CSUMB town hall meeting tackles police force and racism

California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) held a town hall meeting where it’s affiliated organizations, including the Abolition and Decolonial Education Collective (ADEC), California Faculty Association (CFA) and the group representing Black Faculty, presented their thoughts about the university police department’s advisory committee proposal. There were roughly 45 total people in attendance at the town hall, including CSUMB students, faculty and staff.

The town hall meeting aimed to tackle a variety of issues surrounding police force and racism at CSUMB. Representatives from multiple organizations were able to share their thoughts regarding these issues. 

The CSUMB University Police Department Advisory Committee (UPDAC) draft proposal is roughly one and a half pages long and it does not specifically address race, brutality, or ways to protect Black, Indiginous, and people of color (BIPOC). 

The goals of UPDAC is to help further promote a safe environment for students on campus. The draft proposal states “the group will consult with other departments and groups across campus, bring in subject matter experts as necessary, and provide innovative ways for campus stakeholders to interact.”

If the UPDAC proposal goes into effect, the members “will meet on a quarterly basis and work directly with the Chief of Police in identifying and addressing public safety issues, recommending solutions, and seeking out cross-divisional partnerships to improve the overall experience of all campus members.”

The proposal specifically mentioned acting as liaison between the UPD and campus community

and also mentioned receiving regular updates and summary of activities of UPD, including current trends impacting the campus, among other things.

While this is a good start to improving the relationship between UPD and the CSUMB community, some town hall speakers were concerned about the lack of addressing race, brutality or BIPOC. They referred to the murder of George Floyd and felt anti-Blackness needs to be more rigorously discouraged to ensure the safety of BIPOC at CSUMB. 

As it currently stands, there are parts of the proposal that would not achieve this. The various organizations listed what both the school and UPDAC need to do to support BIPOC from brutality and racism. 

Black Faculty wrote an official statement in response to the UPDAC proposal, which said “we call for the campus to prioritize a review and response to the CFA Call to Action Proposal. These demands are critical to addressing systemic anti-Black racism at CSUMB and across the CSU.”

The CFA also put out a statement, covering the weaker points in the proposal and why they needed to be highlighted in detail. In particular, it stated “we have an obligation to address the structural racism that shapes policing in our society and that resulted in the murder of George Floyd. It is not enough to condemn this public execution that calls lynching to mind.”

They also brought up that during the pandemic, people of color have faced a variety of different challenges at a disproportionate rate. “We must take this opportunity to call on our leaders to not only condemn racism and white supremacy, but to announce programs to enact systemic change.”

The CSU employees union (CSUEU) at CSUMB created a BLM resolution which said CSUEU will dedicate time and space to support Black lives on campus. CSUMB has always tried to create a safe environment for all of their students, and they believe it is needed now more than ever.

“As a result of the persistent deaths of innocent Black citizens in the United States at the hands of police officers, the CSUEU believes that silence is complacency,” the CSUEU statement read. “Therefore, with purpose we affirm that Black Lives Matter, and we support, advocate, and stand in solidarity with the movements for Black lives.”

After the ADEC, CFA and Black Faculty voiced their concerns with the proposal, CSUMB student Vanessa Monroy told town hall participants about a story involving UPD and a suicidal student, which was also reported on by the Monterey County Weekly.

A CSUMB student was threatening to commit suicide and the first UPD officer to arrive on the scene tried to calm the student down. Despite living in a time where the United State’s police force is scrutinized and feared for brutality and excessive force, the CSUMB officer was threatened with termination by Marina Police Department for not using enough force. 

According to The Weekly, once the Marina Police Department arrived on scene, things quickly turned violent. They said Marina Police Department officers treated the student harshly and “one of the Marina officers used a taser on the student.” The president of the Statewide University Police Association Jeff Solomon said the Marina officers “filed their complaint preemptively, fearing the CSUMB officer would file a complaint against them for excessive use of force” according to The Weekly. 

It’s instances like this that make the committees in opposition of the proposal nervous about UPD activities and influenced their calls to action.

The ADEC, CFA, and Black Faculty collectively said they are asking for two things: to “reduce the presence and role of UPD on campus” by suspending budget increases and reducing role in crises like mental health and to “name the problem, research the problem, before jumping to the ‘solution’ of an advisory committee.”

“We are asking for the University to take steps to reduce the presence and role of the University Police Departments on campus,” the committees stated. “This includes reducing their role as crisis responders and suspending budget increases and hiring.” 

During the town hall, the ADEC said they are issuing a survey for students, faculty and staff to understand the depth and nature of community interactions with police because “no meaningful attempt to address concerns with policing on campus can begin without taking stock of the issue itself from the perspective of those directly impacted.”

UPD was not specifically invited to the town hall so participants felt safe when speaking their mind. Additionally, UPD was not discouraged or forbidden from coming, but no one in the town hall said they were from the UPD. They have yet to publish a written response to the collective committees calls to action or the town hall meeting on their website or any social media. 

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