Indiana University is the only school in the entire country that allows students to work as police officers. Through the IUPD cadet program, students become the armed police that patrol our dorms, campus and neighborhoods. By arming a select group of students, we create an unjust learning environment that is ripe for disaster.
As we mourn the death of George Floyd, Dreasjon Reed, McHale Rose and countless others, we must reflect on how law enforcement affects our own communities. Then one thing becomes clear, it is time to disarm the IUPD student police.
Please remember that these protests aren’t about the killing of one man. Since the founding of our nation, minority communities have been terrorized by police while being deprived of education, health care and opportunity.
Our brothers and sisters have been profiled, unjustly incarcerated and killed. A black person in the U.S. is three times more likely to be killed by police than a white man. While at the same time, IUPD is 79% white and 84% male. These injustices are inherently understood by our friends of color but are ignored by the white majority.
Now imagine the experience of black and brown students who discover that their classmates are armed police officers. That your classmate brandishes a gun when responding to a noise complaint. That your classmate will violate your dorm room during a mental health emergency. That your classmate is the same man who might bust you for a minor drug offense while leaving Greek houses untouched.
Students of color are already discriminated against and tokenized in the classroom, so getting policed by their white classmates is salt in the wound.
College campuses are natural places of conflict as students begin to define their beliefs and identities. Student police officers are not immune from the conflicts and social stresses of student life. Every student should feel uncomfortable being under the authority of their classmate.
I refuse to wait for IUPD to use their firearms recklessly. Now is the time to stand up and demand that IUPD no longer gives students lethal weapons. Without clear and concise limitations on IUPD, a tragic manifestation of police violence is inevitable.