Socialist students claim 'safety will deteriorate' with new police station

After several hours of student input, the University of Utah student government senators voted down a bill regarding a gift from the Class of 2020 that would provide $30,000 to open a police office at the school’s A. Ray Olpin University Union building.

The idea was presented by the Associated Students of the University of Utah’s Vice President of Student Relations, Gabe Martinez, and was sponsored by students Mitch Kirkham in the Assembly and Damon Ngo in the Senate.

“ASUU Vice President of Student Relations along with various students and student organizations, The University of Utah Union and The University of Utah Police Department have been working on developing a plan for the gift that aims at building a culture of safety and community on campus and have concluded that an accessible, inviting, transparent, visible and dedicated space for the University of Utah Police Department in the new University of Utah Student Union will benefit the entire student body due to the desire of the student body wanting to bridge the gap between the students and UPD,” stated the proposal.

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Some students were less than thrilled by the proposal, however. 

“This is supposed to be our safe space. I will not go to the Union any more if cops are there,” University of Utah senior Puneet Singh reportedly stated in the meeting.

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“I am a solutions-based thinker. This gift aimed at solving the issues of how the university police department and the student body can work together and how we can hold each other accountable,” Martinez told Campus Reform. “When asking the student body and sourcing information before the draft of the bill and then after, this idea was a feasible way that students could play an active role in what the relationship will look like for the future.”

He then spoke about safety and how the police station would be closer to students, and that it would allow quicker response times and be less stressful for students to file police reports. Martinez said that this would help students from “marginalized groups."

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“Additionally, students could then in the 6 year period before renovations have a say in that exact space and what it will look like for the whole community. Lastly, this would force the officers to reach out to the campus community and the students to reach out to them upon its completion. Bridging the gap between two institutions that will always be on our campus, students (of all demographics) and the university police department,” Martinez added. 

The University of Utah Students for a Democratic Society told Campus Reform that it “firmly believes that student safety will deteriorate with the addition of more police officers on campus,” reasoning that “the police are a direct threat to students of color and to queer students,” and “also disregard the legitimate needs of women suffering from domestic violence.”

According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, Students for a Democratic Society originated out of the League for Industrial Democracy, which was founded under the nameIntercollegiate Socialist Society.

“Martinez, while explaining his bill to gift $30,000 for a police office in the student union said that he wanted the police to be an emotional resource in addition to a physical safety resource. We reject this, and know that campus safety would be better helped by increasing funding to the University Counseling Center than to the University Police Department. SDS demands #CounselorsNotCops,” the group added.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Francesanne123