Council receives presentation from No Cops on Campus

The campaign calls for more transparency in SFU’s security contracts

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Illustration of five ethnically diverse students standing next to each other
Mutual aid and care support network among the campaign’s alternative to security on campus. PHOTO: Alyssa Umbal / The Peak

By: Karissa Ketter, News Writer

Content warning: this article mentions anti-Black and anti-Indigenous topics.

Council receives a presentation from No Cops on Campus

At the March 16 meeting, Graduate Student Society director of access and equity, Hafsa Sadiq, and Chantelle Spicer, director of engagement at the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group delivered a presentation on the No Cops on Campus campaign. 

“As we know all too well, the RCMP has a history of white supremacist and colonial violence in Canada.” said Sadiq. “From SFU’s founding in 1965, the administration has relied on RCMP to suppress student protest, police Black and Indigenous bodies, and promote a culture of colonial, white supremacist security on campus.”

According to Sadiq, the RCMP and security corporations causing harm to BIPOC communities is not only a historical issue. “They continue to overpolice Black, brown, disabled people, members of the LGBTQ2SIA+, and low income or houseless peoples. 

“As a campus community we have seen this expressed in a variety of ways. Black, brown, and Indigenous students have been stopped by security for simply being on campus to security responding inappropriately and harmfully to survivors of sexualized violence.” She also highlighted the “violent arrest of a Black alumni in December of 2020.”

Spicer noted the call against police and security presence on campus began prior to the arrest of the alumni in December 2020. “Students and workers were [already] beginning to call out and take action against the kinds of community safety that we were seeing perpetrated by RCMP and security on campus,” she said.

No Cops on Campus began “pushing for a number of things, including getting RCMP recruitment off campus, and calling for different approaches to safety. Especially for and to be led by Black and Indigenous community members.”

After the arrest of the Black alumni on campus, No Cops on Campus was formed. They aim to “eliminate policing and security presence as it exists now.”

They are campaigning for “a campus and large societal environment that doesn’t rely on violent institutions and practices for community safety,” said Sadiq. “These features that we are advocating for are not a lack of policing, but the presence of strong communities expressed through mutual aid, care support networks, and ongoing education training. These are alternatives that reject tactics of surveillance, violence, or social control used by policing or security systems.”

There are similar chapters of this group at the University of Toronto, University of Alberta, and many institutions across the US, according to Sadiq. 

Spicer added, “The name ‘No Cops on Campus’ doesn’t mean we hate police officers or that we think all police officers are bad people. We really identify this as a structural issue, not as an individual issue.” She noted they are “taking a stand against policing or security structure, ideology, and practice that historically and contemporarily causes harm to people, land, and futures.” 

No Cops on Campus are aiming to discover the current cost of security at SFU, both in-house and contracted security. Spicer reported SFU spent $6.3 million on security throughout the 2020/21 budget year. This has been increased by $300,000 from the previous year.

Additionally, Spicer noted when students are stopped by security on campus and asked for ID, regardless of why they are stopped, it is allegedly added to their permanent record. They are aiming to have that policy removed. 

“Because of SFU’s lack of transparency around policing practices [ . . . ] we don’t even know enough to make tangible policy recommendations. All of the processes and practices are hidden within contracts between SFU and the security firms they contract,” said Spicer. “[Increasing] transparency is crucial to knowing what to ask for.”