1,000 signatures reached
To: The University of Chicago President and Provost
Open the Books on UCPD
As library workers, our labors are central to the academic mission of a world class research university. As citizens of this University, we are answering the call of #CareNotCops to join their fight. We demand that President Zimmer and Provost Lee meet all the demands of #CareNotCops, beginning with disclosing the budget of the University of Chicago Police Department.
Why is this important?
On June 10, President Zimmer announced austerity measures, including voluntary and mandatory furloughs and the suspension of University contributions to retirement plans. Union-represented staff have been asked to approve cuts to their retirement plans in order to avoid possible layoffs. This is on top of freezing all non-contractual raises across campus and cuts to our collections budget in the Library, which pays for resources like books and journals. The release of the budget is necessary to show how much has been spent, and is budgeted to be spent, on the UCPD. This information is needed to understand the fairness of the cuts to the Library and other units, and to understand the spending priorities of the University.
Questions about police spending are more important than ever Much of the campus, city, and the nation understand this. We view the question of UCPD’s budget as directly relevant to the austerity measures that have been imposed upon us without our consent amidst calls from University administrators to embrace antiracism. If Provost Lee believes that “the Library reflects the University of Chicago’s aspiration to be the most dynamic research and learning environment in the world,” then we need a transparent budget to demonstrate that such professed priorities align with actual spending. If President Zimmer wants our community to do the work of “[a]ddressing racism and creating positive and sustainable change,” then we need immediate concrete steps to dismantle racist policies and policing on campus.
We agree with #CareNotCops that UCPD has failed to create a safe environment on campus and the surrounding community. As library workers, we know firsthand the centrality of the library to research and education. We also know that many patrons consider the library a refuge from a toxic campus environment. But we acknowledge that the Library has failed to be a refuge for some. There must never again be a patron who is subjected to police brutality in the Library.
Like #CareNotCops, we too want “the space to dream and build truly liberatory and collective safety for all.” As library workers, we are often placed in potentially dangerous situations. These situations are likely to be more common now that on site workers are responsible for enforcing social distancing regulations and patrons are more likely to be in heightened states of stress. We are not experts in de-escalation or mental health crises. Currently, if we are in immediate danger our choice is either to call armed law enforcement, who have a record of using violence and racial profiling, or to attempt to defuse the situation on our own, which could put ourselves or patrons in danger. We need a better option. We deserve a better option. For this reason, we also endorse the statement of the Maroon Editorial Board. The University must immediately transition to an unarmed, emergency management service that is aligned with anti-oppressive principles.
If this University truly prioritizes research, education, and the safety and well-being of its community, then we demand that its leaders show this.