At the last meeting of the school year, the Associated Students’ board of directors voted Tuesday to urge Cal State Fullerton to reallocate funds from the University Police Department to mental health services.
The resolution, which passed 11-0 with six members abstaining, called for University Police to ban all aggressive police tactics, lethal firearms and excessive use of force during student events, student protests or any other campus affairs.
Prior to the meeting, Dave Edwards, ASI executive director, said in an email to the Daily Titan on Monday that ASI cannot defund campus police because the university funds the University Police Department.
The proposition called on the university to be more transparent and publicize any ties or contracts with local, state and county agencies, and that CSUF implement the changes outlined in the document by 2024 to 2025.
“This resolution has the most support that it's ever had across CSU Fullerton,” said Maria Linares, the board of directors chair, at the meeting. “The other thing is we're not asking to abolish, we're asking to reallocate resources and we're not even pressuring UPD with a specific amount. We're being vague.”
During board discussion, Jakob Wright, College of Communications representative on the board of directors, motioned to table the resolution to a later meeting, after he said he didn’t think the board had enough time to come to a well-rounded decision.
“I don't think that tabling this item is an indication that we do not support this idea or want to silence students leaders or even that it's putting it on the back burner.” Wright said. “I think that the student leaders at this campus are very passionate and I think the next iteration of ASI will be more than capable of discussing this issue as well with more time, with more feedback and more opportunity.”
Erik Murillo, College of Humanities & Social Sciences representative, said that while he supported the resolution, it would be better to wait for the new ASI leaders to come in and make their own decisions.
“I want to vote yes on this,” Murillo said. “But right now, we've had what, maybe a month if at most, for this decision. I don't think it's the right time.”
The motion to table the resolution failed after a vote of 9-7, with one member abstaining.
Copies of the resolution will be distributed to President Fram Virjee, Provost Carolyn Thomas, University police Chief Raymund Aguirre, the Diversity Initiatives and Resource Center and other prominent figures at CSUF, according to the resolution.
University Police Capt. Scot Willey told the Daily Titan that there is no guarantee that CSUF will act on the proposal. He added that ASI will have to demand the campus administration to follow through with it.
Willey said while he’s unsure where the money within the police department will be allocated he hoped that the money would come from state funding to continue to fund mental health services.
Other CSUs have been advocating for this type of resolution and this motion was a symbolic effort as the first step to abolishing university police departments, Willey said.
“It's actually countrywide, abolitionist movement for university police departments that for some reason they're focusing on us right now, and they have been in California over the last couple of years, not really sure why,” Willey said. “Especially knowing how little our budget is compared to larger agencies.”
The University of California system also proposed to defund or reform the campus police system on those campuses.
In June of 2020, the UC’s Academic Senate Council endorsed the defunding of campus police and redistribution of funds to other forms of campus safety, mental health services and resources for Black students.This endorsement came after recommendations from the Academic Senate’s Public Safety Task Force and the Presidential Task Force on Universitywide Policing.
Faith Garcia, from the Students for Quality Education chapter at CSU San Marcos, has been a leader in the abolitionist movement along with SQE members.
Garcia, who spoke during the board meeting in support of the resolution, said her university's academic senate passed the resolution in support of the Black Lives Matter movement to provide necessary resources on campus.
“This isn’t something only happening on my campus and on Fullerton, but across the CSU system,” Garcia said.
Marcos Zelada, a CSUF communications major, said he was grateful for University Police and was one of the students who voiced his opposition to the proposal.
"If it hasn’t worked in big cities, what makes you think it’s going to work here?” Zelada said to the body during public comments.
Seleena Mukbel, the board of directors vice chair, said the board’s decision was based on being proactive and not reactive in campus safety by investing funds into a proper outlet to support students experiencing trauma.
“As our work, one of our main values was anti-racism and equality actions, especially with the Black Lives Matter Movement,” Mukbel said.