Dear Governor Kate Brown:
The American Association of University Professors of Oregon (AAUP Oregon) represents thousands of faculty, academic professionals, and graduate employees at universities and colleges throughout Oregon. We are pleased that your office has initiated calls to improve police accountability in Oregon. In that spirit, we join calls from our local chapters across the state that public universities immediately begin the process of disarming campus police units.
At Portland State University, campus police were armed in 2015, over the objection of nearly all campus constituencies. Jason Washington was shot and killed by PSU campus police in June 2018. At the University of Oregon, miscommunication between Eugene Police Department and University of Oregon Police Department officers resulted in a student having guns drawn on him at the Erb Memorial Union. At Oregon State University, Oregon State Police, working under a contract with OSU, pushed to the ground, handcuffed, and arrested Genesis Hansen, a student of color, for riding her bike on the wrong side of a residential street. While OSU and OSP severed their contract over the incident, OSU has failed to respond to calls to have their newly formed campus police force be unarmed.
These decisions to arm police forces at our public universities in Oregon were contested at the time. At every hearing, public testimony voiced the concerns echoed today in the wake of the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Evidence maintains that arming campus police brings numerous risks and problems. Arming campus police increases fear on campuses for people of color; increases the incidence of police harassment of persons of color; increases the incidence of police violence against persons of color and with members of the community; and establishes coercion, rather than de-escalation as a means for addressing safety and conflicts on our campus. We at AAUP Oregon are confident that better strategies for campus safety are available and these models do not involve armed university police forces.
Finally, disarming police saves needed financial resources. This is an obvious alternative to the hasty decisions by administrators to strip universities of the staff and faculty who actually fulfill the educational mission.
President, AAUP Oregon
Endorsed by AAUP Oregon Chapters:
- Graduate Employees Union of Portland State University
- Oregon Tech American Association of University Professors
- Portland State University American Association of University Professors
- United Academics of Oregon State University
- United Academics of University of Oregon
Governor Press Release
At the UO: