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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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Historic Senate Resolution Passes to Improve Training of Future Law Enforcement Officers

The resolution passes for improved criminal justice education and training.
By SDSU News Team

San Diego State University’s faculty leaders have unanimously approved a resolution to specifically address the training of police officers and others within law enforcement following nationwide unrest related to the treatment of African Americans. The changes will go into effect beginning this summer, resulting in new programs for law enforcement officers and a requirement that every student in criminal justice take coursework on Black people and policing.

In a special meeting held June 4, members of the University Senate condemned the continuous acts of violence against Black peoples. The faculty-driven resolution also requires every undergraduate student earning a degree in criminal justice to take coursework on race-relations, criminal justice, and policing. The coursework will intentionally address violence against the Black community by those in positions of authority. Further, the resolution also directs SDSU to offer a free or low-cost course to law enforcement officers across the nation on race relations and policing.

“Our Public Affairs faculty are immersed in the struggle to improve equity and justice in all public institutions and services. We mobilized quickly to review and improve our criminal justice curriculum to ensure our students, many of whom will work in law enforcement and other justice-related institutions, have a better developed understanding and appreciation of Black communities. Building understanding is our calling as a university, and desperately needed in this particular context to eliminate such acts of racially-motivated violence by public servants.” said Sherry Ryan, Director of the School of Public Affairs. 

“We must, and are, using our position as an educational institution to try and effect needed change in our world. We call upon other colleges and universities across the nation to similarly require coursework that challenges those entering into the field of law enforcement to better prepare officers who uphold the value of Black lives,” said J. Luke Wood, Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity. 

“It is imperative for any institution whose stated mission is to prepare students for being contributing members to society to initiate this historic measure. It will ensure that our graduates become a part of the solution rather than confounding the problems of police violence and other forms of oppression. It is only positive that an institution begins centering the African American experience in their learning outcomes. I pray that San Diego State University inspires other institutions to help prepare generations of Americans to commit to the solution of dismantling every system of oppression in this country,” said Adisa A. Alkebulan, Associate Professor and chair of Africana Studies. 

“This was the first time SDSU Senate has called an Expanded Senate Executive Committee meeting in our history,” said Nola Butler Byrd, Vice Chair of the University Senate and  Associate Professor of Counseling and School Psychology. “This reflects the critical importance we place on not just talking about racism, but acting as an antiracist community. The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade at the hands of racist and militarized police officers weigh heavily as they join so many others, and the racist and violent response to the current protest is heartbreaking as well. We hope that this resolution helps us as a community move from tragedy to transformation.”

The passing of this resolution, in the first ever meeting of the Expanded University Senate Executive Meeting, follows a number of statements from University leaders, including SDSU President Adela de la Torre. “Mere words without action are futile.” she said in her May 30th statement to the community. “Know that decisive steps to heal our community and right the wrongs against our Black community members, and our communities of color, will continue and increase. I urge each of you to live through love. It is the first step to counter unacceptable, and equally painful, forms of racial bias and violence within our community.”

Further, we are aware the initial moments of the meeting were zoombombed, in which racist and hateful statements were made against members of the African-American community at SDSU. We do not tolerate and are deeply opposed to any actions motivated by racism or that serve to marginalize individuals or groups based on their social identities. It is a testament to the incredible support from our faculty, students, and staff, who make up the University Senate, that this attempt to disrupt the passing of this resolution was unsuccessful, and the body unanimously supported the passing of this action as the meeting continued.  

We remind our community that any incidents may be reported via Inclusive SDSU.