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Davis, California

Friday, May 24, 2024

Students, ACLU, media scrutinize attempts to monitor protests

Students and representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) held a press conference Tuesday to shed light on the Student Activism Team (SAT) – administrators’ efforts to monitor campus action.

Eric Lee, junior political science major, Sarah Augusto, graduate student in sociology and two members from Sacramento County’s and Yolo County’s ACLUs said the team’s covert formation was a breach of trust and an attempt to privatize the university.

“We students find this untenable and hypocritical,” Lee said.

Augusto said she found the list of administrators and staff involved in SAT especially disconcerting. SAT members include staff from Student Housing, Financial Aid and resource centers, such as the Cross-Cultural Center and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center.

“It suggests that the administration is targeting minorities and using staff that students are close with … why use staff members [who work for Student Housing and Financial Aid] with direct power over students, with access to so much information?” Augusto said.

Another concerning issue is the secrecy, Augusto said. Students didn’t learn about SAT until a former student, Brian Sparks, filed a California Public Records Act request.

“If they wanted to be transparent as they say they do, they’d put student activists on the team, they’d open a dialogue with students and they would have said their intentions in the very beginning,” Augusto said.

According to a protocol draft dated Aug. 18, 2010, the main roles of SAT are to “support freedom of expression, promote student safety, educate the campus on free speech policy and assist in preventing disruption of normal campus activities through education and implementation of time, place and manner regulations.”

Augusto said it is difficult for team members to promote free speech or safety if they aren’t open about their presence. She said that at the March 2 Day of Action, a man was seen following the rally and advising students not to use megaphones indoors. When asked who he was, he said he was a volunteer, present to protect students. This is not transparent enough, Augusto said.

“If we want support at a rally, how would we even know how to get it?” she said.

The 280 pages of public documents include drafts of protocol, team membership and e-mail correspondences. Members e-mailed one another to discuss expected action plans, schedule meetings and debate what the team should be called.

In a July 2010 version of the SAT list of members, there was a section of “UCD Emergency Services,” which included UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza, UC Davis Police Captain Joyce Souza, UC Davis Police Lieutenant Matthew Carmichael, UCD Police Dispatch, Assistant Fire Chief Weston Arvin, UCD Fire Dispatch and Emergency Manager Valerie Lucas McEwen. In newer versions of the list, “UCD Emergency Services” isn’t included.

Griselda Castro, assistant vice chancellor of Student Affairs and SAT leader, wasn’t sure exactly why the “UCD Emergency Services” section of the SAT membership list was removed or on there to begin with.

She said that the membership list is intended for members of SAT to contact one another. Police numbers were likely removed because not all team members contact police – vice chancellors do. She also noted that SAT only contacts the police when there is a public safety issue, but outside parties often call instead.

Documents also reveal that correspondences were not just between members of SAT, but members of the news service and other departments. Castro said SAT stays in contact with various members of the community depending on the protest.

“Every situation depends on the situation,” she said.

For example, documents show Claudia Morain, news service director, communicating frequently with SAT leading up to September’s gubernatorial debate. Morain said that this is because she tries to keep the news service team appropriately staffed and informed – when protests occur there is often media interest, and university communications is expected to know what is going on.

Some information in the documents is covered in black. According to a Dec. 9 letter from Lynette Temple, Information Practices coordinator, to Sparks, this is because some information is protected by certain privileges in the Public Records Act code. These privileges include the attorney-client privilege and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

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

Public documents reveal correspondences between SAT and the following:

Linda Katehi, chancellor

Fred Wood, vice chancellor of Student Affairs

Rahim Reed, associate executive vice chancellor

Robert Loessberg-Zahl, assistant executive vice chancellor

Karen Hull, associate vice chancellor of Human Resources

Marjorie Dickinson, assistant vice chancellor of Government and Community Relations

Jason Murphy, director of State and Government Relations

Steven Drown, campus counsel

Michael Sweeney, associate campus counsel

Annette Spicuzza, UC Davis police chief

Joyce Souza, UC Davis police captain

Matthew Carmichael, UC Davis police lieutenant

Claudia Morain, news service director of University Communications

Mitchel Benson, associate vice chancellor of University Communications

Julia Ann Easley, UC Davis News Service

Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service

Beverly Sandeen, vice chancellor of University Relations

Maril Stratton, editor

Elizabeth Meyer, director of Employee and Labor Relations

Ken Ealy, consultant with Human Resources

Louise F. Uota, director of Ceremonies & Events

Cheryl Davis, personnel services manager

Mark Champagne, ASUCD manager

Stacy A. Miller, executive assistant with Student Affairs

Janet Roche, executive assistant with Student Affairs

Katie Port, executive assistant with Student Affairs

Lori Hubbard, executive assistant to the associate chancellor

Erika Hendrick (resigned), academic coordinator with Student Housing

To view the documents, visit public.me.com/ucdresearch



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