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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Students to rally in support of public education

Wednesday marks the official Day of Action to defend public education. College campuses across the state will erupt in protests, including UC Davis.

Protesters will meet for a rally on the quad at 11:30 a.m. There will be speakers, including students, workers and community members, and a march through campus.

Kase Wheatley, a protest organizer and sophomore undeclared major, said he is participating in the day of action because student fees are exorbitant.

“We have the highest fees of any UC and fees are going to go up around 10 to 15 percent each year for the next three years,” he said. “UC executives are demanding millions in bonuses, UC President Mark Yudof makes more than the President of the United States and the construction projects continue, even though there is no money.”

Wheatley cited a number of additional reasons to be angry, including the university’s policy for salaries. UC gives market base pay, which compares UC officials’ salaries with those of other schools, including some Ivy Leagues. This method of finding employees and assigning salaries is not appropriate for a public university, Wheatley said.

“Maybe we’re equal intellectually, but the universities are extremely different,” he said. “One’s pseudo-public and one’s extremely private.”

Pete King, UC spokesperson, said that the university typically does not comment before a protest occurs. However, he did have a response to Wheatley.

“But you’d want an Ivy League qualified professor, wouldn’t you?” he said.

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said the campus police is preparing in a similar way to past days of action.

“We try to work with the students,” she said. “We really have nothing unusual planned. As long as [protesters] are not being destructive, everything will be okay.”

In the event that protesters attempt to occupy a building, as they have in the past, Spicuzza said that the police will follow a set of procedures – they will talk to the protesters, Student Affairs and building owners, and ultimately determine if the protesters are allowed to stay.

Protests can cost the police department more than a normal day’s work, Spicuzza said. It depends on various factors, such as the length of the protest or if there is destruction.

“It can cost in terms of paying officers overtime, or we might have to call other campuses for more officers and then pay them,” she said.

Spicuzza emphasized that the police are primarily looking to protect the students who choose to participate in the day’s events.

“We want to make sure they are safe, and we also want to make sure no one else is bothering them,” she said.

JANELLE BITKER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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