Texas State University’s chapter of the NAACP has started a petition to defund and dismantle the campus police department. The petition has been circulating since the end of March.
Though the online petition was presented to the public in March, the Texas State NAACP has been working on it since Fall of 2020. President of the university chapter Evan Bookman said the movement came about due to feelings of a lack of need for campus police.
“UPD doesn’t really serve a positive purpose or influence on campus,” said Bookman.
The senior said the Texas State NAACP’s goal is to ensure the social, economic, political and educational rights and equality for all people on campus. Bookman said overall, the goal of the organization is to effect positive change. Because of this, they especially felt the need to push this movement forward after discovering the university’s plans to build a $9 million campus police station.
“We feel that $9 million could better serve black and brown students, and the greater Texas State community, elsewhere,” said Bookman.
Bookman said that he and his organization feel that some of the money could be better spent going towards the betterment of students on campus.
“That money could go towards expanding our mental health services, making sure the emergency phone-call systems are working and up to date and again, more Black counselors and social workers and stuff like that,” Bookman said.
The petition was presented to University President Denise Trauth via email on Mar. 24. She responded to the NAACP’s demands the same day via an email in which she said “dismantling the police department is not an option.” While Trauth is not open to the initial demands of the NAACP, she mentioned that a current process that the university is in will lead to progress on campus. This progress includes the NAACP’s request for more Black faculty and staff on campus.
“I have committed this university to a process of improving, in a genuine way, relationships with our students, faculty, and staff of color, and identifying better, more effective ways to improve their safety, security, and sense of belonging,” said Trauth in her statement. “I firmly believe that this process will also lead to concrete actions and real progress on many of the other requests that you made in your letter.”
Trauth also mentioned the instatement of a restorative justice program on campus called Life Anew. This program is meant to “facilitate these difficult conversations.”
“These conversations are structured in a way that we hope can bring about long-lasting changes,” said Trauth in her response.
Though Trauth has given a response, the university NAACP has expressed via another statement on Twitter that they are still pushing towards their same goal. In the statement, they also mentioned their plans to hold President Trauth accountable to the changes she agreed to implement such as ‘formal adoption of restorative justice practices’.
President Trauth isn’t the only person opposed to the removal of campus police from campus. Eddie Valle, a Texas State senior, was also uncomfortable with the idea.
“I just don’t think that dismantling the University Police Department is such a great idea,” said Valle. “I would personally feel less safe if there were no university police on campus.”
While Bookman understands the skepticism that may come from people opposing the movement, he’s asking the opposition to consider what he’s fighting for.
“When has UPD ever made black and brown students feel safe,” he asked. “On a day-to-day basis, UPD is just in their police building with their $3 million budget doing nothing.”
While no changes have been made yet, Bookman, as well as the rest of the NAACP, are still pushing for their voices to be heard by continuing to advocate for the defunding of UPD if it can not be dismantled.
Texas State President responds to NAACP’s demands
Texas State President Denise Trauth has responded to the NAACP’s initial requests. Though she is not open to the dismantling of the University Police Department, the organization is still advocating for the movement.
Texas State NAACP continues with petition despite denial from university president
Though Texas State President Denise Trauth denied the NAACP’s demand that the University Police Department be dismantled, the organization is still pushing for it to be defunded. President Evan Bookman feels money going towards UPD could be better spent.