Some California college students are pushing back against proposed legislation that would allow the state’s private colleges to charge people for trespassing on campus, something the state’s public schools are already allowed to do.
“I just feel like it’s kind of the epitome, again, of why police don’t work,” said Pitzer College graduate Alessia Milstein, according to a report by Jefferson Public Radio. “You’re trying to solve every conflict with a catchall that is rooted in colonialism and white supremacy.”
Milstein’s concerns stem from a bill working its way through the California legislature that would grant private colleges the ability to charge people with trespassing on their campus, making it a misdemeanor that can be enforced by police. The state’s public K-12 and universities already have the ability to enforce the rule, but private schools have been forced to give out warning letters they say have not made a significant difference.
Some private schools pointed to incidents in recent years in which trespassers entered their campuses and made racist remarks to Asian students or harassed female students, arguing that the lack of ability to enforce trespassing rules has left people on campus less safe.
But opponents of the bill say that allowing police to enforce trespassing rules on college campuses will lead to racial profiling and more negative interactions with police. Students also worried that the bill would restrict movement through campus for members of the local community, noting that campuses are typically located within cities without clear boundaries.
Tess Gibbs, a senior at Scripps College, argued the proposed legislation would offer “more negatives than positives.”
“I just question how much this would actually significantly increase safety of students, which seems to be its intention,” Gibbs said.
But Democratic State Sen. Anthony Portantino, who authored the bill, argues the legislation is designed to increase safety on campus.
“We have to make sure it’s applied in a way that makes sense,” Portantino said.
John Ojeisekhoba, the president-elect of a campus-policing association, said his organization supports the legislation because it will bring “clairty” to the consequences for trespassing on campus while giving officers the ability to use their best judgment.
“It will give an officer a significant level of deterrence. That will be the difference. Right now, there’s just no such thing, ” he said.
The bill passed the California State Senate 34-0 in January and is now scheduled to be in front of the Assembly Public Safety Committee next week.