Campus, News

CSULB’s ASI advocates for reallocating funds from campus police to mental health services

The Associated Students, Inc. Senate proposed a resolution Wednesday that pushes to reallocate funds from Long Beach State’s University Police Department to Counseling and Psychological Services in an effort to find alternative ways to increase campus safety.

The resolution is an ASI collaboration with Students for Quality Education, a group formed by California State University students, and aims to address police brutality against Black Americans following the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, in a Minneapolis suburb by a white officer.

During public comment of Wednesday’s senate meeting, Randy Santiago, second-year political science major and member of SQE, voiced his support for the resolution and acknowledged the incident in Minneapolis and others around the country.

“I want to send my condolences out to the family of Daunte, may he rest in peace, and everyone else who has been murdered at the hands of the government and by the police force,” Santiago said.

According to CSULB’s Division of Administration and Finance, the 2020-21 internal budget for university police is over $3 million while CAPS is just over $1 million.

At this time, CAPS has 10 licensed psychologists, three licensed counselors and just one licensed psychiatrist.

ASI Vice President Maythe Alderete Gonzalez said that the proposal tackles the history of police brutality against communities of color within the university and underscores the lack of mental health resources such as sufficient counselors on campus.

“The resolution is calling on the redistribution of funds towards mental health services to ensure we are reaching the ratio necessary to serve our large student population and also representing our diverse student demographics right, so students really want to be seen and heard,” Gonzalez said.

According to the 2020 Annual Security Report, on-campus hate crimes have decreased between 2017 to 2019.

ASI Senator At-Large Sumaiyah Hossain, who is one of the authors behind the resolution, added that the resolution calls attention to an issue of transparency and “making sure any information or any action taken, there is transparency among students or for the students.”

“One of the issues I know folks encountered, when writing the resolution, was when it came to finding information about the budgets. So making sure that all information is up to date and is reflected accurately in order to, you know, have that transparency between students and the university,” Hossain said.

ASI Senator Jubilee Munozvilla also expressed support for increasing funds for mental health services, though she suggested an alternative to defunding campus police. As someone who is often on campus late at night, she proposed having officers retrained out of concern for others seeking security.

“I’m a female, and sometimes when I get out of lab, it’s really late at night. And not having some type of like security or some type of companion that kind of like worries me a lot because I mean, if it’s just me, I don’t know what could happen,” Munozvilla said.

Gonzalez added that ASI’s goal is to prioritize all students’ safety and feels that the police department presents a peril to the campus.

“I’m also like you, being afraid of walking at nighttime. I think my first year I was always looking out for who was there, and I think for me, personally, I don’t necessarily feel safe calling the police department to escort me, but we know that there are alternative methods,” Gonzalez said.

The resolution was approved for its first reading, and ASI senators maintained that moving forward they will continue to clarify the logistics behind how much money will be reallocated to CAPS.

Associated Students, Inc. Senate will reconvene via Zoom next Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

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