The UC Academic Council endorsed a set of five recommendations for UC police departments on June 24, which included defunding campus police departments, removing firearms from campus police’s standard equipment and disbanding partnerships with non-UC police agencies.
The Academic Council — an administrative group which advises the UC President –– submitted the recommendations to UC President Janet Napolitano in a letter on June 29. A spokesperson for the UC Office of the President said in an email that Napolitano will consider the recommendations “as we continue to work with our campuses and community members to find ways to ensure public safety and best serve the entire University community.”
In the letter to Napolitano, Kum-Kum Bhavnani, chair of the council, said the recommendations “represent our solidarity with the current protests against racialized police violence.”
“The University must respond to this watershed historical moment by reassessing the role and presence of police on campuses,” Bhavnani said in the letter.
The Academic Council centered the recommendations on statements they received from students and faculty across the UC System about anti-Black police violence. While the recommendations expand on work done by the Academic Senate’s Public Safety Task Force and the Presidential Task Force on Universitywide Policing, they also criticize the groups’ recent reports as “narrow-bore and technocratic reforms that have failed to address the underlying roots of racialized policing.”
The recommendations echo calls around the country for communities to defund their police departments and redirect the funding to community services, especially those that benefit Black communities and communities of color.
The Academic Council recommended that the UC:
“substantially” defund campus police departments and move the funding toward efforts to develop “alternative modes of campus safety that minimize and/or abolish the reliance on policing and other criminalizing responses”
Invest in mental and physical health services, especially for Black students and other marginalized students “who have been historically targeted by police violence”
Remove firearms from campus police’s standard equipment
Terminate partnerships with police agencies outside of the UC and restrict access of non-UC police to campus property
Implement the recommendations over three years through campus and UC-wide groups which “prioritize the participation of those who have traditionally experienced violence and mistreatment at the hands of police”
Bhavnani said the recommendations “offer a guide for rethinking the role of police on UC campuses” and could spark needed conversations between university officials.
Napolitano will step down from her position as president on Aug. 1. Her successor will be announced at the UC Board of Regents’ July 7 meeting, but the council plans to continue a dialogue “on the future of policing at UC campuses” with the upcoming UC president.
“UC could be a leader within Higher Education by creating structures that balance safety and justice, and which undermine legacies of structural racism and police violence,” Bhavnani said in the letter.
Sofía Mejías-Pascoe is the deputy news editor for the 2020-2021 school year. She can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org