A.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for the complete disarmament of campus police, on the grounds that students should no longer fear armed police. I, along with others, believe that no student should be afraid for their safety, especially not at school.
Students — especially students of color — can feel intimidated by a heavy police presence for a variety of reasons. This new resolution can alleviate some of the stress these students feel towards law enforcement. However, we should consider whether or not disarming campus police is the best longterm solution to this problem.
Mar. 3, the night the resolution was passed, was also the 49th anniversary of the Isla Vista Riots. During the A.S. Senate meeting on Feb. 27, student advocate Ivana Cruz said, “It’s rarely talked about. The night of the Bank of America burning, a student was walking home from a liquor store and he was violently arrested because the police mistook his handle for a Molotov cocktail.”
According to Cruz, armed law enforcement has resulted in increased fear and tension between police and students.
Portland State University and the University of Oregon both recently passed bills to disarm their campus police. Student leaders supported this choice, believing that it would guarantee student safety. I agree that this was a smart decision on Oregon’s part; even I fear for my safety doing something as simple as going downtown with friends or walking to class.
I believe these bills will protect students, but we need to consider how officers can defend themselves.
An example of the potential dangers of lack of defense can be found in the death of Natalie Corona, a police officer in Davis, California. The campus-based law enforcer was shot and killed in the line of duty while responding to a car accident near campus. What some people do not realize is that those in law enforcement are not all dangerous.
Though there have been disgusting instances of police misconduct, not every police officer deserves to be labeled as a threat. Corona was a human being with family and friends who had to mourn her death over something that could have potentially been prevented if she were armed.
I hope that I am safe in my surroundings, but for me this does include police being able to defend themselves. Instead of taking guns away, we should focus on enacting stricter gun control.
With UCSB’s decision, the hope is that police brutality and gun violence will be alleviated. However, I wonder if this is a good fix to the problem. Though I do agree with the decision, it might be better to have a longterm fix that does not compromise the safety of students or law enforcement, since everyone deserves to be protected.
It seems ironic that by taking away something that causes students to feel uneasy, it does not really ease their feelings if a dangerous situation occurs and they cannot protect themselves or be protected by campus police, who are employed to make sure students are safe.
I do believe that UCSB’s decision can be effective and has good intentions. Unfortunately it doesn’t do much if the people we want to protect us are putting themselves in danger. We cannot always expect students to protect themselves. With the decision, I hope students feel safer on campus as the law intended. If it does not, I hope the school can look into other options.