JULY 21, 2020 

Dear Mr. Williams:

Portland State University proudly sits in the heart of downtown Portland, historically welcoming over 30,000 people into the city center daily. Even with the significant impacts of COVID-19, nearly 800 students call our campus home. Hundreds more converge on the south Park Blocks every day for research, education, business, operational, and maintenance activities. Our students, faculty and staff are deeply integrated into this vibrant city. PSU does not stop at our campus borders, and my concern for our students, faculty and staff likewise does not end at the physical edge of our university.

I have watched with deep concern as federal officers from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security descended on our downtown and disrupted our city. I seek your commitment to work with all necessary federal agencies to ensure that these officers do not engage in law enforcement action on or around our campus. PSU remains a safe space for intellectual and academic activity and for a wide range of community partnerships. To be clear: We neither seek nor need federal law enforcement assistance.

For generations, PSU students have exercised their right to peacefully protest about issues both local and national. This powerful form of social expression is more important than ever, as our community and our nation address centuries of systemic racism and entrenched societal injustice. I support the right of our students, faculty and staff to speak out in non-violent solidarity with other Portlanders demanding accountability and action. Yet the unnecessary and unwarranted actions of some federal officers place our city’s citizens, including members of the PSU community, at significant risk.

Portland did not seek this federal intervention and the result appears to be more violence, not less. I strongly endorse the demand by our elected and community leaders to investigate the allegations of abusive and excessive actions from federal officers and I join them in condemning any inappropriate use of force and calling for their immediate disengagement.

Stephen Percy, President