DEFUND UTSA CAMPUS POLICE
DEFUND UTSA CAMPUS POLICE
In a recent email sent to students at the University of Texas at San Antonio, President Taylor Eighmy informed us that he has fired 243 staff positions (176 from professional positions including professors, and 67 from skilled labor positions) due to the "economic realities of the pandemic." Even with these large cuts of salary due to layoffs, students are still required to pay full tuition in a mostly online education with limited resources. In addition to this, President Eighmy refuses to cut significant amounts of administrative salaries or relieve any financial burdens that most students are facing right now. Lots of students at UTSA, including myself, are taking out loans and paying out of pocket for tuition that continues to increase with little to no monetary assistance from financial aid. Many of us have lost our jobs due to the pandemic, some have parents who do not help pay for their education at all. I personally have even had my grades withheld and my access to register for classes revoked because I could not pay on time. Now where is all of this money going since it is obviously not going to help students in need? In addition to the administration, a LARGE sum is going to the UTSA Campus Police Department.
After doing some research on the FY 2020 Operating Budget for the University of Texas at San Antonio, I noticed that the budget for the campus police comes out to a total of $5,084,365. 5 million dollars. To compare, the department for student services total for the same fiscal year is $4,374,914. UTSA gives more of their own students' money to a campus police department that does not serve any marginalized community, than to student services.
In case you have no knowledge about the University of Texas at San Antonio, let me explain what the campus police department DOES do, which I personally have seen multiple times as I am now currently a senior at this school. UTSA Campus Police terrorizes peaceful protesters on campus in order to seem threatening, while simultaneously protecting white supremacists, rapists/assaulters, and pro-lifers that frequently show graphic and triggering images of abortions on campus. UTSA Campus Police refuses to investigate the MANY sexual assault and rape cases this school has. In fact, a large majority of rape and sexual assault incidents are from UTSA's own athletes, many of which have been called out by name by a student led organization combating rape culture. While these rapists are walking freely on campus, reaping benefits given to them by the university (including free tuition, housing, meal plan, and a monthly allowance), there are hundreds if not thousands of victims that have been silenced and gaslighted after having the courage to report their cases to authorities. It is unfair and unjust of UTSA and UTSA Campus Police to completely disregard the severity (let alone the existence) of rape and sexual assault on campus and by their own students. When victims take the time to report a traumatic event and are not only shut down, but have to see their abusers and rapists on campus receiving no consequences, how do you suppose this makes them and other victims feel?
Not only this, but I personally had an encounter with two women suspected of being a part of a sex trafficking scheme late at night while I was alone on campus. I immediately went to the library to report what happened to a campus police officer, only to watch him walk around the building of the encounter, and do nothing. He didn’t report the incident or care about the situation in the slightest. These same women approached many of my friends, as well as other students on campus. UTSA Campus Police has little to no regard for the well being of its (especially black and brown) students. They do not care about mental health, victims of sexual assault, poor students, safety, and the list goes on. If campus police aren’t on campus to protect and serve, then why do they deserve a budget of $5 million for the current fiscal year?
I, as a student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, am calling for immediate action from President Taylor Eighmy to defund the campus police. Our campus needs funding for a long list of things, and the money needs to be distributed to things that matter, things that will actually benefit students. With the frequent amount of suicides/attempted suicides on campus, funding should be going directly to mental health resources. What we have now is less than 10 counselors (who many have said are not very helpful) who you have to call on the phone, explain your situation, and wait weeks to see. On top of this, only 2 of your sessions with a counselor are free (although we already pay for the service in tuition so it should be accessible to all for free), and the wait time is ridiculously long, so many don’t even get the chance to speak to one. President Eighmy needs to distribute funds to mental health resources on our campus. As I mentioned earlier, many students, including myself, are paying loans and out of pocket for tuition and revoking our access to grades and registration for not being able to pay on time. Even with the emergency aid fund that was sent to some students, tuition is expensive and continues to increase. President Eighmy needs to distribute funds to lower the cost of tuition and provide more financial aid opportunities (that don’t include loans) to students in need, even if at the expense of his own salary. If UTSA can give the campus police a $5 million budget and fire almost 250 employees during a pandemic, I’m sure they can find the funds to distribute to mental health resources and financial aid (amongst other things that need funding on campus). Thank you all for listening, and I hope that you sign this petition in an effort to demand that UTSA and President Eighmy be held accountable, and defund our campus police.