The following are a selection of letters written in response to the use of pepper spray on protesters on November 18.
Chancellor Linda Katehi's Response
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2011 21:00:50 -0800 (PST)
From: Chancellor Katehi <email@example.com>
To: UC Davis Community <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Message from the Chancellor about today's events on campus
November 18, 2011
To UC Davis Campus Community,
I am writing to tell you about events that occurred Friday afternoon at UC Davis relating to a group of protestors who chose to set up an encampment on the quad Thursday as part of a week of peaceful demonstrations on our campus that coincided with many other occupy movements at universities throughout the country.
The group did not respond to requests from administration and campus police to comply with campus rules that exist to protect the health and safety of our campus community. The group was informed in writing this morning that the encampment violated regulations designed to protect the health and safety of students, staff and faculty. The group was further informed that if they did not dismantle the encampment, it would have to be removed.
Following our requests, several of the group chose to dismantle their tents this afternoon and we are grateful for their actions. However a number of protestors refused our warning, offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal. We are saddened to report that during this activity, 10 protestors were arrested and pepper spray was used. We will be reviewing the details of the incident.
We appreciate and strongly defend the rights of all our students, faculty and staff to robust and respectful dialogue as a fundamental tenet of our great academic institution. At the same time, we have a responsibility to our entire campus community, including the parents who have entrusted their students to us, to ensure that all can live, learn and work in a safe and secure environment. We were aware that some of those involved in the recent demonstrations on campus were not members of the UC Davis community and this required us to be even more vigilant about the safety of our students, faculty and staff. We take this responsibility very seriously.
While we have appreciated the peaceful and respectful tone of the demonstrations during the week, the encampment raised serious health and safety concerns, and the resources required to supervise this encampment could not be sustained, especially in these very tight economic times when our resources must support our core academic mission.
We deeply regret that many of the protestors today chose not to work with our campus staff and police to remove the encampment as requested. We are even more saddened by the events that subsequently transpired to facilitate their removal.
We appreciate the substantive dialogue the students have begun here on campus as part of this week’s activities, and we want to offer appropriate opportunities to express opinions, advance the discussion and suggest solutions as part of the time-honored university tradition. We invite our entire campus community to consider the topics related to the occupy movement you would like to discuss and we pledge to work with you to develop a series of discussion forums throughout our campus.
I ask all members of the campus community for their support in ensuring a safe environment for all members of our campus community. We hope you will actively support us in accomplishing this objective.
Linda P.B. Katehi
Commentary on Chancellor Katehi's Initial Letter
Politically correct lip service from a career administrator! At least I felt like Larry actually cared Daubert
Response to the letter by CovertProfessor:
"However a number of protestors refused our warning, offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal." — Witness accounts say that the tents were already down when the spraying occurred.
"We are saddened to report that during this activity [removing the tents], 10 protestors were arrested and pepper spray was used." — The people who were sprayed were sitting on the ground, not moving, and they were threatening no one
"We will be reviewing the details of the incident." — Is the Chancellor saying that she did not order this incident? Is this a Quan-like maneuver to try to shift the blame?
"At the same time, we have a responsibility to our entire campus community, including the parents who have entrusted their students to us, to ensure that all can live, learn and work in a safe and secure environment." — Does the Chancellor think that parents are happy to hear that their peacefully protesting students were pepper sprayed?
"We were aware that some of those involved in the recent demonstrations on campus were not members of the UC Davis community and this required us to be even more vigilant about the safety of our students, faculty and staff." — Ah, invoking the old "it's the outsiders" fear. Another inadequate, irrelevant excuse for violence on a peaceful protest.
"While we have appreciated the peaceful and respectful tone of the demonstrations during the week, the encampment raised serious health and safety concerns" — Really? For an encampment only a few days old? That seems highly unlikely.
"the resources required to supervise this encampment could not be sustained, especially in these very tight economic times when our resources must support our core academic mission." — So, allowing for expression of ideas is not part of our core academic mission?
"We are even more saddened by the events that subsequently transpired to facilitate their removal." — The Chancellor makes this sound as though it was an unavoidable accident, rather than a deliberate act of violence by the police.
Follow up letter
Posted to UCDavis.edu Saturday afternoon, November 19, 2011
Chancellor creates task force to review Friday's incident
Dear Member of the UC Davis Community:
Yesterday was not a day that would make anyone on our campus proud; indeed the events of the day need to guide us forward as we try to make our campus a better place of inquiry, debate, and even dissent. As I described in my previous letter to the community, this past week our campus was a site of week-long peaceful demonstrations during which students were able to express their concerns about many issues facing higher education, the University of California, our campus, our nation, and the world as a whole. Those events involved multiple rallies in the Quad and an occupation of Mrak Hall which ended peacefully a day later.
However, the events on Friday were a major deviation from that trend. In the aftermath of the troubling events we experienced, I will attempt to provide a summary of the incident with the information now available to me.
After a week of peaceful exchange and debate, on Thursday a group of protestors including UC Davis students and other non-UC Davis affiliated individuals established an encampment of about 25 tents on the Quad. The group was reminded that while the university provides an environment for students to participate in rallies and express their concerns and frustrations through different forums, university policy does not allow such encampments on university grounds.
On Thursday, the group stayed overnight despite repeated reminders by university staff that their encampment violated university policies and they were requested to disperse. On Friday morning, the protestors were provided with a letter explaining university policies and reminding them of the opportunities the university provides for expression. Driven by our concern for the safety and health of the students involved in the protest, as well as other students on our campus, I made the decision not to allow encampments on the Quad during the weekend, when the general campus facilities are locked and the university staff is not widely available to provide support.
During the early afternoon hours and because of the request to take down the tents, many students decided to dismantle their tents, a decision for which we are very thankful. However, a group of students and non-campus affiliates decided to stay. The university police then came to dismantle the encampment. The events of this intervention have been videotaped and widely distributed. As indicated in various videos, the police used pepper spray against the students who were blocking the way. The use of pepper spray as shown on the video is chilling to us all and raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this.
To this effect, I am forming a task force made of faculty, students and staff to review the events and provide to me a thorough report within 90 days. As part of this, a process will be designed that allows members of the community to express their views on this matter. This report will help inform our policies and processes within the university administration and the Police Department to help us avoid similar outcomes in the future. While the university is trying to ensure the safety and health of all members of our community, we must ensure our strategies to gain compliance are fair and reasonable and do not lead to mistreatment.
Furthermore, I am asking the office of Administrative and Resource Management and the office of Student Affairs to review our policies in relation to encampments of this nature and consider whether our existing policies reflect the needs of the students at this point in time. If our policies do not allow our students enough flexibility to express themselves, then we need to find a way to improve these policies and make them more effective and appropriate.
Our campus is committed to providing a safe environment for all to learn freely and practice their civil rights of freedom of speech and expression. At the same time, our campus has the responsibility to ensure the safety of all others who use the same spaces and rely on the same facilities, tools, environments and processes to practice their freedoms to work and study. While the university has the responsibility to develop the appropriate environments that ensure the practice of these freedoms, by no means should we allow a repeated violation of these rules as an expression of personal freedom.
Through this letter, I express my sadness for the events of past Friday and my commitment to redouble our efforts to improve our campus and the environment for our students.
Linda P.B. Katehi
Expressing a vague discomfort and regret that the spraying happened isn't enough, although it's a step in the right direction. The Chancellor needs to take responsibility for having condoned the spraying in her first letter, condemn the spraying unambiguously, and state unambiguously that the use of violent measures such as pepper spray, tear gas, or batons on nonviolent protestors won't be tolerated by the University in the future. - KenjiYamada
A task force? 90 days? How about an immediate investigation into the illegal pepper-spraying of protesters who were sitting on the ground? —CovertProfessor
Letter to Students' Parents
November 21, 2011
Dear UC Davis Parents,
As you know from previous communications, the last few days have been very trying for the UC Davis family. As a parent myself, I am deeply saddened by what occurred, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident and pledge to take the necessary actions to ensure this does not occur again on our campus. As parents of UC Davis students I wanted to reach out to you and offer an update on our plans for the near future.
My goal going forward is to restore civil discourse to the campus. To this effect, today I have requested President Yudof and he has agreed to initiate the creation of a task force comprised of faculty, students and staff to conduct a review of the events and provide to me a thorough report and recommendations within 30 days. I eagerly await the results of the review and intend to act quickly to implement reforms that will safeguard the rights of our students, faculty and staff to engage in nonviolent protest. The UC Davis police chief and the two police officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave pending this investigation.
In addition, I have already begun to meet with students. Earlier today I met with students in the Quad and publicly apologized for the incident and told them that I will work hard to re-earn their trust. I am committed to this and will continue to meet with groups of students, faculty and staff in the coming weeks to listen to their concerns and hear their ideas.
Our campus is committed to providing a safe environment for all to learn freely and practice their civil rights of freedom of speech and expression. At the same time, our campus has the responsibility to ensure the safety of all others who use the same spaces and rely on the same facilities, tools, environments and processes to practice their freedoms to work and study. I feel sorry for the harm our students were subjected to and for the negative impact this has had on the university's reputation. I vow to work tirelessly to make the campus a more welcoming and safe place for all students.
Linda P.B. Katehi
Response of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate
Letter from the Executive Council
From: Academic Senate Chair <email@example.com>
To: "'firstname.lastname@example.org'" <email@example.com>
Subject: A Statement from the Davis Division Executive Council
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2011 18:39:57
The Executive Council of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate issues the following statement:
"The Executive Council, on behalf of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate, strongly supports the right of all campus citizens to assemble and protest peacefully. It is totally unacceptable to use excessive force against peaceful protesters. The UC Davis administration must assume full accountability for the actions taken on Friday, November 18, 2011. We must assure a campus environment that welcomes diverse perspectives and fosters freedom of expression. We are in full support of an investigation into recent events and a public accounting of all findings."
The Executive Council also approved the formation of a Special Committee to investigate in a thorough and timely manner the events leading to the use of force on Friday, November 18, 2011. Finally, I am also calling a Special Meeting of the Representative Assembly.
Linda F. Bisson,
Chair, Davis Division of the Academic Senate
Professor, Department of Viticulture and Enology
University of California, Davis
Statement from the Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility
E-mailed to Academic Senate members on 26 November 2011
"The UC Davis Academic Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility (CAFR) condemns violence as well as directives and policies that are likely to lead to it. The role of a university in society is to serve as a beacon of compassion and tolerance to foster thoughtful discourse. Academic freedom is the pilot light protecting knowledge production and should protect all members of the university engaged in civil discourse without fear or threat of coercive retaliation or physical harm. In light of an emerging pattern of policies and behaviors counter to these principles, we call on all University of California administrators to undergo training in the importance of academic freedom and how to protect and foster it against financial, political, and social pressures. We also plan to review recent events in order to assess to what degree academic freedom rights were violated and to make policy recommendations to safeguard academic freedom at University of California campuses. - unanimously agreed by CAFR members"
28 November 2011 Letter from the Senate Chair
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>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.
Original Signature on File
Linda F. Bisson, Chair
Davis Division of the Academic Senate
Professor: Viticulture and Enology
Graduate Student Association (GSA) related letters
Letter from outgoing GSA Chair, Brian Riley
OPEN LETTER, November 23, 2011, 3:50 pm Pacific Time
As the outgoing (2010-2011) UC Davis Graduate Student Association Chair, current ex-officio member of the GSA Executive Council, and protest organizer/participant/witness of the events of last Friday, November 18, 2011, I have decided, after much deliberation and weighing of facts, that I can no longer support our current Chancellor, Linda Katehi, and call on her, for the good of the University and indeed for the good of society, to resign.
(from Facebook - Occupy UC Davis)
GSA Clarification Regarding Brian Riley's letter on Nov 23, 2011
The UC Davis Graduate Student Association recognizes the views of its former Chair, Brian Riley, and appreciates his comments on the current situation. We wish to clarify that Brian’s comments reflect his own views, not those of the GSA. As yet, the UCD GSA has taken no official position on the status of Chancellor Katehi, nor has the GSA or any of its current officers called for her resignation. We will be discussing this issue and our membership will decide on the GSA’s official position, by vote, at our Nov 30th General Assembly meeting. We encourage all graduate students to share their views with their GSA representatives so that any decision we arrive at represents the collective will of UC Davis graduate students.
The GSA Executive Committee has issued a statement regarding the events of Nov 18th (which can be viewed at http://gsa.ucdavis.edu/). Again, we wish to specify that this statement reflects the views of the GSA officers and is not an official GSA position, until it is approved by a vote of the GSA General Assembly.