Senate disagrees on BLM bill condemning CSPD violence

Annika Schmidt

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     The Student Government Association (SGA) Senate met Thursday for their second virtual meeting of the semester. Senators were presented with Senate Resolution 01 (SR01) titled “Supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement.”  

     The bill was authored by Senator of Graduate School and Speaker of the Senate Nicholas St. John. The bill also condemns the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) for violence during peaceful BLM demonstrations last summer and calls upon the city of Colorado Springs to fire CSPD Police Chief Vince Niski. 

     There was debate among senators stemming from the verbiage and actions called for in the resolution. 

     Student Body Vice President Rachel Cauwels spoke on behalf of herself and Student Body President Aidan Meadows before the resolution was presented to encourage senators to table, or postpone, the consideration of SR01.  

     Cauwels expressed support for the BLM movement, but believed the bill was not authored in the interest of UCCS students. “Black Lives Matter is not a PR [public relations] stunt and we should take our time to craft a thoughtful resolution that calls for action and change. [BLM] is not a trend and [SR01] treats it as such.” 

     Junior women’s and ethnic studies major Irina Amouzou attended the meeting to speak in support of SR01. “The University and, right now, the student government, have a duty to stand with Black and Indigenous [students] and other students of color against white supremacy that targets its students,” Amouzou said.  

     “Our lives aren’t to be tabled.” 

A Black Lives Matter protest in Colorado Springs. June 2020.
Photo courtesy of Colorado Springs Independent.

     Caleb Hall, senator of the arts, was in support of tabling the bill until a later meeting on the grounds that the actions requested in the bill would not be effective at inciting change. “Firing the police chief and giving jurisdiction to an organization that we are not directly related to does not ensure safety for all of our students on campus,” Hall said. 

     “We need to think long term and what is producing the best outcome for all of our students on campus to benefit and help people who are oppressed.” 

     Hall suggested that students and members of student government start constructive conversations with commanders and chief officers from the local community who are engaged in outreach programs, rather than encouraging the city of Colorado Springs to fire senior members of CSPD.  

     Despite providing alternative courses of action to support students of color, Hall did not make a motion to amend or change the wording of the resolution. 

     “This is the first real action I have seen on behalf of the University,” said Senator of Multicultural Affairs Miles Jones of the proposed resolution. “This is the first time I’ve actually felt that the University is speaking on my behalf and that I can actually have a voice.” 

     Of police brutality in the Colorado Springs community, Senator of Letters, Arts and Sciences Aidan Clark said, “While this specific resolution might be rushed, I think it’s way past time for us to speak up and say something.” 

     The senate voted 9-6 in favor of tabling the bill and resuming discussion at a later meeting. Their next meeting is open to the public and will take place on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. Email [email protected] for Zoom access information.