The Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) passed a resolution during a special meeting on June 17 expressing support for defunding the UCSD Police Department (UCSDPD) and abolishing the University of California Police Department (UCPD).
Sixth College Senator Zaccary Bradt and Vice President of External Affairs Alisha Saxena drafted the resolution in response to ongoing international protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality sparked by the murder of George Floyd.
In the resolution, ASUCSD presented three major action items they intend to carry out. ASUCSD will prioritize work with the Black Student Union (BSU), the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and other relevant organizations in order to tackle anti-Blackness and racial discrimination on campus. The ASUCSD Office of External Affairs Minority Representation Caucus will produce a report detailing anti-Black racism and police misconduct on campus. Finally, ASUCSD aims to acquire and disseminate UCSD PD’s current budget so students can determine where funding can be reduced and reallocated.
Despite many across the UC system calling for police defunding, retiring UC President Janet Napolitano stated in an interview with KQED that the UC does not plan to defund police departments within its purview. Instead, the UC will be focusing on making sure officers are well-trained and use de-escalatory tactics. Napolitano also expressed support for implementing the legislation of the 8 Can’t Wait campaign, a series of eight police reform policies that are intended to curb police violence.
During the June 17 meeting, Saxena criticized the UC’s support of 8 Can’t Wait, stating that many of the policies such as the ban on chokeholds are superficial changes that still fail to adequately hold officers accountable for their actions. Furthermore, according to Saxena, many of the policies such as the de-escalation requirement are already implemented in many major cities with little effect.
“It is important to note that President Napolitano and currently many of the members of the UCPD believe that 8 Can’t Wait is the solution when in fact it has proven to be a flawed solution and it’s appalling that they have failed to do their research to determine that that was not an adequate method to serve our students and that also proves that Black voices are failing to get heard,” said Saxena in the meeting.
Saxena concluded by promoting the 8 to Abolition campaign, which encourages further initiatives to defund and demilitarize the police and reallocate that funding towards community self-governance, housing, and healthcare.
Prior to its passage, ASUCSD amended the resolution. The original resolution included directing ASUCSD President Kimberly Giangtran to sign a UC system-wide petition on behalf of ASUCSD. The petition calls for the abolishment of all on-campus police departments and police contracts and the reallocation of police funding. The petition also calls for UC divestment from companies that support Israel and the return of Indigenous lands to their respective communities.
Many senators did not support the inclusion of the petition due to the sections on Israel divestment and the return of Indigenous lands. International Senator Dakshh Saraf expressed concerns over the inclusion of divestment since the Israel-Palestine conflict is an ongoing, sensitive international issue that often divides students on campus. Muir Senator Corliss Lam felt the inclusion of these issues detracted from the overall intention of the resolution to express support for the Black community. However, other senators such as Campus-Wide Senator Clayton Allen believed that removing the petition would weaken the resolution as a whole. ASUCSD eventually voted to remove the petition and ultimately approved the resolution by a margin of 28 yes votes and one no vote.
Bradt commended the resolution passage on Facebook, saying, “I believe that it is an important first step in ensuring justice for Black and other minority students at UCSD while engaging in an open and transparent process about how we should proceed with defunding our on-campus police and focusing instead on supporting our students with systems that are non-violent and actively anti-racist.”
Samir Nomani is the News Editor at The Triton. You can follow him @samir_the_first.