Board of Trustees hears from students, faculty and others on campus safety
Author: Christopher Broderick, University Communications
Posted: October 4, 2018

The PSU Board of Trustees spent more than three hours Thursday hearing comments from students, faculty, staff and community members who packed the Lincoln Performance Hall.  

Most of the comments by more than 40 speakers urged the board to disarm Campus Public Safety officers in the wake of the June 29th fatal officer-involved shooting of Jason Washington. This was the first board meeting since the shooting, and Board Chair Gale Castillo said the board moved it to a venue that accommodated a large crowd and devoted the meeting to public comments.  

“Over the past three months, Mr. Washington’s death has deeply shaken our campus and our community,” she said. “His loss is a tragedy, and want to express our condolences to Mr. Washington’s family.”

Family members attended the meeting but declined to speak.

Luis Balderas-Villagrana, the elected president of the Associated Students of Portland State University, said he appreciated that the board was listening to student concerns before making any decisions.

“I’m not going to blame or point fingers at someone,” he said. “Please listen to students, faculty, staff and the community … Guns are not the solution.”

Members of the PSU Student Union, a separate group, submitted petitions to the board signed by what they said were thousands of students urging PSU to immediately disarm. With signs and chants, they made other demands that campus leadership erect a permanent memorial to Mr. Washington and fire the two officers involved in the June 29th shooting.

About a dozen faculty and staff members also spoke to the board, urging an alternative to providing campus safety that doesn’t involve CPSO officers carrying firearms.  

The board took no action. Castillo said board members “are keeping an open mind” as two consultants with national expertise are starting their work to independently review the shooting and a separate in-depth review of campus safety and security that will include whether to disarm and potential alternatives. She announced that the consultant team from Margolis Healy will conduct nine public forums Oct. 30, 31 and Nov. 1 to gather input as part of their review and to inform their recommendations to the board.

“We recognize the urgency, and we want to move as quickly as we can with these independent reviews,” Castillo said. “At the same time, we want these reviews to be as complete and comprehensive as possible.”

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