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Apr 5, 18

“Occupying Anthony Hall”: Statement Released from Chancellor’s Office in Carbondale

The following is a statement from the ongoing occupation of Anthony Hall to demand the end of the proposed ‘Cop Academy’ on the Southern Illinois campus.

Dear Students of Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the wider community,

At this moment we are occupying the Chancellor’s office in Anthony Hall. We have been invited  by the Chancellor to stay as long as we wish, and we thank him for his hospitality.

Earlier today, in response to pressure from students and the community, the Chancellor announced to the graduate council that the decision on the cop academy was being “tabled.” We understand this to be a Public Relations move on the part of the administration: pass the decision on the cop academy off to another group, put it off to another time, thereby sidestepping the pressure that students and community members have built against the proposal. We are happy to hear that the Chancellor and his administration are not personally committed to seeing the construction of a cop academy on the SIU campus, but kicking the can down the road on this matter is not enough. We need a firm assertion that there will not be a cop academy at SIU. We intend to accept the Chancellor’s hospitality here in his office until we get it. We invite everyone else who opposes the cop academy proposal to join us. Bring snacks.

We oppose the creation of a cop academy – or a “public safety institute” or whatever they want to call it – for reasons that are obvious to many and completely incomprehensible to some. To say it clearly: the police, by their nature, are violence-workers who use the threat of death, kidnapping, beatings, and caging people to enforce the power of the few over the many. This is the reason for their creation – as slave patrols and as hired thugs to beat up organizing workers – and it has never ceased to be their purpose. We oppose the expansion of their power onto the university campus. We oppose the illusion that these problems can simply be solved by “better training” or “police reform.” Like the prison system, every police reform has ended up deepening their control over society. We live in the largest police and prison state the world has ever seen, and we are saying “no” to this proposed expansion of it.

The police and their powers are growing, at a time of increased racist violence, deepening inequality, and ecological catastrophe. As was clearly demonstrated in Standing Rock last year, it is the police who ultimately maintain the power of the fossil fuel industries, using their violence to protect the fossil fuel infrastructure projects that poison the earth. The proposed restructuring continues support for fossil fuel research, something the Chancellor himself has had academic and business interests in. We can no longer allow pursuit of a degree to obscure our responsibility to the wider world.

In other words, we are not just opposed to the cop academy. Many of us also have deep reservations about the Chancellor’s proposed restructuring. During a brief conversation with the Chancellor this afternoon, it became clear that his perception of the restructuring proposal is deeply at odds with the perspective of students, faculty members, and others in the Carbondale community. The Chancellor seems convinced that this is a process that centers the thoughts, desires, and needs of teachers and students. He seems convinced that his administration is a model of “shared governance.” This perspective is greatly at odds with what most of us have heard and experienced.

Everyone agrees that SIU needs to be “restructured.” But the only option for “restructuring” that has been recognized by the Chancellor has been one fashioned from above, imposed as a utopian vision concocted by managers, careerists, and bureaucrats. Opposed to this, we offer a question: what might it look like to ‘restructure’ the university from below?

Here in Anthony Hall, we’re having conversations – about the school, about the police, about the wider trends in society that got us to this place. Its comfortable, casual, and educational. In a sense, a “No Cop Academy” has been created in this office, that had previously been very bland. It now has some life in it. What would it look like for us to extend this life to other parts of the campus? For us to become the restructuring that we want?

We’ll stay here until the Chancellor tells us the cop academy is definitively cancelled. We invite you all to join us in this process of restructuring the university from below, turning its buildings into sites of reflection and experimentation directed toward the immediate issues facing our school, our community, and our world.

The No Cop Academy

Occupying Anthony Hall

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