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Posted 6:00 am
February 19, 2014
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Students search for definitive answer on why Wong said no to Tasers

SF State President Leslie Wong talks with Xpress news staff about his decision not to arm University police officers with Tasers Monday, Feb. 10. Photo by Jessica Christian / Xpress SF State President Leslie Wong talks with Xpress news staff about his decision not to arm University police officers with Tasers Monday, Feb. 10. Photo by Jessica Christian / Xpress

After an exclusive meeting last week President Wong told Xpress staff about his decision not to arm campus police with Tasers.

Since the decision, student groups involved with the issue have yet to feel satisfaction about the settlement and hope for a more concise answer. Once previously leaning towards the idea of arming campus police with Tasers, Wong came to the realization that if there were a need for more protection and safety on campus, then it wouldn’t be by implementing this tool.

“Right now the relationship between University Police and the campus is pretty good,” said Wong. “And if adding value by another tool causes a decline in the faith, simply because of this tool called Tasers, then is it worth it? It finally dawned on me that maybe it’s not.”

When more issues regarding campus safety surfaced during the meeting, Wong revealed a more detailed explanation behind his decision against Tasers. After a student approached Wong about the blue emergency lights on campus being broken, he knew that there are other things to fix first.

He remembered a compelling argument from a student that really stuck with him. The student said, “let’s get everything in order, that way you have a better sense in making a decision.”

“For an urban campus, I am absolutely amazed how safe campus is until 2 or 3 in the morning. I hope we keep it that way,” said Wong. “If we were that safe until three in the morning, why deploy a tool you apparently don’t need?”

After ASI and Students Against Police Brutality finalized their revisions on a resolution against Tasers, a meeting with the Board of Directors was scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 12 to make the final decision of where ASI would stand on the then possible implementation of Tasers. During the revision process, the groups went through much debate about the resolution to ensure it’s clarification for President Wong.

SAPB remain focused on the issue and don’t believe that the debate should be over yet. While expressing a discontent with the lack of transparency with President Wong’s decision, the group urges campus community to keep fighting for student safety and justice.

“This decision isn’t one for the president to make, it’s a community decision,” said SAPB member Celia LoBuono Gonzalez.

“He hasn’t made a clear commitment on where he even stands on the issue,” added another member, Michael Sanchez. “We need to keep putting the pressure on and build unity among the campus community.”

Even though Wong’s decision was made privately before the meeting took place, he said he still took the resolution into great consideration.

“I hope the students, when they read your article, know that their input was pretty significant,” Wong said during the meeting.

The decision against Tasers can still be changed if circumstances prove that deploying the tool among police officers will be beneficial, but as of now there will not be any Tasers on campus.

Wong mentioned the possibility of San Francisco reevaluating the idea of arming SFPD with Tasers.

The SFPD has been trying to arm its officers with Tasers for years now, but San Francisco government has yet to comply. The SF State University Police Department operates under a different jurisdiction and therefore has the option of arming its officers with Tasers, even if the tool is outlawed in San Francisco.

Wong says he is adamant about securing campus safety and will make any change necessary to assure that.

“If we reach a situation where someone is badly hurt and that a Taser would have been a better tool to use, then I’m going to put it back on the table,” Wong said. “I don’t like making the same mistake twice.”

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