White Supremacy is Not a Safe and Just Pandemic Response for All

August 25, 2020 — On Thursday, the Ann Arbor Police Department (AAPD) announced they will partner with the University of Michigan to police student gatherings in the coming semester in the name of public health.

Policing and surveillance are not “public health informed”; they are harmful to physical and mental health. Increased police presence on campus and in the wider community will further jeopardize the safety of Black and brown graduate workers, students, faculty, staff, and community members in the midst of a pandemic that is already disproportionately ravaging Black and brown communities. Further, the decision to increase campus police presence blatantly undermines the University’s stated commitments to racial justice in response to this summer’s surge of Black Lives Matter protests. A safe and just pandemic response for all requires robust plans for testing, guaranteed remote work options, support for caregivers and international students, and financial security for all — not overt partnerships with white supremacy.

In GEO’s last contract campaign this spring, we demanded disarming and demilitarizing campus police, which the university refused to bargain over. GEO continues to organize around a demilitarized workplace, diverting funds from campus police, and ending ties to local law enforcement. The University has again refused to bargain over these demands in our current impact bargaining negotiations, claiming that they are not relevant to University COVID-19 policies, but Thursday’s announcement shows how urgent and linked our membership’s priorities are.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) is a labor union that represents over 2,000 Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs) at the University of Michigan. Founded in 1974, it is one of the oldest and longest-running graduate student unions in the United States. 

Press Contact: commchair@geo3550.org 
Leah Bernardo-Ciddio and Cassandra Euphrat Weston
Co-Chairs, Communications Committee
Graduate Employees’ Organization 3550


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