Several student groups at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., sent a letter to administrators claiming that the police protecting them on campus is an “act of violence” because a police union endorsed Donald Trump.
The relevant section states:
“The university must re-channel its resources and money to its fundamental requirement: to protect its students. This safety must not depend on the University’s police. The Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union in the United States, has formally endorsed President-Elect Donald Trump. The FOP includes over 10,000 members in Washington D.C., many of which have jurisdiction over GW’s campus. Placing us in these officers’ care is an act of violence, especially for Black students.”
“The University must protect its students, instead, by dramatically increasing financial aid, emergency funds, health care resources, health insurance grants, and discretionary funds available to low-income students. It must create and/or dramatically increase funding for the community centers like the Multicultural Student Services Center for people of color and marginalized students. It must increase funding for Mental Health Services and expand hiring to candidates that are of color and specialize in race-related mental health concerns.”
Now, it’s important to note that it’s not clear from the language in the letter whether these kids want the cops to stop protecting them or not. It does state that campus police protection is an “act of violence,” that their “safety must not depend on the University’s police,” and that the university must increase funding to other areas “instead” — but we can’t be sure if they’re saying that they feel that the university is depending only on the police — and that it should pay more attention to other areas as well — or if they’re saying that it must not depend on the police at all. In either case, though, their argument is ridiculous.
Say the latter option is true: That these students want to get rid of campus police entirely, and that applying extra funding to the causes that they listed would be a fine replacement. If this is the case, I’m going to push back a little and bet that, if a murderer were breaking into one of their dorm rooms, he or she would probably not be calling the Multicultural Student Services Center for help. What’s more, keep in mind that their reason for calling campus-police protection an “act of violence” is that some FOP members have jurisdiction over campus. If you follow this logic, then there would be a lot of places other than their campus where police protection would also be “an act of violence,” seeing as, by their own admission, FOP has more than 10,000 D.C. members. If they really are declining protection over this, then by extension they’re basically saying that they don’t really want the police’s protection when they’re out in D.C. at all . . . which might be something that they’d want to rethink.
The other option, of course, would be that these students do still want the police protection, but they just want the university to understand that the protection is an “act of violence.” Kind of like, “Look, protect me, but understand that your protecting me is an act of violence.” Okay? It’s like inviting your boyfriend over, opening the door, and saying, “You being here is an act of violence” and when he tries to leave saying “Wait? What are you doing? Just because I said your presence is an act of violence doesn’t mean that I don’t want you to help me change the lightbulb I’m too short to reach! Just make sure to also donate to PETA on the way out!” It’s not hard to see how crazy this sounds.
#related#If these students have a problem with a police union or its political affiliations, then okay. It’s perfectly fine to express that. But calling their very protection an “act of violence” is just inaccurate. A police officer protecting someone is not an “act of violence.” An “act of violence” is, for example, getting hit in the face, or kicked in the shin, or thrown down a flight of stairs. See: any dictionary. What’s more, their demand that the school send money to different organizations in order to fix the situation makes no sense. When in the world would that ever be a thing? Say I had a doorman at my apartment who supported Donald Trump. Would I ever, in a million years, write a letter to my building owner claiming that, based on his political beliefs, my doorman’s very being there was an “act of violence” against me? And demand that they donate to Planned Parenthood and the World Wildlife Federation to make it better? No, I would not . . . because that is crazy. And although advocating a respect for diversity can certainly make a culture more peaceful, the fact still is that a police force and a multicultural center have very different, distinctive functions. Add to all of this that the Fraternal Order of Police endorsing Donald Trump does not mean that all of the officers on GW’s campus personally support Donald Trump, and we’ve got approximately 9 million reasons why these kids have some thinking to do.
The letter was endorsed by the following campus groups: Young Progressives Demanding Action GW, the Feminist Student Union, the Roosevelt Institute, Progressive Student Union, Students for Justice in Palestine, Green GW, Fossil Free GW, GroW Community, Casa Blanca, the Theta Chapter of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, inc., Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance Advocacy Committee, and the Association of Queer Women and Allies.