Socialist students demand disarming of campus police
A radical student activist group at Stony Brook University, New York is demanding that the school disarm its campus police to avoid “unnecessary tension” between cops and minorities.
A four-page manifesto released last week by the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) at Stony Brook argues that the president of the university, Samuel Stanley, has the capacity “to revoke firearms from the possession of university police,” adding that the possession of firearms “creates unnecessary tension between officers and the university community, especially between minorities and police.”
“It has been empirically demonstrated that university police are ineffective in the use of firearms, regardless of the quality of training,” the document continues. “Furthermore, the militarization of university police promotes confrontation through violence, as opposed to social engagement, as the solution to mass shootings in America.”
Some students, including the school's Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, endorsed the call to disarm the police during a March 28 demonstration against gun violence organized by the YDSA, according to The Statesman.
“America has a huge gun problem, and any gun control measures must include the demilitarization and disarming of law enforcement agencies,” the chapter’s founder, Thomas Sheroff, told the Statesman. “The Young Democratic Socialists of Stony Brook University call upon President Stanley to truly take the lead in transforming and leading the way the correct future of gun control and disarm the Stony Brook UPD.”
Notably, however, the College Democrats at Stony Brook did not back the demand to disarm the police, instead urging the school to conduct mandatory active shooter trainings for students and campus law enforcement.
In its manifesto, the YDSA argues that “as the armed Sheriff’s deputy at Parkland showed, armed police rarely solve active shooter situations,” but then goes on to insist that if the university is not willing to fully disarm its police force, then “at the very least,” it should ensure that they only carry firearms under certain exceptional circumstances, including when they are responding to calls involving the possession of a deadly weapon.
“It might be said that an armed police officer deters active shooters,” the document notes. “However, a report by SUNY Cortland in 2004 showed there was no significant difference in crime rates between armed and unarmed schools.”
The socialist group also contends that “armed police create an environment of coercion, not consent,” suggesting that Stony Brook should seek to emulate the policing practices in the tiny nation of Iceland, where officers patrol unarmed even though many citizens legally own firearms.
SBU College Republicans President Fuad Farque condemned the call to disarm university police, arguing that whatever threat might be posed by armed police officers is insignificant in comparison to the protection that they offer.
"It's ridiculous that an on-campus organization would demand radical change to make our campus less safe from criminals with guns,” Farque told Campus Reform. “I hope anyone with an iota of common sense can see that the blanket threat they gave to the administration is a dangerous one.”
The socialist activists, perhaps anticipating such attitudes, conclude their manifesto by threatening to “publicize the militarization of our university police” if their demands are not met.
“We will tell prospective students that the university treats it students not as a community to serve but as a population to occupy,” the document warns. “We hope to have our demand met amiably and in good faith.”
UPDATE: A university spokesperson provided Campus Reform with the following statement:
“University Police Officers receive extensive firearms and active shooter training, respond to all emergencies on campus, and play an integral role in keeping our campus safe. That said, Stony Brook University embraces the constitutional freedom of speech and thought, whether we agree or disagree with a particular view.”
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