Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Many of you have asked me to issue a preliminary assessment of the events occurring on November 18, 2011, and to describe the actions taken to date by me and Executive Council. I know I have asked extraordinary patience of you while I undertake the job that I was appointed to do as your Chair of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate. As a scientist it is not in my nature to get ahead of the data; as a faculty member I put the students first. When I saw the first video of the brutality on the quad I felt as if I had been stabbed in the heart, a feeling I know the majority of you share.
My first communication to the Chancellor on Friday, November 18th was to make sure the charges against the students would be dropped and all medical bills would be covered; she had already made the decision to do so. My second immediate demand was that those directly involved be placed on leave. I learned that although she had requested this be done she has more limited authority than I thought over our police force. Finally, I asked that the police presence on or around the quad be diminished and if necessary I would have faculty patrol the quad to ensure the safety of our students. The members of Executive Council were prepared to be there themselves and to contact their committee members and faculties to back up this position. I had immediate responses from graduate and professional school students to also patrol the quad. The Chancellor assured me that this would not be necessary. Executive Council members periodically went by the encampment once it was reestablished to check on the wellbeing of the students. Executive Council met with the students of the Occupy movement on Wednesday, November 23rd to ask if they felt safe and if there was anything we could do to make them feel safer. They said they felt safe as long as the police were kept away.
Many of you have sent me emails about the man in the grey suit filming the crowd on November 18th with concerns about the intent of that filming. I have asked the Chancellor and she has told me that she does not know who that individual is nor why he was filming the crowd and appeared to be with the police. I will continue to press on this issue.
Second, during the tragedy on the quad we were holding an Executive Council meeting with the Chancellor. I had not been in the loop on decisions that were being made so I had as an agenda item a discussion of her intentions with respect to the Occupy movement and student demonstrations. We learned that she had already called for the tents to be removed and that this was happening as we were being told of her decision. There was no consultation with the Senate regarding this decision. She assured us at that time that although the police had been told to remove the tents as is apparently a UC policy, she had clearly instructed them to do it peacefully and without force unless physically threatened or attacked. Further the reasons for the order to remove the tents were health and safety related, due to poor sanitation practices. As a microbiologist, who teaches sanitation, I know this is indeed a problem. We registered our opposition to the use of excessive force probably just as it was happening. During the meeting, the Chancellor was seated next to me and I know she did not receive any communication from the field. She did get called to the hallway and came back and her report of what had happened was identical to the statement that she subsequently made to the press and that you all have heard and that turned out to be egregiously incorrect as evidenced by the videos released by the press. When I asked the Chancellor about this the next day, she said she had repeated what she had been told by her staff concerning the events of the quad, and it was not until later that she saw the videos released by the press herself. Some Executive Council members thought the clearing of the Occupy movement was timed deliberately during our meeting to prevent any meaningful consultation; others viewed it as simply unfortunate timing. As a consequence, the tenor of my conversations with the Chancellor has been quite different from that of the main campus and I will give a full report at the Representative Assembly meeting.
Third, I started investigating the culture and origin of our repressive policies. I received immediate assistance from the systemwide office of the Academic Senate in sourcing these policies. Bob Anderson called for an emergency teleconference meeting of Academic Council in which I participated. I believe our polices are historic, many a legacy of the incident involving the active shooter at Virginia Tech., and the sharp criticism in the press of campus police being “mall cops” at that time. I know changes were mandated by both state and local governments after that event. I personally do not think one should send inexperienced and untrained individuals against an active shooter. However, I also do not think one should send a SWAT team to issue citations for minor violations.
Executive Council has taken three actions: First, to issue our statement that many have thought was weak but that reflected a commitment to get the facts first. We called for an independent investigation into the events on the quad and I advised the Chancellor to abandon her plans for formation of a taskforce as it would likely not appear credible. Further, if an administrative task force was necessary I believed it should be formed by someone else. We continually emphasized the need for independence of the task force. The result of this request was the decision by the Office of the President to conduct the administrative inquiry. Second, we have formed our own Special Committee to examine the events leading up to the actions taken on the quad and also to review our policies, procedures, culture and climate to make strong recommendations for change. I have read the Brazil report issued by the Police Review Board of UCB in 2010 after an incident in 2009 and agree with most of their recommendations that obviously have not been adopted (http://administration.berkeley.edu/prb/6-14-10_prb-report.pdf). Our Special Committee may have different or additional recommendations of its own. I will do everything that I can to make sure our report is not ignored. Provost/Executive Vice President Pitts has assured me personally that policies will change. Third, I called for a special meeting of the Representative Assembly. I report directly to the Representative Assembly and will have more to say on Friday when we meet. Representative Assembly meetings are public and open to all faculty. The Chancellor will be there. We will hold the meeting in the Mondavi Center to allow for full attendance by the faculty. Executive Council intends to introduce a resolution at that meeting commending our students. I hope to have the text of that resolution finalized and out to all departments and their Representative Assembly members prior to the meeting on Friday.
I am continuing to look into the events of November 18th, and will issue periodic updates to the faculty. I have found many things that I would like to propose that we change, but ask for your continued patience as I am still uncovering new information.
Linda F. Bisson, Chair
Davis Division of the Academic Senate
Professor: Viticulture and Enology
I join President Yudof and Chancellor Katehi in condemning the use of pepper spray on students who were engaged in non-violent protest on November 18, 2011. This action was deplorable and unacceptable, and is not in line with our university’s Principles of Community or the academic freedoms that our campus holds dear.
For those directly affected, I offer my sympathy. I also wish to acknowledge that many others on campus have been hurt by this affair, even if they were not on the quad that day. It is important that all students, faculty and staff members feel safe and supported at UC Davis. Although this terrible event has shaken the sense of security that many have enjoyed, I want to reassure all that UC Davis is safe, owing to our shared determination that it be so. How can I be so confident? I was on the quad last Monday during the first rally, and I saw the campus stand together, peacefully, with determination. I am incredibly impressed by the courage and dignity shown by our students during and following the incident.
In addition, I am confident that the independent investigations currently under way will result in a better understanding of how we can ensure both campus safety and freedom of expression in the future. I endorse Chancellor Katehi’s request of President Yudof that an independent investigation be conducted from the Office of the President. I further welcome the separate investigations to be conducted by Academic Senate and others.
I am very pleased to witness the leadership shown in the Division of Social Sciences by departments who have expressed their opinions and concerns over the incident. The activities planned by the faculty and students to provide venues for scholarly discussion are laudable.
Severe reductions in state support of higher education and the resultant increases in tuition are some of the major concerns that protestors and non-protesters share. I do not know of anyone on campus, in the administration, the faculty, the staff or the student body, who is not deeply concerned about the future of California public higher education. One of the most passionate voices of concern has been that of our Chancellor herself.
Over the past two years, Chancellor Katehi has repeated in many settings, public and private, that our university must not decline. I have seen for myself the grim determination in her eyes to save public higher education for future generations. Perhaps because she is an alumna of the University of California; perhaps because she does not want to see the greatest university in the world falter; perhaps for other more personal reasons related to her experiences in her country of birth, Greece, and its troubles in higher education; perhaps for all of these reasons and more (I believe) the Chancellor is dedicated to this important effort.
Part of Chancellor Katehi’s plan has been explicit – focus on our students. She has repeatedly stated that the campus must renew its commitment to our students. I have heard her speak on many occasions in support of our students, their opportunities, and their liberties.
While there have been calls from many for the Chancellor to resign, given what I now know, I personally do not believe this is what is best for UC Davis. She has shown strong leadership over the past two years during the worst crisis in California’s higher education history. I believe she is the person we need to bring UC Davis through the ongoing economic crisis. I also believe she will help us all get through the present crisis by working with the campus, not separately from it.
I condemn the appalling actions taken by police against non-violent protestors on the quad. We must take the incident and learn from it. We must take actions that will ensure that such events can never again trouble this campus. We must carefully review administrative and police policies and question how our campus can become a model for safety, security and civil liberty.
I encourage everyone to make their opinions known, regardless of what those opinions may be. We are fortunate to have excellent role models to follow in this regard – the students of UC Davis.
George R. Mangun, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Neurology
Dean of Social Sciences
College of Letters and Science
Monday, November 28, 2011
The Occupy movement at UC Davis was initially about the connections between the privatization of the university and income inequality in society at large. The pepper spraying of students has shifted the discussion to police brutality, the policing of the Occupy movement, and who should take responsibility for the attack. The question that underlies these is: why isn’t the answer simple? Why doesn’t responsibility lie with the administrators who have the authority (and the paychecks) to run the university?
Read More Here
Your actions on Friday placed many students in danger. You casually sent in police in Riot gear despite the horrendous example of Berkeley one week ago, while doing nothing to ensure that students would not be harmed. Sadly and predictably, several non-violent student protesters were hurt as a result of your actions. The care and growth of our students is our most sacred trust, and you have violated that trust.
Worse still, your actions afterword suggest no real remorse or efforts to fix the problem, but rather flailing around, trying to find a P.R. spin that will not make you out to be a monster for hurting your students. Your first communique after the incident mentioned that pepper spray was used in the passive voice, as if it just went off by itself and no one was to blame. Now you are trying to blame campus non affiliates, saying that the interaction between students and non-affiliates is dangerous. I wonder if, by your logic, the city of Davis itself should descend into dangerous chaos, what with the members of the city of Davis and students interacting constantly. I am sick of your spin and words. I demand to see decisive, positive leadership. Failing that, I demand your immediate resignation.
I demand to see the following immediately:
1) Police on this campus do not need weapons. Many fine institutions: Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, etc. have amazing police forces that do not carry weapons. They have not descended into anarchy, on the contrary, police and students have better relations on these campuses, as students are less afraid of their police. I demand the removal of weapons from UCDavis police.
2) Protesters need to be supported and listened to by the administration, not met with police with riot gear. Sustained occupation of university property does happen on many campuses, and the university does not collapse. On the contrary, the university is made stronger.
3) The use of pain compliance techniques, like pepper spray on peaceful protesters, should be explicitly forbidden and a statement released condemning it. It absolutely should not be made possible by official UC Davis Police policy, like it is now.
4) Independent, external investigation separate from the University of California into the incident needs to occur.
Failing immediate action on these matters, please add my voice to those calling for your resignation.
Teach-In November 29, 6pm. Haring Hall 2205
Sponsored by Depts. History, Sociology, Economics
Louis Warren (History): "The Board of Regents, the University and the
Nick Perrone (History): "The Role of Unions"
Eric Rauchway (History): "Protests and Politics"
Clarence Walker (History): no topic yet
Tori Langland (History): No topic yet
Lorena Oropeza (History): Whose Diversity? Our Diversity!: Latinos and
the University of California
Sarah Agusto (Sociology): "the UC student movement meets the OWS movement"
John Hall (Sociology): "Unmaking the Public University"
Ann Stevens (Economics): "Rising Inequality in the US: The Story of Your Lives"
Rob Feenstra (Economics): "Financing the University: Where Has Tuition Gone?"
Dear President Yudof,
The Council of University of California Faculty Associations (CUCFA) protests your decision to hire the Kroll Security Group, and its Chairman William Bratton, to conduct what you call an independent investigation of police violence at UC Davis. We take no position here on Mr. Bratton's personal qualifications; our objection is to the conflicts of interest of Kroll Security itself, which is already a major contractor with UC on security matters. According to its website, Kroll's services are not confined to securing databases and facilities from attacks by criminals and terrorists. It also protects many global financial institutions and other multinationals against threats to "operations" that may come from public criticism and direct political action.
By deepening UC's links to Kroll, you would be illustrating the kinds of connection between public higher education and Wall Street that the Occupy UC movement is protesting. Kroll's parent company, Altegrity, provides data-mining, intelligence and on-the-ground security to financial institutions and governments seeking to head off and defeat both private sabotage and public protest. In addition, Altegrity's parent company, Providence Private Equity, is a major global investor in for-profit higher education companies that benefit from the decline of publicly funded higher education.
We already know that Kroll has provided security services to at least three UC campuses for the past several years. This in itself would disqualify Mr. Bratton from participating in the investigation you propose, even if the role of Kroll and its affiliated companies in defending the financial sector against OWS did not raise further questions about its pro-Wall Street and pro-privatization bias.
A truly independent investigation that would allow UC to provide a credible response to the events at Davis (and the other campuses) needs to address several questions that would not be seriously considered if you hire Kroll.
* What was your role and that of UC General Counsel in the events at Davis? Did you, as a distinguished first amendment scholar, tell chancellors and campus police chiefs that protests (especially protests against UC's own policies) are "part of the DNA of this University" that should not be addressed using the same techniques that UC has developed (likely with the help of Kroll) to deal with terrorists, shooters, and cyber-saboteurs? (Even if you have been a zealous defender of the rising student movement to restore public higher education, such a conclusion would not be credible coming from an investigation tainted by Kroll's conflicts of interest outlined above.)
* What was and is the role of Kroll in helping banks and public institutions (including UC) investigate and defeat movements such as OWS and their campus counterparts? Is Kroll now acting as a liaison between universities, city governments and the Department of Homeland Security in defending the financial sector against protests occurring on what used to be considered public spaces? Are protests against Wall Street in such spaces now considered a threat to the security of the nation, the city and the public university? (The growing securitization of public space has been a major obstacle to first amendment activity since 9-11.)
* How much money has UC and its individual campuses paid to Kroll for security services? Were these contracts issued as sole source contracts or was there open bidding? Were Kroll's services confined to protecting, for example, the privacy and integrity of data systems and faculty and staff conducting animal research or did they extended to what Kroll's website calls "organizational threats" arising from "the dynamic and sometimes conflicting needs of the entire campus population"? (This could be a description of the student protests that you rightly regard as "central to our history" as a university.)
* What led to the issuance of false and misleading statements by University of California officials (Chancellors and their assistants, spokespeople, and police chiefs) in the aftermath of police violence at Berkeley and Davis? Did you encourage these efforts at spin control? (Dishonest statements seriously damage the university as an institution devoted to truth and protect only the individuals whose decisions are in question.)
The broader issue is how protest can be part of what you characterized as "our university's DNA" when the right to protest is not formally recognized within the university's own codes of student and faculty conduct. It could be and should be. The CSU student code states explicitly that "[n]othing in this Code may conflict with Education Code Section 66301 that prohibits disciplinary action against students based on behavior protected by the first amendment." If such language were included in the UC code of conduct, students would have a clear first amendment defense against disciplinary action arising from peaceful political protest-and there would be strong grounds for questioning the legality of a police order to disperse a peaceful protest from a public site on a public university campus. The explicit incorporation of constitutional limits on UC's power to break up
demonstrations that threaten its march toward privatization would go a long way toward recovering UC as a public, rather than a private, space. We urge you to see that the UC codes of conduct are amended to parallel those in place at CSU.
Events at Davis and the other campuses have shown the University of California in a negative light, and we agree strongly with the need for an independent investigation. We believe, however, that your appointment of Kroll to investigate the university's response to last week's protest could itself become a basis for new protests, and that you should ask Speaker Pérez (or someone unaffiliated with the University) to appoint a genuinely independent committee with representatives from student, faculty, staff and civil liberties groups. Such a committee should be given a specific charge to investigate and report on all of the questions set forth above.
President, Council of UC Faculty Associations
Professor History of Consciousness and Political and Social Thought, UC Santa Cruz
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The faculty of the Women and Gender Studies program are writing to express our deep concern regarding the unjustifiable use of gratuitous force against UC Davis students on November 18, 2011. The administration has attempted to defend its actions by characterizing them as measures taken to protect the health and safety of Davis students. We do not see how pepper spraying students demonstrates concern for their well-being.
The campus community has been asked to accept disproportionate police action in the name of safety. To encourage the acceptance of that logic, the administration raises the specter of criminalized outsiders and mentions the risk of university “liability.” We do not accept the logic that outsiders, sitting on the ground, with their arms linked to our students, are more dangerous than the persons pointing weapons at them. In fact, sitting with linked arms has a long tradition in the Black Civil Rights and pacifist movements in this country and is understood as a non-violent means of exercising free speech rights. Furthermore we reject the implicit gendered logic of vulnerability that suggests that in order to protect vulnerable women from outsiders we must stifle protest.
Witnesses present on Friday afternoon report that most if not all of the tents were removed before the police closed in upon the students. Regardless, the issue of the presence of tents is a specious one. Despite the administration’s calls for tolerance and dialogue, it has shown that it will not tolerate peaceful protest. At UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau described arm-linking as "not nonviolent." Such a claim is preposterous and merely represents an attempt to find provocation where none is present. The students who were pepper-sprayed were linking arms and sitting on the ground. As the video of Friday’s events spreads across the Internet, it is clear to all who view it that it was not the students, but rather the police who were violent. We are deeply concerned by the militarized police violence that academic administration used to exercise its control and discipline over Davis students expressing concerns over rising debts and UC tuition, the stress on their families, and the privatization of a public land grant institution. Moreover, the video clearly discredits the police chief’s account of what transpired.
For those of us old enough to remember, Friday’s events brought back images of Kent State. We reject arguments that justify violence in the name of security. We oppose the stifling of free speech done in the name of maintaining community. We reaffirm the right of students to assemble, to link arms, and to fight for public education. The video of an officer, systematically pepper-spraying passive students, has circulated nationally and discredits our university. We can be very proud, however, of the students who bravely and peacefully held their ground. We are writing to show our support of those students. We share their love of this university and their belief that public education and social-economic justice are worth fighting for.
In times of conflict, the administration often invokes the Principles of Community but does not appear to be able to translate these principles into actions that bring a diverse community together. Those Principles were fundamentally violated on Friday. We ask for clear accountability. We want to know how and why the decision was made to call in police from other jurisdictions. We want to know whose decision it was to have the police appear in riot gear. We want to know who sanctioned the use of pepper spray. Finally, we want to know what specific measures will be put into place to ensure that such violence never again occurs on our campus.
We call for an immediate and thorough investigation by an Academic Senate-appointed committee, to be completed by the end of fall quarter, of the events leading to the use of force on Friday and request that those found culpable be disciplined. We call upon the Chancellor to drop any pending charges against the students who were taken into custody, and to take immediate actions to foster a meaningful dialogue regarding next steps. We do not believe that the campus can wait 90 days for a task force report.
Dear Chancellor Katehi,
I imagine you’re feeling burned right now. You trusted the wrong people, and find yourself in a completely untenable position.
You know perfectly well that what the police did to peaceful protesters was beyond reason. There’s really no disputing that. The right to peaceable assembly is well-enshrined in American law, and for good reason. The videos speak for themselves.
Your people overshot. But you know that.
I’m not writing you to educate you about free speech or police brutality. I assume you’re smart enough to understand both, and to see clearly that the University was badly on the wrong side here.
I’m writing as a fellow higher ed administrator. Like you, I’ve been on the receiving end of smug tirades by people who don’t have to balance competing goods. It’s frustrating. And I’ve also had to deal with the fallout when people who report to me make decisions I wish they hadn’t. It happens.
Now you’re in that awful position where the protesters are right. It’s hard to swallow, but it’s true.
At this point, as I see it, you have exactly two ways to play this. You can resign, or you can jump out in front of the issue. The one thing you absolutely cannot do is be careful.
Resignation is obvious, and your hand may be forced, so I’ll leave it at that. The second option is admittedly risky, but with the egregiousness of the police conduct and the international attention being paid, the usual “let’s appoint a committee to look into it” won’t work.
The ground has shifted from under you. You cannot defend the police. You just can’t.
If you’re up to it, though, you can try to defend the purpose of the university. You can’t dodge this, but you may be able to lead your way out.
The way to do that would involve, first of all, admitting fault. You’ll have to eat a fair bit of crow, both privately and publicly. Then you have to admit that this has been a wake-up call.
The point of the university is the pursuit of truth through the open exchange of ideas. You need to admit -- even better, assert -- that the conduct of the police was directly antithetical to the purpose of the university. You need to prosecute the police involved, and replace the chief. You need to establish some sort of community board to monitor the police. The campus police will hate you for that, but it has to be done.
Then you need to take active steps to make UC-Davis a civil community in the fullest sense of ‘civil.’ That doesn’t mean ‘polite’ or ‘quiescent.’ It means a setting in which vigorous debate is actually possible -- and sometimes even encouraged -- with the shared understanding that we separate the speaker from the speech. I’d start by personally engaging the Occupy protesters on campus, and then by inviting speakers from all over to debate each other in public, both formally and informally. You need to attend those debates personally.
This can’t be delegated. You can’t ask your associate dean of whatever to handle it. As the chancellor, you have to get out there yourself. And you have to steel yourself emotionally for the vituperation that will come your way. You can’t take the bait.
Like it or not, the only way around this is through it. You have to own this, personally and publicly. You have to get out there yourself, take the risk of public humiliation, and change the way the university treats the people who get on its nerves.
If that’s too tall an order, just resign. But make up your mind quickly. Twisting in the wind will do untold damage to everything the university stands for.
Good luck. I’m glad I’m not you right now.
We write in response to your email message of Friday November 18th 2011. We appreciate yourresponsibility to ensure a safe environment for all members of our campus community. However, in our view, non-violent student action is not a threat to campus safety, whereas police brutality is.
We strongly condemn the use of pepper spray and batons against peaceful protest. Taxpayers, whether they are students, staff, faculty or members of other communities have the right to assemble and protest peacefully without being subjected to the use of pre-emptive violence. Police must not use violence when they are ordered to arrest peaceful protesters who break the law for refusing to leave segregated lunch counters, change seats on buses, or leave public spaces when ordered to do so.
The economic, social, and psychological costs of police aggression and the damage to our reputation as an institution of higher learning far outweigh the costs the protest itself incurred. Following the Principles of Community that you have espoused, we ask that anyone who ordered or approved the use of force against peaceful protesters take responsibility and be held accountable. We also ask that you apologize to the students and the university community and express profound regret for the decisions you made in responding to the protest. This would bethe most productive way to begin healing our campus.
With a heavy heart and substantial deliberation, we the undersigned faculty ofthe UC Davis physics department send you this letter expressing our lack ofconfidence in your leadership and calling for your prompt resignation in the wake of the outrageous, unnecessary, and brutal pepper spraying episode on campus Friday, Nov. 18.
The reasons for this are as follows.
• The demonstrations were nonviolent, and the student encampments posed no threat to the university community. The outcomes of sending in police in Oakland, Berkeley, New York City, Portland, and Seattle should have led you to exhaust all other options before resorting to police action.
• Authorizing force after a single day of encampments constitutes a gross violation of the UC Davis principles of community, especially the commitment to civility: “We affirm the right of freedom of expression withinour community and affirm our commitment to the highest standards ofcivility and decency towards all.”
• Your response in the aftermath of these incidents has failed to restore trust in your leadership in the university community.
We have appreciated your leadership during these difficult times on working to maintain and enhance excellence at UC Davis. UC Davis and caused the faculty, students, parents, and alumni of UC Davis to lose confidence in your leadership. At this point we feel that the best thing that you can do for this university is to take full responsibility and resign immediately. Our campus community deserves a fresh start.