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Davis

Davis, California

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Guest Opinion: Linda P.B. Katehi

To the UC Davis community:

Over the past several weeks, we have had many productive discussions across our campus about how we should respond to the recent incidents of hate and intolerance at UC Davis.

Immediately following those March incidents, I called on the Campus Council on Community and Diversity to develop a plan of action to confront these types of incidents and to promote a safer, more inclusive, hate-free campus climate.

On May 5, in response to the council’s recommendations, I announced a strategic investment of $230,000 annually, beginning July 1, to combat hate and intolerance on our campus. These are difficult financial times, to be sure, but I believe that these investments are critical to advancing our shared goal of a safer, more inclusive and hate-free environment.

Specifically, the money will be invested into three programs:

Office of Student Affairs

Program support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center (LGBTRC). The campus will allocate $100,000 in base (ongoing) funds, effective July 1, 2010, to sustain and enhance ongoing programs and training. These funds might be used to add staff (salary and benefits), or support student interns, graduate students (salary and fee remission) or other operating costs that Student Affairs Vice Chancellor Fred Wood, Assistant Vice Chancellor Griselda Castro, Center Director Sheri Atkinson and other key advisers identify as the highest priority needs for the LGBTRC.

Mentorship programs for the Black Student Union. The campus will allocate $100,000 in base (ongoing) funds, effective July 1, 2010, to institutionalize mentorship programs that focus on underrepresented, underserved and marginalized students. These funds can be used for staff (salary and benefits), graduate students (salary and fee remission) or other operating costs that will help advance the programmatic goals discussed and endorsed by the Campus Council on Community and Diversity, under the guidance of Cross-Cultural Center Director Steven Baissa and other key advisers.

Office of Campus Community Relations

Program support for the Campus Council on Community and Diversity. The campus will allocate $30,000 in base (ongoing) funds, effective July 1, 2010, to fund events, training programs, students or other costs that will advance our shared goal of a hate-free campus. These are ongoing funds, but I am urging Associate Executive Vice Chancellor for Campus Community Relations Rahim Reed to avoid making any permanent commitments.

Rather, I am asking that he work with the Campus Council on Community and Diversity and other constituents to identify the highest priority uses for these funds each year. I am also encouraging those involved to look for opportunities to leverage these funds by identifying matching opportunities or other creative funding approaches that maximize benefit.

I have asked that the stewards of these funds collaborate with the campus council to jointly develop an implementation strategy that includes a regular reporting mechanism, with both quantitative and qualitative metrics that demonstrate the impact of these investments and other initiatives to meet our shared goals.

I appreciate and applaud the efforts of Associate Executive Vice Chancellor Reed and the good work of the Campus Council on Community and Diversity to identify those priority needs that will allow us to take the most fruitful actions.

Of course, much has already been done, and there is also much more to do. Expressions of hate, intolerance and incivility have no place in a university community that prides itself on educating the brightest minds of tomorrow and are inconsistent with the goals of our Principles of Community. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Principles of Community statement, our campus is actively engaged in reaffirming our commitment to these principles in a number of ways to promote freedom of expression, confront acts of discrimination, appreciate our differences and build a more inclusive campus community.

On April 13, our campus community publicly reaffirmed our Principles of Community at the Soaring to New Heights Staff Diversity Awards Program. I, along with the leadership of the faculty, staff and student constituent groups, signed the fifth reaffirmation of these principles and accepted the obligation we have to strive “to build a true community of spirit and purpose based upon mutual respect and caring.”

Several weeks ago, we invited Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to present a talk entitled “Civility in a Fractured Society” as the first in a yearlong series of distinguished speakers we plan to bring to campus in support of our reaffirmation of the Principles of Community.

On April 25, I had an opportunity to visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles with several UC Davis students and staff. Our group toured the many exhibits and participated in a special session designed to expose us to the Tools for Tolerance training program developed by the museum staff. We also had an opportunity to discuss future collaborations in tolerance and diversity training, and the possibility of bringing some of the museum’s mobile training exhibits to our campus. (For more information on the reaffirmation of the Principles of Community, Chairman Leach’s presentation and the visit to the Museum of Tolerance, please visit my website: chancellor.ucdavis.edu).

On May 5, Tim Wise, a noted author and anti-discrimination activist, presented a public lecture, and led a training session for peer educators and diversity trainers on campus.

In addition, the Campus Council on Community and Diversity will continue to work toward establishing a hate-free campus. And soon, I hope to have more information to share with you about initiating a campuswide dialogue aimed at developing and supporting an environment that inspires respect and provides support to those destined to become our next generation of civic leaders.

Again, these are turbulent economic times, but I am confident that investing in a safer, more welcoming campus community will yield returns that are critical to advancing our commitment to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.

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