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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Letter to the editor: Demands for Chancellor Katehi

Dear Chancellor,

Your actions on Friday placed many students in danger. You casually sent in police in riot gear despite the horrendous example of Berkeley one week ago, while doing nothing to ensure that students would not be harmed. Sadly and predictably, several non-violent student protesters were hurt as a result of your actions. The care and growth of our students is our most sacred trust, and you have violated that trust.

Worse still, your actions afterword suggest no real remorse or efforts to fix the problem, but rather flailing around, trying to find a P.R. spin that will not make you out to be a monster for hurting your students. Your first communique after the incident mentioned that pepper spray was used in the passive voice, as if it just went off by itself and no one was to blame.

Now you are trying to blame campus non-affiliates, saying that the interaction between students and non-affiliates is dangerous. I wonder if, by your logic, the city of Davis itself should descend into dangerous chaos, what with the members of the city of Davis and students interacting constantly. I am sick of your spin and words. I demand to see decisive, positive leadership. Failing that, I demand your immediate resignation.

I demand to see the following immediately:

1) Police on this campus do not need weapons. Many fine institutions including Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, etc. have amazing police forces that do not carry weapons. They have not descended into anarchy. On the contrary, police and students have better relations on these campuses as students are less afraid of their police. I demand the removal of weapons from UC Davis police.

2) Protesters need to be supported and listened to by the administration, not met with police in riot gear. Sustained occupation of university property does happen on many campuses and the university does not collapse. On the contrary, the university is made stronger.

3) The use of pain compliance techniques, like pepper spray on peaceful protesters, should be explicitly forbidden and a statement released condemning it. It absolutely should not be made possible by official UC Davis Police policy, like it is now.

4) An independent, external investigation separate from the University of California into the incident needs to occur.

Failing immediate action on these matters, please add my voice to those calling for your resignation.

Shaun Geer
Graduate student, sociology


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