, very proactive in calling out all the social injustices pretty quickly,” Mishra said. “I don’t know what agenda they have [in] their head, but for us, this is just as equally important to other issues that they amplify from the president’s office.” 

Northeastern declined to comment on the body camera footage or NU Sanskriti’s email in an email to The News late Wednesday night, saying, “This is a matter of ongoing litigation and we are unable to comment.” The university did not specify what litigation is ongoing, and The News was unable to confirm what the university is referencing. 

Soon after Kandula’s death, David Thurman, dean and CEO of Northeastern’s Seattle campus, sent an email to members of the university’s Seattle campus addressing Kandula’s passing, The News previously reported.

Northeastern’s lack of official response to the incident was disheartening, members of NU Sanskriti who spoke with The News said, as it leaves them feeling unsupported and not cared for within the Northeastern community. According to the club’s email, they have received “numerous” requests to take up this issue with the university’s leadership.

“In the video released by Seattle Police we can hear the officer saying that the girl had ‘limited value.’ This is honestly what we feel as Indians on campus every day. From unnecessary frowns from [the Northeastern University Police Department] to absolutely no stationary place to express ourselves, it is deeply saddening that Northeastern had not done anything publicly to condemn this incident,” NU Sanskriti’s email read. 

NU Sanskriti is circulating a Google form on social media that encourages students to lend their support to “the cause of Justice for Jaahnavi” and leave comments. NU Sanskriti leaders who spoke with The News emphasized that they are hoping for some form of justice for Kandula. 

“The prevalence of justice is what we’re concerned about at this point — and speedy one at that — because we can’t even imagine what her next of kin are experiencing right now, especially months after the incident having to hear about people discarding it as such — it’s very saddening,” Mishra said. 

In the first few hours after the form was posted, it garnered hundreds of responses. As of 10:30 a.m. on Thursday , it had 474 responses. 

“It’s really obvious how people are feeling — people, my friends, everybody is sharing that post … so it’s really obvious, the reaction of the Northeastern community,” said Devansh Mehta, a master’s student in advanced and intelligent manufacturing and the treasurer for NU Sanskriti.

The comment section of NU Sanskriti’s Google form was filled with concerns about both the Northeastern Police Department and Boston Police, Mishra said, making this story from across the country closer to home for some students. 

“When we are coming for a master’s, we are thinking we are going to be safe here,” said Krishnan Narayanan, a master’s student in computer science and president of NU Sanskriti.

About the Contributor
Marta Hill
Marta Hill, Editor-at-Large
Marta Hill (she/her) is a fourth-year journalism major and the editor-at-large of The News. Before becoming editor-in-large, she served as editor-in-chief for a year and previously held the positions of campus editor, deputy campus editor and a variety of staff roles. Marta currently works for NASA as a science writer and hopes to keep the entire campus community up to date on matters concerning Northeastern. You can follow her @martajhill on Twitter.
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