by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In the last month and a half alone, University of Michigan students have faced two shootings and five sex crimes, including one that occurred inside a campus building. That hasn’t stopped the school from hosting a project that works towards the elimination of campus police.
Assistant professor Charles H.F. Davis III in 2020 founded the University of Michigan’s Campus Abolition Research Lab, which aims to “disrupt and dismantle the carceral university” and create “police-free futures.” As part of that effort, the lab publishes a “#PoliceFreeCampus Podcast” and hosts campus events that teach students how to become “campus abolitionists.” Davis in recent weeks has also reiterated the need to abolish police “now.” Davis and his lab have not, however, commented on the recent crime wave that has plagued his university’s campus.
In late May, a man approached a female student from behind and groped her before carrying on throughout campus and exposing his genitals to other female students, the school’s public safety department said in a crime alert. Just days later, on June 4, a man approached a small group walking a block from campus and shot one of the group’s members following an argument. The next night, a woman attacked a man with a folding knife inside of student housing and fired shots through the man’s window before fleeing. And in the first week of July, two women were sexually assaulted near a dorm and inside of the school’s robotics building, respectively.
So far, the university has not adopted its Abolition Research Lab’s suggestions and has instead used the Ann Arbor Police Department and its own armed campus security force to respond to the crimes. Still, many cities and universities alike have pursued plans to defund police—only to renew their relationships with law enforcement thereafter.