Local Group: Defund and Disband the WVU Police Department

Morgantown, West Virginia – The Solidarity for Equality and Compassion (SEC) of West Virginia University has called for the campus police department to be defunded and disbanded.

According to organizer Sammantha Norris of SEC, “Police officers that are working on campuses need to be knowledgeable about the issues going on, on campus and in the world because they’re a direct representation of the university.”

The SEC sent a petition to West Virginia University President Gee, stating that the WVU Police Department should be defunded and disbanded, and that funds should be reallocated to fund black university initiatives.

The petition to President Gee says, “We want to thank you for your swift commitment to addressing racism on campus with open eyes and open hearts and proclaiming a personal responsibility to do better.  We are writing to urge you to rectify the white supremacist ideologies, ideologies that stem from the all white Board of Governors an the lack of black professors and leadership, that underlie our University with the same diligent attention that was put forth to address the COVID-19 pandemic because racism is a pandemic that spreads and devastates lives, as well.”

The petition lays out a five-step plan that is “needed to provide a safe and open University for students to attend from West Virginia, the US and all over the world.”

  1. Prohibit Confederate flags and symbols on all public spaces of the University.
  2. Disarm University Police.  Having officers work under the campus name who carry firearms does not create a welcoming and inclusive space, especially for black, Indiginous, and people of color students and vistors.
  3. Require yearly bias and sensitivity training, as well as bi-annual town halls with the campus police so students and faculty can voice any issues, complaints and queries.
  4. Re-route a portion of the policing budget to aid in the mental and social welfare of students, particularly to the Carruth Center and the WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
  5. Foster a working relationship with the Morgantown Police Department for any calls needing armed backup, as well as sporting and entertainment event backup.

President Gee has not yet responded to the petition yet, but has been very proactive during this incredibly challenging time in history.