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Letter to the Editor: SSW Faculty and Staff call to Disarm PSU

Dear President Percy and the Portland State University Board of Trustees, 

As members of the PSU School of Social Work, we were glad to see our University’s recent communication supporting Minnesota and Georgia, and the calls for racial justice following the police killing of George Floyd. While it is important to acknowledge these deaths, we must also be accountable for the ways that PSU has been and continues to be complicit with these same violent systems through the presence of armed police on campus. We believe PSU must go further by interrupting our role in perpetuating terror and state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Specifically, we are repeating our demand to #DisarmPSU. 

Faculty, staff, and students of the SSW have been unwavering in our stance against arming campus officers, issuing our first statement in opposition in October 2014. Since the Board of Trustees’ decision in December 2014 to arm CPSO, we’ve worked alongside students, staff and faculty in the campus-wide #DisarmPSU movement. We repeated the call to #DisarmPSU following the killing of Jason Washington by CPSO in 2018. 

Calls to divest from policing are mounting across the country as a result of the nationwide demonstrations following the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Last week the University of Minnesota ended its contract with the Minneapolis Police Department. The ongoing violence against Black communities and the militarized response of the Portland Police Bureau to protests against police brutality prompts us to repeat our previous demands to #DisarmPSU. We repeat this demand echoing the Joint Statement from AAUP, PSUFA, and GEU. We stand in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter Portland’s demand that we #DisarmPSU and in local calls to divest from policing in schools, including Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty’s demand to remove Security Resource Officers from Portland Public Schools

To #DisarmPSU entails an immediate and permanent disarmament of CPSO. Arming CPSO has been costly. In the moment when workers across campus are furloughed, we echo our colleagues’ questions about why this furlough excluded CPSO. Maintaining armed officers is not the only solution to our challenges to public safety. We call on PSU Administration and the Board of Trustees to implement non-police alternatives to policing outlined in PSU Student Union’s counter proposal to the Margolis-Healy report, including bystander intervention workshops, and developing crisis intervention teams to respond to the needs of unhoused members of our campus. These models exist on campus (e.g. Illuminate, a sexual violence prevention program, and Students United for Nonviolence, in Conflict Resolution), and in our broader community (e.g. Eugene’s CAHOOTS program, which responds to unhoused people in crisis not with police, but teams of medics and crisis workers). 

In this critical moment, when we are continuing to see the deep impacts of state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism, it is not enough to just state our values and intentions. We must act. #DisarmPSU #BlackLivesMatter 




Cimone Schwoeffermann, SSW Director of Student Affairs 


gita mehrotra, assistant professor 


Ben Anderson-Nathe, Professor | Child, Youth, & Family Studies 


Stephanie Wahab, Professor 


Miranda Mosier, assistant professor, Child, Youth, & Family Studies 


Ericka Kimball, Assistant Professor 


Antonia RG Alvarez, Assistant Professor 


Alma M. Ouanesisouk Trinidad, Associate Professor 


Mary Oschwald, Associate Research Professor 


Eddie May, Assistant Professor of Practice 


Marina Barcelo, SSW Student Inclusion Coordinator 


Ana Hristić, Assistant Professor of Practice 


Jessica Schmidt, Assistant Director of the Child Welfare Education Program 


Christina Nicolaidis, Professor 


Aysha Crain, Adjunct Professor 


Lee Ann Phillips, Program Administrator, Regional Research Institute 


Mandy Davis, Associate Professor of Practice, Regional Research Institute 


Kate Normand, Senior Research Assistant, Child Welfare Partnership 


Norma Cardenas, Assistant Professor of Practice 


Sarah Bradley, Professor of Practice, MSW Program 


Erin Elizabeth Flynn, Assistant Professor, Child, Youth & Family Studies 


Lisa Hawash, Associate Professor of Practice 


Danielle Phillips, Training Systems Specialist, Systems of Care Institute 


Jessica Hayes, Field Program Assistant 


Julie Kates, Assistant Professor of Practice 


Gary W. Smith, Assistant Professor of Practice 


Stephanie Bryson, BSW Program Director 


Celeste Seibel, Assistant Professor of Practice, Systems of Care Institute 


Jill Hoffman, Assistant Professor 


Carrie Furrer, Research Associate Professor, Center for Improvement of Child & Family Services 


Holly Hein, Administrative Coordinator, Regional Research Institute 


Rhen Miles, Adjunct Faculty 


Colleen Ryan, Administrative Program Assistant, RRI 


Matt Chorpenning, Instructor 


Ann Curry-Stevens, Adjunct Instructor 


Thet Mar Win, Program Administration Specialist 


Amelia Drake, Student Office Assistant 


Maya Novakoski, Student Office Assistant 


Katie Cagle, Behavioral Health Integration Program Project Assistant 


Laura Rodriguez, PhD student School of Social Work 


Amie Thurber, Assistant Professor 


Karen Moorhead, Associate Professor of Practice 


Mollie Janssen, Associate Professor of Practice, alum 


Jana Meinhold, Associate Professor, Child, Youth, & Family Studies 


Adrienne Graf, Field Placement Development Specialist, School of Social Work 


Crystallee Crain, Assistant Professor of Practice, Human Rights Scholar 


Jared I. Best; Instructor, PhD Student; School of Social Work 


Leah Brookner, Assistant Professor of Practice 


Susanne Klawetter, Assistant Professor School of Social Work 


Lisa Cordova, Assistant Professor of Practice 


Kyndra Kappesser, Research Assistant, Center for Improvement of Child & Family Services 


Michele Morales, Assistant Professor of Practice 


Monica Parmley, Adjunct Instructor 


Callie Lambarth, Research Associate, Center for Improvement of Child & Family Services, School of Social Work 


John Waddingham, MSW Student Affairs Assistant 


Anita R. Gooding, Phd Student and Adjunct Instructor, School of Social Work 


Karen Cellarius, Sr Research Associate, Regional Research Institute for Human Services. External evaluator for OHA’s federal Garret Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention grant 


Dora M. Raymaker, Research Assistant Professor, Regional Research Institute for Human Services 


Nicole Lauzus, PhD student, Adjunct Instructor, and Graduate Research Assistant, School of Social Work 


Hillary Hyde, MSW, CFLE, Assistant Professor of Practice 


Kelly Hunter, Senior Research Assistant II, Regional Research Institute for Human Services 


Heather Laurie, LCSW, Adjunct Faculty 


Eileen M. Brennan, Research Professor of Social Work 


Emilie Lamson-Siu, Program Administrator, Regional Research Institute 


Denise Grant, MSW, Assistant Professor of Practice/Field Education Specialist 


Dan Harold, LCSW Adjunct Professor 


Crystal Deffenbaugh, Project Manager of Adoptive and Foster Family Therapy Certificate Program, Child Welfare Partnership 


Stephanie Brockett, MSW Adjunct Instructor Child, Youth, and Family Studies 


Malika Edden Hill, MSW Adjunct Instructor, School of Social Work 


Jennifer Blakeslee, Research Assistant Professor, Regional Research Institute for Human Services, School of Social Work 


Mathew Uretsky, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work 


Sam Harrell, Adjunct Instructor and PhD Student, School of Social Work 


Heather Rowlett, MSW Adjunct Instructor, School of Social Work 


Marin Henderson-Posther, PhD Student, Adjunct Instructor, School of Social Work 


Roberta Hunte, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work 


Dawn Williamson, LCSW, Adjunct Faculty Lindsay Merritt, PhD, MSW, BSW, Senior Research Associate II, Regional Research Institute for Human Services 


Elliott Hinkle, BS, Program Administrator,, Regional Research Institute for Human Services 


Michele Martinez Thompson, Assistant Professor of Practice-Salem DO Coordinator 


Rebecca Love, Assistant Director of Field Education, School of Social Work 


Moira Smith, Administrative Support, Trauma Informed Oregon, Regional Research Institute 


Katherine Kneupper, Adjunct Faculty, SSW 


Sky Lockhart, Trauma Informed Oregon Field Student, BSW Student 


Kelly Myers, PhD Student and Adjunct Instructor, School of Social Work 


Bobbi Ali Zaman, PhD Student and Adjunct Instructor, School of Social Work 


Olivia Wood, Coordinator, Social Determinants of Health Initiative, Regional Research Institute. 


Laura Nissen, Professor, School of Social Work 


Rebecca A. Miller, Senior Research Assistant, Regional Research Institute 


Anna Rockhill, RRI 


John Barnett, Operations and Administrative Services Manager, School of Social Work 


Jessica Rodriguez-JenKins, Assistant Professor, SSW 


Junghee Lee, Professor, SSW Ted Donlan, Associate Professor, SSW 


Stephanie Sundborg, Trauma Informed Oregon, SSW 


Mirah Scharer, Research Assistant, Regional Research Institute 


Molly Oberweiser Kennedy, Assistant Professor of Practice, Systems of Care Institute-CCF-SSW, alum 


Vania Coates, System of Care Institute-CCF-SSW 


Brooke Rizor, CCF – System of Care Institute 


Camilla Pettle, RRI – Trauma Informed Oregon 


Julia Bryson, Adjunct Instructor, SSW 


Keela Johnson, PhD student and Adjunct Instructor, School of Social Work and UNST 


Lorelei Mitchell, Research Associate, CCF-SSW 


Sasha Verbillis-Kolp, MSW, LCSW, Adjunct Faculty School of Social Work and Lecturer, Non-Profit Institute, Hatfield School of Government 


Martha McCormack, Adjunct Instructor, School of Social Work