FAQ

STILL IN-PROGRESS

What are our demands?

Defund the Police

Remove weaponized police and only maintain the bare minimum guard force for the TRIGA nuclear reactor.

Invest in Community

Re-direct funding to services that meet the needs of this community; student health, funding CAPS, emergency housing, the food pantry, maintaining the OSU pharmacy and more

Anti-racism Education

Mandatory anti-racism, open-dialogue course requirement for ALL degrees at Oregon State University.

Explicit Transparency

Actions and policy relating to public safety including any decisions made about equity and inclusion on campus must be made with community oversight and must be explicitly public.

Questions on disarming

But policing works!
Most crimes are not reported to police, and most reported crimes are not solved.

Isn't crime getting worse?
No, it isn't, but you're not alone in thinking that it is. Public perceptions about crime in the U.S. often don't align with the data. This is rhetoric from right-wing politicians who demonize social justice.

What are OSU's plans for their police force, and how much money will it cost?
OSU is intending on hiring 17 officers (5 of whom would be Sergeants) to serve on a weaponized police force. The force will cost OSU an estimated $4.9 million dollars in the next two years. The school is offering a starting salary of $62,500-$70,500 for officers, and $75,000-$85,000 for sergeants. They are also offering lump-sum payments of around $5,000 to these officers after a year of service. These salaries are significantly higher than actual educators and essential staff at the university, despite how these employees are outright essential to the functioning of the university. 

Per regulation 10CFR73 of the Nuclear Regulatory commission, OSU must fulfill a minimum requirement of one (1) armed guard and five (5) rapid response personnel to guard the TRIGA nuclear reactor within the Radiation Center. OSU administration argue that 12 officers are required to cover the shifts required for constant guard of the reactor. It must be patrolled by a single armed guard 24/7, 365 days a year, amounting to 8760 hours. The standard work hours for any employee during a year based on the standard 40/5 work week is 2080 hours. That equates to 4.2 FTE positions. Let’s round up to be generous. That is 5 positions--less than half the current amount of proposed officers and an unnecessary cost of nearly half a million dollars. Further, fewer officers to supervise will mean fewer pricey Sergeants will be required, and we can limit the number of sergeants to three. That saves us 164k. Additionally, under the proposed plan, lump-sum cash payments amounting in a total of $85,000 after a year of employment would be provided to officers. We have no information regarding the amount of funding intended for equipment, vehicles, accreditation, and other expenses. The school promised breakdowns of this information by August 30th, yet still hasn't released this information. 

OSU is currently citing millions in budget cuts, cutting the pay of most faculty, laying off employees across the board, closing the pharmacy, and rescinding grad worker COLA. They are risking the very lives of students and employees by forcing first-year students to live on-campus and prematurely pushing for in-person instruction to ensure continued profit. So where is all this money for a new police force coming from? 

This money is our money. It should be invested in us--the OSU community.   

What about an active shooter?

There are no known cases of on-campus police effectively preventing a school shooter. The armed officer that was present at Parkland was reinstated as a deputy sheriff and pleaded not guilty to charges of negligence. This has set a precedent that cops do not need to defend students in the case of an active shooter. Furthermore, funding directed towards cops could be divested into mental health services that could potentially intervene in an active-shooter situation.

What about rape/domestic violence?
Law enforcement has been notoriously insufficient in addressing sexual assault on college campuses and in general. A notable example of this insufficiency is the Jameis Winston case. When Florida State University student Erica Kinsman made rape allegations against Jameis Winston, a star quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles, “The Tallahassee Police Department refused to run a DNA test on Jameis Winston. The TPD did almost nothing for ten months” (The Hunting Ground). When a DNA test was finally run, the DNA collected from Kinsman’s rape kit was indeed Winston’s. Despite this evidence, prosecutors found Winston to be not guilty of the charge, and he proceeded to play for the Seminoles in the state championship. Kinsman received various threats and insults via social media for complying with local law enforcement and school policy throughout her report (The Hunting Ground). Winston has since been accused of assault again by an Uber driver in 2016.

  • Police have not investigated a vast majority of the rape kits they collect (over 200,000 by this report), over 400,000 recently.
  • Additionally, police officers are notorious for being perpetrators of rape and domestic violence--according to the National Center for Women and Policing, "Two studies have found that at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10 percent of families in the general population. A third study of older and more experienced officers found a rate of 24 percent, indicating that domestic violence is two to four times more common among police families than American families in general... typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report, investigation, or even check of the victim's safety... This 'informal' method is often in direct contradiction to legislative mandates and departmental policies regarding the appropriate response to domestic violence crimes... even officers who are found guilty of domestic violence are unlikely to be fired, arrested, or referred for prosecution."
We cannot leave the safety and support of rape and domestic violence survivors in our community to those whose profession evidently exacerbates abusive behaviors.

What about fights?
Jason Washington was murdered by police at Portland State University trying to break up a fight.
Police escalate fights; they do not de-escalate them.

What about police reform?
Policing was created to enforce an unjust hierarchy.

  • Policing has origins in slave patrols and was created to protect private property, not the lives of people. This is true today, still. Policing feeds into a system of legalized slavery because of a provision in the 13th amendment. "Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
  • An intersectional analysis shows that certain groups are targeted disproportionately. "Roughly 35 percent of Black trans folks have been arrested or held in a cell due to bias at some point in their lives, and more than half of Black trans folks report discomfort seeking police assistance, according to the National LBGTQ Task Force." (Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect?)
  • Police have historically shown that they are antithetical to human rights protests, with historical examples ranging from anti-Civil rights movement violence (Selma, Black Panthers) to anti-BLM protestor violence today.
  • Prison populations have exploded in recent decades even considering all efforts put in place to make police more accountable.
Policing as a practice is inherently biased.

But they can't be better if they're under-funded.
The goal is to divest funding into services that mitigate crime, rather than retroactively addressing issues via carceral punishment. Defunding the police alone won’t work--it must be paired with divesting funding into better crisis response professionals with formal, specific training in things like mental health, de-escalation, and increasing access to social services and safety nets.

What about funding for better training?
Funding allocated towards better training increases funding police receive (money that could potentially be invested in schools and rehabilitation services), and increases the scope of what police are expected to respond to, therefore increasing their power and access to resources. For example, providing training to officers on responding to mental health crises justifies their assignment to handling these issues, despite the need for professional mental health experts to be the ones responding to those calls.
--from Reformist reforms vs. abolitionist steps in policing

What about good cops--aren't the majority of cops good people? Surely they can't all be bad.
This might come down to your personal beliefs on what makes someone a good person, but even if there are “good cops”, they operate within a fundamentally bad system. The history of policing in the US stems from slave patrols and hired thugs to protect rich (white) people’s property and comfort against the presence of entire groups of people they classified (typically along racial or ethnic lines) as criminal or dangerous.
Policing, as a system and practice in the US, has never been designed or intended to protect and serve the people, but rather to protect property and serve the interests of the ruling class by violently enforcing their will onto the majority, sometimes by compliance with laws and sometimes extrajudicially - “cops and klan go hand in hand” isn’t just a catchy chant, but based in fact.
Furthermore, a combination of powerful police unions and a cultivated culture of loyalty to fellow cops means that most police officers will not intervene or even report when they witness their partners planting evidence or using excessive force. Those who do report it are often retaliated against and fired, whereas cops accused of misconduct rarely face consequences, and if fired, they are often quickly rehired at another department.

Body cameras can help, right?
Body cameras increase the funding and technology police have at their disposal. Police often turn off their body cameras or misuse them to increase surveillance capabilities on civilians. Even when use of excessive force is caught on camera, the footage is often misused or spectaclizes violence perpetrated towards underrepresented communities.
--from Reformist reforms vs. abolitionist steps in policing

What about issues with sororities/fraternities? Protections against hazing, protection for drunk greek life students, protection for community members from rowdy greek life students?
Law enforcement and colleges alike are notorious for downplaying the seriousness of violent crimes perpetrated by certain students, leading to further victimization of other students. Colleges benefit directly from covering up the crimes of their students. They rely on their alumni having clean records and prestige. They also rely on donations from fraternity and sorority alumni, who may choose to revoke their contributions if their chapters are held accountable for violent behavior (“in 2013, nearly 60 percent of donations of more than 100 million dollars made to universities came from fraternity alumni” (The Hunting Ground)). Colleges additionally are incentivized to maintain revenue influx from athletics, which disincentivizes them to persecute athletes who have committed violent offenses.
Violent crimes are punished less severely by both parties, particularly when the perpetrators are white male students of high socio-economic status (Shwartz et. al, p. 3). This inaction causes further victimization on campus and in society at large, as these students often “become tomorrow’s corrupt government officials, tax cheats, toxic waste polluters, defrauders of Medicare, corporate price fixers, fraudulent advertisers, and other myriad forms of white collar criminals,” with their degrees, further protected by their artificially clean records (Shwartz et. al, p. 6).
Colleges and any police forces they form will inevitably possess inherent biases towards persecuting crime selectively as to what protects the university’s brand and financial condition. Campus police will continue to crack down on minor crimes such as parking/traffic violations and minor drug/alcohol possessions, while crimes that truly endanger students will be overlooked to preserve the credibility of the university. These selective practices do not address the issues our community faces, and exacerbate challenges faced by systematically oppressed students.
--Schwartz, Martin D., and Walter S. Dekeseredy. Sexual Assault on the College Campus: the Role of Male Peer Support. SAGE Publications, 1997.

What if someone is experiencing a mental health crisis?
The Ruderman Family Foundation reported that nearly half of people killed by police have a disability. LaQuan McDonald, Michelle Cusseaux, and Ethan Saylor are among the many disabled people murdered by police. Police should not be responding to calls regarding mental health crises--unarmed mental health professionals should.
Funding from police can be reallocated to resources that alleviate mental illness--access to housing, food, healthcare, and the formation of crisis mediation teams that can intervene when a situation arises. CAHOOTS is a great example.

Who will protect businesses from rioting and looting?
Even without an armed campus police force, Oregon State University still has campus public safety along with the Corvallis police department and the Benton County sheriff’s office. Defunding and disarming campus police will not result in rioting and the looting of businesses.
Furthermore, we need to fund community resource programs that ensure people have what they need to survive. The Human Services Resource Center, the UHDS Emergency Housing Program, the CGE Hardship Fund, and Student Health Services all provide community members with resources that can eliminate the need for theft.

Questions on mandatory anti-racism on campus

Why?
In a letter to President John V. Byrne from concerned students (in 1990!) called for this and it wasn't adequately answered. In proposal 2, they specifically asked that the course address cultural ethnic diversity but also racism/discrimination and its origins AND discuss the current issues of the university's intolerance and discriminatory acts. Not all of the DPD course requirements talk about racism/discrimination, many do not talk about it in a modern context. The students asked that there be qualified minority instructors.

Administration thinks they're doing an amazing job! Why should we worry about it?
They're not.

What should go into the course?

  • Anti-racism practices for today
  • For example: In the doctor's office, Black women are more likely to have their pain dismissed. The first step of anti-racism is to acknowledge that this is racist, and the next step is to be educated on different forms of pain that may be expressed by different peoples and finally to encourage others around you to do the same and make that the best practice common in the workplace.
  • Open dialogue
  • Mini-lectures and current events
  • Reading of texts
  • For example: Alondra Nelson's "The Social Life of DNA"
  • Tools to actively unlearn bias

What about students who don't want to take this course?
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." The goal of this course is not to stop there from being white supremacists or to silence them; it is to ensure that if there are race extremists, then make them informed, open-minded extremists. We may find that, given a little conversation, they are not so extreme, after all.

Why open dialogue?
The reason I want open dialogue is that this last semester we learned as teachers that students would open up and talk more candidly among their peers (breakout rooms) if they did not have an instructor hovering over their shoulder.
--from the member of the We Can Do The Work team who came up with the idea
Anthony Lusardi at OSU did research that found that more conservative students are less likely to engage in course material and often feel that they may even be penalized for sharing their views.

But Andrew Oswalt said that his social justice class just worked to radicalize him.
See above answer on open dialogue.

Do you have any supporters of this course?
The We Can Do The Work task force is currently comprised of over 40 members. Additionally, a number of faculty including the graduate advisors of some members of the task force have expressed their support. Charlene Alexander (in OID) and Provost Ed Feser have attended our events and expressed their support. Dr. Nana Osei-Kofi, the head of the DPD department, offered her encouragement. Former president, Ed Ray verbally expressed his support in a meeting with CGE, although with the caveat that he would like to see faculty oversight.

Why not just make the course online? i.e. a Canvas module, similar to the education about campus recycling for first-year students in the dorms
People may just try to get done with it, and it may not impact them deep enough to allow them to question their implicit biases, face-time is critical!
With concerns about the pandemic, as long as this is a full term, full credit course it can be delivered online i.e. via Zoom. The issue would be that it can't be pre-recorded (because current issues need to be CURRENT) and that student participation will be required for at least part of the final grade.

Have additional questions?

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