This editorial was originally written in response to GUAPA’s letter to President DeGioia from May 5, 2018.
On May 5, 2018 Georgetown United Against Police Aggression (GUAPA) delivered a letter to President DeGioia urging him to keep GUPD unarmed. The letter was released in response to an earlier effort by GU Advocates for Responsible Defense (GUARD), who submitted a letter asking that the administration arm GUPD.
As this board explained in a recent editorial, we share GUAPA’s belief that arming GUPD would be a potentially dangerous decision. We support the message and actions of GUAPA and commend the students for their advocacy. This board has strongly supported the right of students to demand change, and we hold the belief that students should be active in causes they care about. Earlier this semester, we encouraged students to protest in support of further gun control measures and believe that this activist mindset should be applied widely. In this situation, it is not enough for students to simply say they are against arming GUPD officers without actively taking steps to resist this action.
GUAPA’s letter raised similar concerns to those voiced by this editorial board. It states that arming GUPD officers and increasing the presence of MPD officers would create an unsafe environment for people of color, citing reported incidents in which GUPD was accused of racially profiling students and workers. The letter also asks important questions about the increased risk of violence that may occur if armed officers must react to mental health crises. GUAPA cited the fatal shooting of Scout Shultz at Georgia Tech and an incident at University of Chicago where campus police shot Charles Thomas, a bipolar student of color, while he was in the midst of a psychiatric episode.
GUAPA’s letter reinforces our view that arming GUPD would do more harm than good, and we commend GUAPA for raising important viewpoints on incidents that have affected members of the Georgetown community. As it has since the Voice’s founding, this editorial board supports the efforts of students to advocate for issues they are passionate about. We are glad that GUAPA is standing up for this cause.