CSU oversteps authority on Taser issue

The California State University reached an agreement with the State University Police Association Aug. 27 that mandates that campus police officers have access to an array of equipment, including Tasers. In an email to the CSU presidents and police chiefs, among others, Assistant Vice Chancellor Michael Redmond outlined the details of the new collective bargaining agreement between SUPA and the CSU.

From late 2013 to early 2014, Taser equipment of campus police was a hotly debated topic at SF State, and in February 2014 SF State President Leslie E. Wong announced his decision that University police officers would not be issued Tasers.

We oppose the CSU’s decision to allow campus police to carry Tasers, despite the SF State community’s decision to ban their use.

Regardless of whether or not we as a staff and as individuals agree with Taser use by campus police, SF State reached a clear decision in 2014, and for the CSU to override it is a violation of our autonomy. The CSU should not be able to reverse a decision made by students and University officials without providing clear evidence that such a change was necessary.

There was no debate or democratic process, and the wishes and rights of the students, faculty and staff were trampled by the CSU’s unilateral decision. Wong was not notified of the changes until after they had been finalized, nor was he allowed a chance to participate in the discussion, he said during a meeting with Xpress Aug. 31.

Students and campus groups made their opposition of Taser use clear back in 2013 after a series of student rallies and a panel discussion with Wong. Among their concerns was the possibility of Taser misuse by campus police, the lack of student input and the level of training officers would receive before being allowed to use the electroshock weapon. The CSU addressed none of these concerns before overriding SF State’s interests.

These community discussions resulted in Wong’s decision to take Tasers off the table, saying, “If there is an event that occurs where a Taser could have been a better tool, then we will reopen the discussion, but right now I think the argument is pretty compelling not to have Tasers.”

While Taser use may be a favorable option for other college campuses, SF State has already made its decision. By failing to respect our resolution, the CSU has violated our sovereignty and has removed any hint of democracy from the process all together.