Katehi holds open forum to answer students’ questions

As Tuesday came to a close, protesters continued to occupy the UC Davis Quad. Student EMTs worked to organize a schedule for the medical tent. Others tried to decide what to do with their tents over Thanksgiving break. Students not involved in the protest took time out of their day to ask protesters about the movement.

Some protesters said Tuesday that despite the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, many students are planning on continuing to occupy over the break. It is not very clear what will happen between Wednesday and Sunday, but one thing is for sure — there will be a holiday dinner.

Tuesday morning began with a  General Assembly (GA) at the Occupy encampment. Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, who visited the Quad earlier in the morning to talk to student protesters, returned for the GA but left after students told her she could not speak at that time, as it would be a breach of GA rules.

The chancellor got her chance to speak, however, last night in Freeborn Hall.

Katehi held an open forum for student dialogue, where students were encouraged to ask questions and express their feelings about the recent pepper spraying incident.  An estimated 1,134 people attended the meeting.

Katehi was joined on stage by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Fred Wood, UC Davis Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter and the interim UC Davis Police Chief Matt Carmichael. Annette Spicuzza, the police chief involved in Friday’s events,  is on administrative leave and was not a part of the panel.

After an opening speech, in which Katehi apologized for the pepper spray incident, students from the audience asked the panel questions.

Many members of the audience shouted in anger throughout the evening.

“One thing that I have learned is that I need to spend more time with the students,” Katehi said.

Katehi spoke with passion about the 1973 protests in Greece, which took place while she was a student.

“I truly understand the frustration and the anger students are feeling right now,” Katehi said.

She announced that the university would be covering the medical bills of those who were pepper sprayed and she would be asking that the charges against the students who were arrested be dropped.

Wood, who attended UC Davis as an undergraduate, also made an opening speech.

“I’ve been proud of our students throughout all of this. I hope together we collectively work with integrity and understanding,” Wood said.

The first half of the meeting was live streamed on the internet and many news stations filmed segments of the event. However, for the second hour of the meeting, filming and photography was prohibited in order to provide privacy to students.

During the forum, Katehi said that UC Davis Police do not directly report to her, they report back to Vice Chancellor of Administrative and Resource Management, John Meyer.

Meyer explained the thinking behind calling in riot police, and stated that concerns about what happened at UC Berkeley earlier this month played into the decisions that were made. He said he regretted what happened on Friday.

“Do I feel terrible about it? Absolutely,” Meyer said.

Meyer joined the panel  at 6:15 p.m., after students said they would like to see him on stage.

Carmichael said that he is interested in working with the students to better the relationship between the campus police and the students.

Audience members also brought up the relationship between racial issues and campus police, specifically citing a recent hate crime that took place on campus.

In response to many questions asked of the panel, the term “moving forward” was repeated multiple times. Talk of reassessing and changing current university and UC policies was prevalent.

The panel spoke of the five committees that have been assigned to look into the pepper spray incident. UC President Mark Yudof announced Tuesday that former LAPD Chief William Bratton will be leading the UC investigation.

“The truth is going to come out in the end, and all of this will come out publicly,” Katehi said.

In reaction to the events on Friday and the chancellor’s response, many groups on campus have called for Katehi’s resignation.

The UC Davis English department, specifically assistant English professor Nathan Brown, has asked Katehi to resign. The call for resignation has been placed on the English department’s official website.

The UC Davis physics department has also called for Katehi’s resignation, and has issued a press release which includes an open letter to UC Davis students, commending their actions on Friday.

By Tuesday evening, more than 85,000 people had signed a petition calling for Katehi’s resignation.

UC Davis alumni have also requested documents pertaining to the pepper spray incident. Along with many other groups on campus, they are calling for an investigation of the incident.

The ASUCD Senate passed a resolution in an emergency meeting on Monday night, condemning the use of pepper spray on students. In an ASUCD press conference held Tuesday, ASUCD President Adam Thongsavat spoke about the pepper spray incident, and announced a new student campaign regarding campus police.

“I would like to announce a new student campaign, called Students Together, that will ask that every private and public university in the United States review their campus police policies for non-violent protests, so that what occurred on Friday will never happen again,” Thongsavat said.

Members of various Occupy Movements, including Occupy Sacramento, have also expressed their support for the students who were pepper sprayed on Friday.

Throughout the forum, Katehi was questioned about the widespread public outcry that has led to calls for her resignation. When asked about the petition for her resignation, Katehi responded, “I acknowledge the petition.”

Katehi confirmed she will not be resigning.

STEPHANIE B. NGUYEN contributed to this article. HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

11 Comments

  • andrew_clancy
    November 23, 2011

    Hey all – I’m a recent UCB grad and in light of everything that’s happened at UCD this past week I wanted to share this post with you from Berkeley’s Daily Cal newspaper. It’s an online response to a guy named Brad who posted a comment that was favorable toward our Chancellor and campus police. I don’t know if it’s the best place to post this but I’m not familiar with your newspaper and it seemed like the best bet.
    - all the best, and I’m beyond proud of you guys. I hope that comes across in the post.
    ——————————————-

    Brad,

    Let me start by saying that I assume you are UCPD. If not, insert “UCPD” for “you” where appropriate. This is also for any UC campus police officer, so please feel free to pass it along to any you may know. It is also for Chancellor Birgeneau, and if the claim that you are his bitch is true, please pass it to him too. As I think about it, I’m going to ruthlessly use you as a metaphor – perhaps an allegory – for all those responsible for police brutality on campus, so do whatever the hell you like.

    So “Brad”, there is a movement to remove police from all UC campuses. Do you know why?

    It’s OK…I’ll give you more time to think…

    Yes! That’s exactly right. It’s because you fucked up and beat the shit out of peacefully protesting students and faculty. You know what else, Brad? You beat the shit out of them not 10 feet from the spot your employer claims to be “the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement”…not 10 feet from where the UC Berkeley student – who UC Berkeley credits as having started that movement with a famous speech – gave that famous speech…and not 10 feet from the plaque that UC Berkeley dedicated as a memorial to that former UC Berkeley student and the movement he started. Do you see the irony in this, Brad?

    In case you didn’t know, UC Berkeley benefits substantially from a unique, internationally recognized brand that consists of (1) academic excellence, and (2) a tradition of protecting the rights of all students – most famously free speech – which began with student protests in the 1960′s. Did you ever stop to think you were fucking with that? If so, how long did you think you’d get away with it? Did supervisors and managers and administrators and directors and presidents say and do things that led you to believe you’d get away with it? If so, could you have possibly thought you would be strong enough to avoid being the very first fall-guy when the shit – as it always does – hit the fan?

    I know…in this post-9/11 world where campus police were issued really neat Hotwheel vehicles with mat-black powder-coated mag wheels and mat-black tuned dual exhaust and bitchin mat-black I-could-cut-through-a-semi-truck bumpers and GI Joe riot gear that includes m16′s and military-grade pepper spray and body armor and the direction to be on the alert in case the campus were overrun by Al Qaida, things got out of control. I get how that can happen.

    But that’s over now, thanks to you beating students and beating a poet laureate of the United States and beating professors and pepper spraying students and yanking a professor by the hair and throwing her to the ground after she acknowledged her “lawlessness” and expressed her intent to resist peacefully by holding out her hands and saying “I will not move so please arrest me”.

    I have seen you do these things with my own eyes, Brad. I have also seen the picture of you drawing your gun on students who wanted to enter a meeting and I have seen you walk behind students posting photo copies of that officer with his gun drawn on students and tear down each copy of that photo as fast as the students put them up. I have seen video of you threatening to detain a teenage girl for writing things you did not like on the ground in chalk at Sather Gate and then cancel your planned detention of that teenage girl only when confronted with video cameras and curious students chanting “let her go”, and her yelling “am I free to go?” at the top of her lungs. Undoubtedly – and according to reports that come out daily these days – there is much that I do not see. As angry as I am, perhaps it is good that I don’t see everything that you have done, but those things are coming to light.

    Welcome to the real world, Brad, where people have a reasonable expectation that civil disobedience and peaceful protest will not result in injury – let alone injury at the hands of police who are bound by duty to protect them – where violence and brutality against peaceful citizens is against the law…and where social change is facilitated by a process that whether you are too dim to understand or not was perfected by a young UC Berkeley student in 1964 on the campus of UC Berkeley not 10 feet from where you beat the shit out of students and faculty for peacefully pursuing social change.

    Brad, I’m not imaginative enough to envision how your brutalization of peaceful protesters would end, what would facilitate that end, or where it would occur, so imagine my surprise when I saw the video of UC Davis students sitting passively as they were shot in the face with military-grade pepper spray, and another video where they sat stone-cold silent in the night as their chancellor walked what apparently is a hell of a long distance to her car. Shit, meet fan. At this moment I realize that both you and I have something in common, and that is that these videos are among the most chilling we’ve ever seen: chilling for me because seeing UC students perfectly execute peaceful protests in the face of what I’m sure were intense emotions made me as proud as I have ever been to be a UC graduate, and chilling for you because they mark the end of an era (in student years) of student marginalization on campus, which has direct consequences for your behavior, your future employment, and for the very definition of what it means to be a police officer.

    Brad, I hope you take what I say to heart. If you wanted a job as a bad ass cop “busting heads”, as an ex girlfriend’s police officer father used to say, what the hell were you thinking when you accepted a job at UC Berkeley? It’s hard for me to imagine that you took the job because you value education and all the processes young people go through as they learn new things and develop new opinions and see new injustices and speak out against them because they want this world to be a better place for themselves, their friends, their family, and yes, even for you Brad. So why did you take the job? What circumstances leads officers to choose employment on a university campus like UC Berkeley where 75% of students study on weekends, 25% of the student body drinks, and students deal with stress by chatting with friends or adding an extra teaspoon of sugar to their cereal or baking cookies or studying some more?

    I get the feeling UC Berkeley students, with the help of lawyers and parents and professors and legislators and alumni are about to do some head busting of their own, and since we still live in a civilized society I suspect you will have a really hard time understanding how it all came to this. I think you won’t understand why the students who took your shit as well as those who help them right your wrongs are the true bad asses in this story. And that’s where this letter comes in. Remember it, Brad, and please, pass it along.

  • geff_curtis
    November 23, 2011

    katehi wants to drop the charges against the protesters who disobey a lawful order to leave. are you kidding me? these occupy protesters have no respect for the law or government authority. as an alumni i am embarrassed at the actions of these students. what the police did was wrong, but these students were also wrong and they need to learn that there are consequences to their actions.

    • J Woodward
      November 23, 2011

      Geff, you truly are an ingoramous if the student’s actions embarrass you/ I bet you’re just a troll, right? If for example you are so fixated on respect for the law, where is your outrage concerning the mass fraud perpetrated by America’s biggest banks, resulting in your net wroth droppping by at least 50% (assuming you had net worth), with zero convictions of the perps? But again you’re just trolling so I am the fool for taking the bait.

  • annabelle_pfau
    November 23, 2011

    I think this is a sexist witch hunt on one of the few women in leadership positions in academics. http://www.thenewagenda.net/2011/11/23/in-support-of-chancellor-katehi/

    The reasons are spelled out specifically in the article. Where is the campaign to oust Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau of UC Berkeley? Telling, I think.

    • iris_pedowitz
      November 23, 2011

      agreed! she has a really phenomenal story as far as female leaders are concerned.

    • lauren_platt
      November 23, 2011

      She was the one who authorised this. It’s got nothing do with her gender; nor does the fact that she’s one of the few women to hold her position justify or excuse what she allowed to happen.

  • jeff_adams
    November 23, 2011

    Lt. Pike probably has a base salary of $110,000 per year. However the lavish benefits afforded to campus police-person with a very aggressive union will add at least 50% more to their salary cost. (That is, Mr. Pike really earns in excess of $165,000 per year — which is disgusting!) And his package includes a full pension and a full medical program after he retires. For that kind on money UC Davis apparently got a jack-booted thug who certainly does not care about the rights of the students he has been hired to protect. As for President Katehi — this ugly oversight happened on her watch. Ms. Katehi knew these demonstrations were coming and she pointedly failed to set up proper controls over the police department that reports to her. Ms. Katehi should be fired immediately. For the lavish salary and benefits that Ms. Katehi is paid UC Davis deserves a skilled educator who really cares about students. Not some grasping “higher education” executive on-the-make whose driving goal is to secure an even more powerful and lucrative position somewhere else.

    • lauren_platt
      November 23, 2011

      His salary is entirely irrelevant. The issue here is his actions, and why they were authorised. He should lose his job, as should anyone responsible for what he did.

  • taylor_hines
    November 23, 2011

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/mark-ames-how-uc-davis-chancellor-linda-katehi-brought-oppression-back-to-greece%e2%80%99s-universities.html

    The above link suggests (in somewhat inflammatory language) that Katehi helped overthrow Greek students’ free speech rights as well. Someone should check this out and let Davis students know the truth.

  • Castorp
    November 23, 2011

    Investigating this a bit further, it now seems probable that the original report was likely in English (Katehi appears to have been the only person of Greek origin on the committee.) It can be found on the Greek Ministry of Education website at http://www.minedu.gov.gr/english/education/12-04-11-report-of-the-international-committee-on-higher-education-in-greece.html

    The findings quoted above were probably a translation of a translation. The official English version at the Ministry of Education website reads:

    “Greek university campuses are not secure. While the Constitution allows University leaders to protect campuses against elements that seek political instability, Rectors have been reluctant to exercise their rights and responsibilities, and to make decisions needed in order to keep faculty, staff and students safe. As a result, University leaders and faculty have not been able to be good stewards of the facilities they have been entrusted with by the public.”

    “The politicization of the campuses – and specifically the politicization of students – represents a beyond-reasonable involvement in the political process. This is contributing to an accelerated degradation of higher education.”

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