You may have heard that some bad shit went down at UC Davis yesterday. Peaceful protestors + police = pepper spray — this is becoming an all-too familiar equation in today’s post-procedural liberalism America. And while I agree with ZZ and Historiann that the power-hungry UC Davis guard dogs were way out-of-control, I put most of the blame on the person holding the leash: Chancellor Linda Katehi. She’s the one who released the hounds, and now she’s trying to weasel her way out (apologies for the mixed-species metaphor). Check out the e-mail she sent to the “UC Davis Campus Community” last night (see below). Katehi claims that “we [note that she spreads the blame by using the first-person plural, rather than "I"] appreciated the peaceful and respectful tone of the demonstrations”; she also “appreciates and strongly defend the rights of all our students, faculty and staff to robust and respectful dialogue.” But because of “serious health and safety concerns,” she had to “ask the police to assist” in the removal of the protestors, at which point “10 protestors were arrested and pepper spray was used” [again, watch the blame shifting through use of the passive voice!]. This “saddened” Katehi, who evidently had no idea that the cops might, you know, do what cops do and use pepper spray. Thus did Pontius Pilate wash her hands of these “sad” events.
To point out the obvious:
- Katehi, you were the one who called in the dogs. Not “we.” You.
- Katehi, you knew damned well what would happen when you called in the cops. Don’t act so naive.
- Katehi, what do you mean by “serious health and safety concerns”? Be a bit more specific — these are the sorts of generalized claims that get my students C-minuses on their essays.
- Katehi, you may not want to admit this, but you had some choices. You could have just let the protestors be. Or, if you were so concerned about “health and safety,” how about using the rent-a-cop money to help the protestors take care of their own health and safety, instead of imperiling their health and safety? Riddle me this: how does pepper spray improve a person’s health and safety? Unless I’m wrong, pepper spray is actually bad for someone’s health. I think that’s the whole point of pepper spray — to hurt someone.
- Katehi, you should probably quit. Really — just go. And while you’re at it, take as much of the bloated UC administrative system with you as possible. We don’t need it.
See and smell Katehi’s bullshit below:
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