The Associated Students board of directors will meet on Tuesday to discuss a resolution to defund Cal State Fullerton’s University Police to invest more into psychological resources, like Counseling and Psychological Services.
CSUF’s Students for Quality Education, also known as SQE, told the Daily Titan via email that they request not to take away all of policing on campus but to have an ‘equitable and humane’ use of school funds.
According to the email, SQE stated, “Our work now is to imagine a campus with a different police presence and a greater mental health service capacity.”
University Police Capt. Scot Willey said he has been part of the budget process for several years, within a year the police force is currently low on staffing full-time police officers and that the department has actually been defunding themselves already.
“I can tell you from having been in law enforcement for 23 years, you know you're getting a full police department on a very, very low budget,” Willey said.
According to CSUF’s 2020-21 3rd Quarter Operating Fund Budget and Expenditure Summary Report from March 2021, University Police’s revised budget total was $5,142,838. In comparison, Student Wellness and Care has a revised budget total of $8,634,171.
According to the email, SQE stated that at Tuesday's ASI meeting, they will ask for more transparency regarding the police’s budget, as well as help the University Police understand more about diversity, trauma and the LGBTQ community — along with trying to understand why campus police are ‘heavily armed.’
On their Instagram page, SQE is vocal about divesting from the University Police to fund mental health resources as they promote the phrase ‘no harm, disarm.’ ‘No harm, disarm’ raises awareness to police’s violent measures and seeks to prevent further violence from law enforcement, according to the SQE.
“CSUF police are armed with deadly weapons and we urgently seek to demilitarize campus officiers,” the SQE stated in an email to the Daily Titan. “SQE knows that allowing our campus police to carry arms is unnecessary and at worst deadly for students.”
Willey said the use of weapons are to protect faculty and students from people outside of campus — and not having a weapon in-hand could run the risk of potential violence to continue.
Willey said that next week, he will discuss health professionals’ concerns for being the first-responder to handle incidents that can get dangerous with the Counseling and Psychological Services center .
“If we're talking about just replacing police with health professionals, most of them are anxious about going up to a door on their own without any type of support,” Willey said.
According to the email, SQE stated that the University Police have caused an atmosphere of hostility, stress and fear for many faculty and students on campus. CSUF has racially profiled where Black and Latinx students are asked to show identification while staying on campus — and one incident where a police pulled out a gun to a Black student in housing, according to the SQE.
SQE also stated that some students fear the police at CSUF, while the campus continues to recruit students from diverse backgrounds without enough mental health resources and structures to support them.
“In addition to school, work and family, students should not have to worry about their personal safety when attending school,” SQE stated in the email. “If the CSU is really committed to racial equity and closing the equity and achievement gap, then it should be committed to ensuring students are safe on campuses.”
Willey said that during the last two decades he has tried to keep officers from responding to complaints about students skateboarding, riding their bikes or smoking on campus, saying that the department does not do that type of law enforcement. He said they are there simply to protect everyone on campus.
“It's not to prey on people of color, it's not to prey on any of our students,” Willey said.
SQE stated their group initiates conversations on the history of issues with CSUF police and how they should focus on mental health first as a preventative measure over the use of police enforcement on campus.
SQE stated in the email, that while many predict the police will protect and prevent crime, they said they believe the police are a reactive measure instead of a preventive one. They also said in the email that they believe preventive measures include mental health counselors, therapy groups and crisis response teams on campus.
Wiley said in his 23 years of law enforcement, he does see a crisis in mental health and does not agree with the way some people view the department’s approach to mental health.
“This is something that we all deal with on a personal level,” Willey said.
He said the department does annual training as part of the Behavioral Intervention Team to correctly respond to students with suicidal thoughts or other mental issues that can cause them to react harmfully to themselves or others.
Willey said he has discussed the resolution with faculty, and some aren’t supportive of it, however he said the department supports free speech and free exchange of ideas from students.
Members of SQE stated that the resolution has been the main focus of their efforts, with the positive feedback from students, faculty and other organizations.
“SQE has been sharing this work and building support across campus and we look forward to getting this resolution passed by ASI and the Academic Senate, and more importantly creating real change and moving humanity forward,” SQE stated in the email to the Daily Titan.
Maria Linares, the chair of ASI board of directors and a sponsor of the resolution said she was unsure about what the final results of the resolution would be.
“I do not have a prediction as to the votes, but I know our student leaders will show up informed and educated,” Linares said. “I am confident that they will do what is best for our students, especially our most marginalized.”
A previous version of this article alluded to SQE speaking to ASI leaders during a meeting, but that meeting had not taken place at the time the article was printed and published. The Daily Titan apologizes for the mistake.