NO COPS ON CAMPUS COLLECTIVE
No Cops on Campus Statement on the April 24 LRT Incident
The No Cops on Campus Collective is deeply saddened by the assault of an international student on the University LRT platform on the evening of April 24th. A person was physically harmed, reached out for help from those around them, and was ignored by bystanders. This is deeply upsetting and we would like to extend our support as a collective to the student who was harmed. It is crucial for our campus community to collectively imagine how we can contribute to a different, more responsive, and more robust practice of keeping each other safe.
NCOC wants a safer campus community for everyone. We know it’s scary to think about the violence that takes place in our community all the time, and that this violence disproportionately impacts some of us. In the face of that reality, it’s natural to reach for something – anything – that would ‘fix’ the problem. But we know policing is not the answer. Police spend a very small portion of their work responding to violent crime, let alone preventing it. Violence is an everyday occurrence in our municipality despite (and often because of) the presence of a high profile police force. No number of additional patrols will eliminate the possibility of violence on campus. And a heightened police presence on campus will make many students less – not more – safe. So long as we rely on the idea that police keep us safe, we neglect the need to look out for each other and to build our capacity to respond to instances of violence with compassion and care.
We believe we are all the answer. NCOC believes in collectively imagining alternative models of safety and accountability. A different future is possible; in fact, it’s already happening. It happens when we feel uncomfortable with something going on around us and choose to talk about it with others instead of pretending it’s ‘not our problem.’ It happens when we check in and see if someone who’s sleeping rough on campus needs something instead of calling campus security on them. It happens when someone is struggling with a mental health crisis and we have the skills to support them in the moment and connect them to additional resources. We don’t have the answer to every situation where you might want to call the police, but that’s where our imagination comes in. We must continue to imagine and bring into being life-affirming modes of care and accountability that recognize our collective responsibility for each other's safety and wellbeing.
We recognize that people perpetuate violence for complex reasons. As an abolitionist collective, we want to complicate the idea that those who engage in violence are disposable and must be expelled from our communities and spaces. We want to reiterate our support and compassion to the student harmed. And we also want to extend support and compassion to David Durocher, whose situation remains uncertain. Violence cannot be combated or resolved through policing and the penal system, which only perpetuates further violence. An abolitionist approach to justice recognizes that we must take into account the conditions in which harm is perpetuated, and affirms the possibility of accountability and healing for everyone. As transformative justice practitioner Mia Mingus says, the only way to end violence is to respond to it without creating more violence or relying on structures of violence, such as the carceral state. This is why we need to imagine alternative structures and modes of accountability that extend care to all involved in and impacted by harm.
NCOC is invested in collective education around how to respond to a threatening situation and to promote a culture of campus safety by mutual responsibility. As such, we demand that:
The university commit significant funding and resources to require bystander intervention training for all university members.
The university increase funding for the Safewalk program.
The Student Code of Conduct be redesigned to emphasize our obligations as treaty people, including our collective responsibility for keeping one another safe.
We know that this incident has particularly impacted the international student community and we affirm that no one should have to fear for their safety. We welcome an open dialogue with the International Student Association as well all other community members about how we can work to create a safer campus for all and how we can intervene in moments of harm. NCOC does not speak for the student body, but is invested in safety for all students.