Students call for administrators to end contracts with Town of Poughkeepsie Police, act in support of protestors

Dear President Bradley and Vassar Administrators, 

Recently, students at the University of Minnesota successfully got their administration to end optional ties with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). The University made the decision to not contract with the MPD for specialized services and for large events. The Minneapolis Public School Board will soon vote on school districts with the MPD. It is clear to Minneapolis residents that the MPD is a threat to the safety of the community and must be defunded and held accountable for its racist violence. Justice cannot be served to George Floyd and others murdered by the police department if institutions like the police continue to hold dangerous power over community members. 

As a result of these actions, students across the so-called “United States” are engaging with solidarity actions with the protesters in Minneapolis and calling for an end to police violence in our local communities. As Vassar students, we are calling on Vassar to act in support of the Poughkeepsie community and meet demands for justice. We know Vassar prides itself on building connections with the community outside the Vassar bubble, so we hope Vassar can live up to its ideals and stand for justice, at all times, and in all its forms. 

Vassar must cut all ties and contracts it holds with the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department. Vassar must not increase its own security department and work to decrease it. Vassar must actively ensure that increased policing does not get directed onto Poughkeepsie residents and make a formal statement to the Poughkeepsie Town and City Boards to demand the defunding of the police department. In 2019, Jamelia Barnett and Julissa Dawkins were forcefully and violently arrested by the Poughkeepsie police for no reason other than being black teenagers around a group of students. The Town police budget has increased each year since 2015. With this increased police presence on and around campus, we are concerned about the safety for our Black students of color on campus and local Poughkeepsie residents that may be targeted by Poughkeepsie police. One place to start is by defunding the K-9 unit and redirecting those funds to community organizations that are actually working to make Poughkeepsie safer. 

Most urgently, Vassar must support the Poughkeepsie community members fighting and organizing for justice. Vassar, as an institution with resources that the Poughkeepsie community does not have, should provide protection to protesters, including supplies and financial support, and meet long-term needs. As the Minneapolis uprising spreads to city after city, calls for action, justice and solidarity are happening in Poughkeepsie. An upcoming action on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, to demand justice for George Floyd and all those who never got justice and call for the end of police violence, requires the support of Vassar. Specifically, organizers are requesting hand sanitizer, water and face mask donations, and above all PHYSICAL SUPPORT. With all the donations coming through Vassar from alum and parents, we ask that Vassar show up for our brothers, sisters and siblings by bringing donations to the Harriet Tubman Academic Skills Center (on the corner of East-bound Arterial and Market) before 4 p.m. on Tuesday. 

Please confirm your commitment and plans by the morning of June 2 by issuing a statement to the Vassar community. 


Melissa Hoffmann ’21

Sicily McLaughlin, ’21

Schuyler Osgood, ’21

Frances Cornwall ’21

Alice Woo, ’20

Andrea Everett, ’20

Naomi Zeltzer, ’21

Beatrix Jones, ’20

Elizabeth Borchard ’24

Benji Mathot, ’22 

Mollie Lipkowitz ’20

Melyssa Cave ’20

Diana Henry ’20

Maeve Smith ’24

Ariana Bowe ’20

Tamika Whitenack ’21

Jack Oliver ’22

Celeste Weidemann ’23

Samirah Aziz ’21

Amelia Cabrera ’21

Christopher Unruh ’23

Mohtad Allawala ’23

Mahalia Hunter ’23

Nicholas Christenson ’21

James Weinstock ’22

Eli Kaufman ’21

Nathan Johnson ’23

Oona Maloney ’22

Margot Gordinier ’24 

Zoë Turner-Debs ’21

Ha Bui ’22

Kanako Kawabe ’22

Jesse Jenkins ’21

Elijah Appelson ’23

Alex van Biema ’22

Chelsea Zak ’23

Lucy Brown ’22

Riley Olds ’23

Will Clendenning ’‘23

Laura Tylinska ’‘23

Emily Tincher ’‘23

Hadley Sparks ’24

Josie Cressler ’23

Gabor Fu Ptacek ’22

Lilly Tipton ’22

Phoebe Murray ’21

Juliet Godwin ’22

Tammy Wang ’21

Ceci Villaseñor ’22

Vanessa Vazquez ’21

Sydney Duncan ’24

Molly Dolman ’20

Caitlin Wong ’23

Spencer D McGrath ’21

Cassie Cauwels ’22

Yesenia Garcia ’20

Jane McLeod ’20

Katia Galambos ’21

Julia Siegel ’22

Ethan Ross ’22

Olivia Fiol ’20

Yasmin Mohamed ’23

Brandon Lam ’23

Brian Cuautle Garcia ’22

Nadia Tate ’20

Elizabeth Smith ’20

Molly Manafo ’21

Jonan Kiang ’21

Ella Xiao ’21

Caitlin Patterson ’22

Jeremy Sass ’22

Sevine Clarey ’20

Sarah Roth ’21

Martin Burstein ’23

Nanako Kurosu ’22

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