One year after the death of Jason Washington by Portland State Campus Public Safety officers, the Board of Trustees made no action toward resolving the ongoing question of disarmament at a June 20 meeting.
Many Disarm PSU activists who attended the meeting were expecting the Review and Response Team, charged with reviewing the Margolis Healy report on PSU’s campus safety released earlier this year, to provide the Board with recommendations, including whether or not to disarm campus public safety officers.
“You’ve been dragging your feet for five years,” said recent graduate Olivia Pace to the Board. “My time here is up. My entire college career has passed us by. And nothing has happened except for somebody has died.”
Other students and recent graduates expressed frustration with the Board’s lack of action since the death of Washington and how little information has been shared with the public about what the Board is doing about campus safety.
“There’s this continual passing off to committees, passing off to these third parties and then saying, ‘we don’t want to rush things; it’s a very sensitive issue,’” Pace said. “Your time is up. I don’t understand what more you can need.”
Interim President Stephen Percy announced a decision will be made in the fall, following a comprehensive review of all the information, reports and committee materials that have accumulated up to this point.
“My sense is it’s time to pivot from deliberation to plans to action,” Percy said. “I think that what I would propose is to gather all the information…[and] that as interim president, I pull together our executive team, look carefully and thoroughly at all the input we have, come up with a plan that probably has some options, and then publicly allow comment and input into that plan and then come back to the Board in the fall with a plan for moving forward.”
Percy also said the plan would likely include several options for the Board to choose from.
“I think it’s time we need to pull the pieces together,” Percy said.
After Percy made the announcement and trustees had a chance to respond, Chair Gale Castillo attempted to close the meeting without allowing audience members to provide comment.
Castillo allowed questions and comments from the audience for an additional 15 minutes after trustees Antonio Leiva and Margeret Kirkpatrick said they would like to hear from the students.