Cornell’s student assembly votes against disarming campus police; outraged students vow to remove from office those who voted the wrong way

November 22, 2020 • 1:00 pm

It’s possible that Cornell University doesn’t need a campus police department, much less one with armed officers, but the University itself clearly decided they needed one (parents like to know that their kids have their own “security guard force”). This isn’t my call, though I would maintain that, due to my own school’s location on the crime-ridden South Side, the University of Chicago does need cops with guns.

But, as we know, students at almost every campus with its own police have called for defunding them or for disarming those cops who carry weapons. (This includes the University of Chicago.)  What’s unusual is what happened at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where the student government voted down a resolution to disarm the cops. Click below to see the article in the student paper, the Cornell Daily Sun:

You can see the long resolution below that decries the cops for three pages with “wheras”s concentrating on racism, and then proposes the short resolution:

Be it therefore resolved,

Supporting data and trends overwhelmingly show that police on college campuses should not have access to lethal weapons as it is unnecessary and proves to increase the likelihood of danger/use of lethal force rather than decrease;

Be it finally resolved,Cornell University must take action by immediately disarming the Cornell University Police department of all lethal weapons.

There is no data that convincingly show that disarmed campus police reduce crime (or harm) more than armed police, though the resolution adduces data showing that unarmed security patrols reduce crime compared to no patrols.  The way to deal with this issue, if you want a good study, is simply to disarm the Cornell Police for several years and see if there is less crime or less harm. That is not going to happen, though, as the students have no say in whether the police are armed or not. While it is possible to do a sort-of-controlled study, that one would be polluted by possible temporal changes in crime. All it would take to settle the issue, though, is one school shooting to which campus police couldn’t respond in kind.

After a fractious three-hour meeting, the student assembly, the SA, voted down the resolution 14-15-1. I’m stupefied not only that the vote was against disarming, but was such a close vote (these things are usually lopsided on the Woke side).

Immediately, a group of protesting students accused the SA of racism. From the Daily Sun:

While the protest occurred at the CUPD headquarters, the other target of organizers was clear: Recalling the 15 Student Assembly voting members who voted against the resolution.

25 thoughts on “Cornell’s student assembly votes against disarming campus police; outraged students vow to remove from office those who voted the wrong way

  1. Are these police proper police, not just security guards, if so how do they fit into the structure of policing in each state & nationally? I mean I suppose most police have powers within state government structures?

    I also suppose US campus police have powers limited to a campus? Also I suppose US universities must be massive? Are there clear boundaries? Do you go through a sort of border post to get onto a campus?

    1. American public university campuses are typically gigantic affairs with tens of thousands of students (and many thousands of faculty). University police on such campuses are typically a branch of the metropolitan police force in the city in which the university is located. Often such university districts experience significant enough levels of violent crime—including crimes on campus itself—that there can be no question that the police must be armed. The cops at my own university carry standard police weapons, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      1. Ta- so proper police within the police structure. Just not clear why they cannot be part of the ordinary police force doing it, rather than specially for the university?!

        1. dom, I *think* it’s because cities often regard university districts as somewhat special regions of the city that have their own specific problems and issues, and need a specialized subportion of the police service that understands those specific kinds of concerns. A dedicated branch of the police that understands those specifics makes it much easier for everyone. The idea is that the police assigned to the university can work more flexibly with the administration, which often operates as a kind of authority unto itself within the campus boundaries. I can’t swear to it, but I’m pretty sure this is the thinking involved, and it often *seems* to work that way, anyway.

  2. I think it would be interesting to see what a campus wide vote of all the students would be on the subject of disarming the police. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if it turned out that the majority of them are quite happy that their police officers carry guns.

    I think the defunders shout loudly, but I don’t thin there’s really all that many of them.

  3. We used to pack up our troubles. Now people are being taught to unpack their trauma. Concentrating on disappointment in this way can’t be good.

  4. It’s funny how times and places differ. Going to university in the UK in the seventies … security/police (never mind armed security) was barely a thing. I can’t recall, at UEA, seeing security or coming across security. At U of B’ham, security was in effect traffic wardens who stemmed the flow of cars into the university. They were colloquially referred to as harpies.

    I also recall seeing my first armed policeman in the UK. It was outside of an El Al travel agent in London, the policeman seemed to be just standing there with a machine gun of some sort.


    1. You are correct the times and especially the place is changed. In the U.S. the idea of having any kind of police force, on a campus or a large firm for example and not being armed? It would be madness. Just waving at someone driving by can get you shot. Imagine having security police at a large shopping mall. They would always be armed, otherwise, what is the point?

        1. Depends how quick on the draw you are, I suppose… Spoiler alert: There’s no guarantee that the good guy wins.

    2. When waiting for the bus at Johns Hopkins in the 1990s, I always use to read the Crime Log up on the old-style bulletin board, which usually seemed to run to 70-odd episodes a week: usually included a mugging etc. It doesn’t seem to have changed too much:

      IIRC, they cover a few blocks around the campuses where students live and shop.

      As to disarming, the most ethical option is a trial randomized on night – criminals would have to be blinded to which night it was, of course.

  5. Maybe they should demand a recount on the basis of unproven vote tampering, allege without evidence that the vote was stolen when that demand fails, and then try to get the Supreme Court to overrule the original decision. Who’da thunk these student activists shared Trump’s opinions when it comes to democracy?

  6. The best way to end this “disarm the cops” noise is for the police to go on strike, and not come back until the *people* (in this case, the students) petition them to come back. Meanwhile, the cops can moonlight as private security guards.

    When the cops do come back to work, they should be armed with hand-held stun-guns, stun-batons, wireless tasers, stun-shields and smoke grenades — and thorough training in their use. A bunch of ZAPPed and snoring rioters can be safely and easily cuffed and carried off.

    1. No, that’s the worst case scenario.

      The people who want to disarm the police belong to America’s elite. Before anything bad happens to these high-status individuals, the less well-off (who had no say, as the world goes) will have suffered much more. A populist uprising that restores good and sensible policies is a romantic proposal, but also likely to fail.

      1. They currently are. Then they’re going to be unleashed just in time for Christmas – what could possibly go wrong…?

  7. As our host points out, the more students of this sort thrill themselves by crying “defund police! disarm police!”, the more citizens in the general population will unpack their own trauma by voting for Republicans. Geniuses like the Seattle City Council who propose to merely halfdefund the police are only half as valuable to the Republicans, but presumably every little bit helps. A shame that so few Repub strategists, other than Steve Bannon, express their gratitude aloud.

  8. I wonder which ‘disciplines’ Chukwukere and Woldai are theoretically supposed to be ‘studying’. They seem to have plenty of time to polish up their wokeness.

  9. One seems to hear little about diverting some the funding for urban police forces to social spending–funding on, for example, how to act humanely and successfully in suicide intervention, e.g. without feeling the need to bring along an AR15.

    Has there been any discussion of that here, perhaps in a different thread?

    More generally, how about discussion of people using words in a much less crude way? “Defunding” for crap’s sake!

    Perhaps even having elementary schooling that teaches people decently before they become what seems to now be ‘the rabble’, that is, undergrad university students who are linguistically, geographically and historically more ignorant than their great-grandparents who got 8 years or less of schooling.

    The many problems in reality are far more fundamental than wokiness, which would quickly disappear in a better educated populace.

    That seems to almost apply to a good many academics in the arts and social sciences, people who ostensibly have closer to 28 years of (mis?) schooling.

  10. I was a Cornell graduate a little over 50 years ago, but I rather suspect that many things have not changed. It is not a huge school like the U of Illinois and I seriously doubt that there are any potential rioters there, and if there is an “organized” group complaining about something it is probably composed of students from what we called the “Lower Campus.” The “Upper Campus” was where almost all the life science classes were taught and now even zoology has moved up the hill. I watched a group of lower campus protesters (Viet Nam war) and one was going to burn his draft card. The tension was palpable. He finally got the nerve to burn it, and I think everyone thought all hell and half the police force would be there within minutes. Nothing happened. I believe the response would be the same today. What if you gave a riot and no one came? No police ever on the campus. Ithaca is essentially a small town.

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