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Abolition or reform? A new CSU position

by Juliette Palin November 10, 2020
Abolition or reform? A new CSU position

CSU’s police brutality position is controversial in its wording

On Oct. 28, the CSU’s second meeting of the month discussed Arts and Science Representative Shivaane Subash’s police brutality position. In hopes of being added to the CSU’s Positions Book, the position highlights how the CSU does not support the SPVM in its treatment of Black and Indigenous students.

Two distinct positions were recognizable in the discussions: one for abolition, and one against. This doesn’t mean that any parties were against taking a position; rather, they had different approaches to the position.

Subash wrote in the position, “The CSU recognizes its racially diverse student population and how widely reported racial profiling experiences by the SPVM affects their educational experience. Thus, it is vital to advocate for their safety and security to ensure a safe, enriching university environment.”

This universal statement is one that most CSU representatives agree with. However, there are a handful of representatives that have issues with the last clause in the position.

The section originally read, “CSU stands in favour with defunding and abolishing the SVPM, so as to redirect those financial resources to areas such as healthcare, mental health, housing, education, jobs, and restorative-justice models that better suit the needs of our community.” After the discussion, the section of the quote in italics was removed.

Subash explained that she “looked at the Positions Book and realized there was just a small section on police brutality.”

As one of the only remaining women of colour in the CSU now that many have stepped down, she knew that someone needed to take a stand, and change the CSU’s position on these issues.

Subash is aware that abolishing and defunding the police is a controversial idea, and was expecting push back from fellow council members.

“This is natural, there was pushback and confusion from the general public and different leaders as well, so it was expected by everyone,” she said.

Despite this, she said it’s still exhausting to deal with this type of push back.

“It’s mostly tiring … especially when everyone is learning about concepts such as police brutality. They’re not new concepts, but they’re penetrating the public more nowadays.”

She stood by her ideas and statement, based on her own personal experience as a minority.

“A lot of people are against it because the police have always been there as an institution that we’ve had for ages,” she said.

So people are so used to that police presence, they don’t want to consider abolishing/ defunding the police.”

However, this isn’t the section that Tzvi Hersh Filler, a member of the CSU Council of Representatives, had issues with, but rather the word “abolish.”’

In Filler’s opinion, “In this case, seeing as [the police] is an essential service, scrapping it doesn’t make sense. Obviously, you have to fix the accountability issues.” He argues that the word “abolish” will create a sour relationship with the SPVM, which can lead to bigger issues.

Filler compares the situation to a similar one that occurred in New York City, where a group of Orthodox Jews were being harassed with bricks. According to Filler, the police failed to handle the situation properly.

He said, “The fact that the police were unable to properly handle [the situation], came down to the fact that the police felt like [the mayor] was out to abolish them, and that created this atmosphere where they couldn’t do their jobs.”

James Hanna, a Gina Cody councillor at the CSU is of the same opinion as Filler. Both agree that the SPVM is extremely problematic and needs to be fixed. However, these two don’t see how abolition is the key to this.

He said, “Without fixing society itself; without lowering the racism score, the level of [racism in] the police also won’t change because it’s the same pool of candidates, it’s still the subset of that same population, unless you radically change the population.”

As of now, the position’s 12.8 section stands as such: “CSU stands in favour with defunding and abolishing the SVPM.”

 

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