Faculty, students demand Trustee support of legislation to better regulate police use-of-force, better address student safety on campus

On the heels of the one-year anniversary of a fatal police shooting in Sacramento, CFA leaders were at the CSU Board of Trustees to urge their support of legislation that would restrict the use of lethal force by police.

California police kill people at a rate 37 percent higher than the national average per capita. In 2017, police in our state killed 172 people, more than two-thirds of whom were people of color, said Jennifer Eagan, CFA President and a Professor at Cal State East Bay.

“Listen to our students who are here as they describe what this feels like. Imagine adding that layer of fear and instability on top of the pressure they already experience as college students. And yet they still continue to achieve, succeed, innovate, and create. They’re frankly amazing,” she said.

“And they deserve to live in a state where our police officers would exhaust all reasonably available alternatives before using deadly force. That should go without saying, and yet isn’t the case. Our students, our faculty, and our families deserve to be safe, and deserve peace of mind.”

AB 392, authored by Assemblymembers Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarty, would establish new constitutional standards to require officers to avoid the use of deadly force at every possible opportunity. It also would update the standard used to determine whether officers’ criminal negligence makes them personally liable for taking someone’s life in the line of duty.

Cecil Canton, CFA Associate Vice President of Affirmative Action North and a former corrections peace officer, described the impact of the Sacramento County District Attorney’s decision not to press charges against the officers involved on the Sacramento State community.

“The news sparked outrage and protests, and through it all there was a similar refrain – change is needed. Change in the form of legislation that would update use-of-force standards that haven’t been revised since the 19th century. Change in the form of AB 392,” Canton said.

Students demand “No Harm, Disarm!

On Tuesday, Students for Quality Education (SQE) members urged Trustees to support their “No Harm, Disarm” campaign, an effort to address student safety on all 23 CSU campuses.

SQE is calling for community-led crisis intervention and response teams, investing in more mental health counselors and Black resource centers, and de-escalation and Unconscious Bias training for all campus police.

Several students described a campus climate of fear due to police presence and weapons on campus.

“I have been harassed by campus police and questioned by CSU law enforcement,” said Elybeth Alcantar, an SQE member from Chico State. “I am disgusted that our own CSU police, who believe we should be  scrutinized in a way that criminalizes us and believes that weapons like handguns and AR-15 rifles should be in our campuses to subdue students. I urge you to champion our campaign and divest from campus police and invest in real and tangible support for the safety of all your students.”

The comments sparked discussion by the Board, and CSU Academic Senate Chair Catherine Nelson also encouraged Trustees to continue to explore issues raised by students.

Click here to learn more about SQE’s “No Harm, Disarm” campaign.

And another thing…

During the Committee on Educational Police, faculty and students also urged Trustees to reject Cal State LA President William Covino’s proposal to declare impaction at the campus.

Members of Promesa Boyle Heights, a collective of organizations and schools focused on social justice advocacy, likewise spoke against the proposal to declare impaction at Cal State LA, saying that it would send a negative message to potential students from the surrounding community.

CFA activist Melina Abdullah, who chairs Pan African Studies at Cal State LA, told Trustees that the move would disproportionately impact prospective students from the LA area, who are increasingly students of color and the first in the families to go to college. Black student enrollment has decreased systemwide in the CSU, and some 65 percent of Black students decide to go elsewhere for college, she said.

“I’m encouraging you, as the Board of Trustees, to think about Black people, to think about Black students and design a program that intentionally supports our Black students and the recruitment, retention, and graduation of Black students,” Abdullah said. “Look beyond the traditional recruitment space and look beyond your recruitment measures. That means no impaction.”