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‘Complicit in institutional racism’: Virginia Tech student government wants police abolition

Some students questioned why their reps needed to get involved in outside political issues

The graduate student government at Virginia Tech wants the university to defund its campus police department, starting with a task force in Spring 2022.

The resolution remains “out to shared governance” as of November 18.

The student leaders want a task force “dedicated to defunding campus police and reallocating those funds towards valuable social services and overpoliced communities.”

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate wants the task force to “issue a final report with a pathway to fully abolish the campus police,” by the 2026-27 school year. It asks for key stakeholders in the process to include “activists from Abolition at VT, [Black Lives Matter] activists, and critical scholars of policing.”

The College Fix reached out to GPSS president Jack Leff via email on November 8 and 11 to inquire about the benefits for students and the university of defunding the police and if there was a specific event that caused the resolution to be passed, but received no response as of November 18.

The Fix reached out to Virginia Tech’s media relations director Michael Stowe, on November 8 and 11 via email inquiring if the university plans to meet with GPSS and if the university agrees with the resolution. The Fix did not receive a response as of November 18

The College Fix reached out to Virginia Tech Chief of Police Mac Babb, regarding how the police department would be affected by the resolution and if he agrees with the resolution. Babb declined to comment on these questions.

Babb told The Fix that the police department maintains a good relationship with students. “We respect and trust the university’s governance process and are respectful of any member of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate who is pursuing their idea through the established process.”

“The Virginia Tech Police Department has an excellent relationship with our students,” Babb said.

While the chief of police said that, the GPSS said the campus cops are participating in racism.

The resolution said “campus police across the nation and in our local community are complicit in institutional racism.”

The legislation said the university has made statements in support of Black Lives Matter and should support the student government’s call to defund the police.

“If the university and community affirms Black Lives Matter then it stands to reason they ought to support the single, solitary demand made by the movement,” the resolution said.

The graduate student senate resolution said “the Black Lives Matter movement has called for defunding the police for seven years; furthermore, policing experts have called for abolition of or defunding of campus police departments.”

Some students express concern with political nature of student government

Students have expressed concern to the GPSS about the necessity of it taking up political issues such as defunding the police. The student government recently took up a resolution calling for a boycott of Israel.

“The majority of our students feel that there are specific resolutions, such as Defunding the VT Police and support of BDS, that are not appropriate for a graduate leadership board,” an unnamed member submitted as a comment, according to the October 21 minutes. “ I believe that this concern stems from the potential for these resolutions to be polarizing, without directly affecting our graduate studies.”

“As a vet school, and as Virginia Tech, I know we are all striving to create diversity, and furthermore inclusion. We feel that politically charged resolutions will not help in this mission,” the comments said.

“The GPSS should be a non partisan organization dedicated to representing and including ALL graduate students regardless of political belief,” a submitted quote for the record said. “Introducing political subjects will divide and degrade the standing of the GPSS.”

MORE: Check out the Campus Cancel Culture Database

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Rachel Lalgie is a student at the University of Florida, studying accounting and economics. She is a member of UF's Phi Eta Sigma and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.