Recent events, here at PSU and nationally, raise deep concerns for academics and educators, and for society at large, about the use of deadly force in society. The ease with which violence often crowds out every other method of engagement is frightening.
The tragic killing of Jason Washington, an innocent, law-abiding member of our community, on June 29 by members of PSU armed campus security, ought to cause the PSU Board of Trustees and President Shoureshi’s administration to ponder, again: Should a university — its leadership or its personnel, ever have the power and responsibility to make decisions about life and death? The deadly use of force raises serious enough problems for a democracy when it is institutionalized in the state.
Nationally, the extended war on the press by the current administration, and some of its high-visibility supporters, is also cause for great concern for our professions. When the state declares the press to be the “enemy of the people,” it no longer respects the delicate boundaries between state and civil society and the potential consequences are deadly, as in the shooting of five journalists with the Capital Gazzete in Annapolis. This matters to us as citizens concerned with the health of our democracy, but also because as academics, we share with journalists a profesional and ethical commitment to freedom of inquiry.
For 104 years AAUP has been the national vehicle and voice for academics and allied academic professions to protect the integrity of the university and to protect academic freedom from abuses of concentrated power. Local and national events call us to continue doing this work without respite. The colleagues you’ve elected to lead PSU-AAUP will.
José Padín, President, PSU-AAUP