Following national unrest after the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, leftists nationwide have created a push to abolish the presence of campus police, arguing that law enforcement officials on campus put minority students’ safety at risk while providing no evidence that this is actually the case.
Most schools, so far, have resisted against these calls:
• CoalitionNU, the Black Graduate Student Association, and other organizations at Northwestern University created a petition to “divest from law enforcement.”
• #DisarmUC, the Black Panther Party, and other organizations in the University of California system created a petition for the school to “end all police contracts, abolish police departments on campuses and redistribute those resources to those in need.”
• The Black and LatinX Student Caucus at Columbia University created a petition to cut ties with the New York City Police Department.
• University of Pennsylvania professors and activists created a petition demanding an end to the “collusion” between the university and police.
• Georgetown University activists demand the school “cease all relationships with any police department.”
• The student government at the University of Iowa promoted a petition asking administrators to “cut all ties between the University of Iowa and the Iowa City and Coralville Police Departments.”
• The student government at The Ohio State University have asked the school to cut ties with the police department “immediately.”
• Temple University activists demanded the school #DefundThePolice in a petition.
• The president of the Black Student Union at the University of Louisville wrote a letter to the school’s president demanding the relationship with Louisville’s police department be ended “expeditiously.”
The University of Minnesota caved to student activists’ demands, announcing last week that they will reduce ties to local law enforcement.
Administrators at New York University responded to demands that the school cut ties with police, arguing that NYPD must respond in “the event of serious emergencies or crimes at NYU or safety conditions beyond the scope of our Department of Public Safety.”
The president of the University of Louisville responded to the Black Student Union president’s letter, informing her the school has no plans to cut ties with the local police department. “Your request for us to immediately terminate our relationship with LMPD would not make our campus or its constituents safer, and it would be an insufficient answer to a very complex problem,” Neeli Bendapudi wrote. “The harder work in a necessary partnership is to change, mold and evolve the partnership and the partner to best facilitate the university’s need without compromising our values.”
Abolishing campus police departments in pursuit of justice for minority students is misguided. It will make campus a much more dangerous place, leaving victims of sexual assault, gun violence, theft, drunk driving and more without any protections. There are countless examples of campus and local police saving lives at schools across the country, from local authorities foiling two potential shootings in California to a school officer chasing off a gunman in Illinois, to hundreds of drunk drivers stopped from endangering the lives of others.
Activists should be willing to come to the table for a meaningful dialogue between affected communities and law enforcement–creating bridges to effect real change rather than creating a more dangerous environment for all students in pursuit of “justice.”