Does anyone else get the feeling over the past couple days that we as a community are making a huge mistake by bombarding Chancellor Katehi with demands for her resignation?
I will honestly say I have been.
When I look back at what happened on Friday, I can’t help but think that we are going after the wrong person here. True, it is a fact that Katehi ordered UCDPD to remove the tents, but it is also a fact that she ended the order there. Katehi never asked to have the protesters removed, nor did she ask the officers to go in riot gear — those were all decisions made by the police chief. Katehi was not the one who pulled out the can of pepper spray and dowsed students in it, and yet we are going after her like a pack of savage animals. Katehi was not the one responsible for making sure trash like Lt. John Pike didn’t make it into UCDPD — that was all on the Police Chief.
We all want a safer campus where an incident like what happened on Friday will never happen again, and Katehi has clearly voiced that she wants the same thing. Katehi has also publicly denounced the actions that were taken by officers on Friday. Even though she was not directly responsible for the pepper spraying, even though every one of those officers — and in fact, the Chief of Police — disobeyed her orders by attempting to remove the protesters, Katehi is taking the heat for all of them regardless.
Monday she clearly announced that if we as a community do not want to be part of the university we saw on Friday, then neither does she. She apologized publicly for actions that were not even directly her fault in front of THOUSANDS, even after having stood and listened to a crowd get primed against her over and over again by community members who chose to not speak civilly about their opinions, but yell and excite. Going up on that stage takes an incredible amount of courage and an incredible emotional toll which could be heard in Katehi’s voice, and seen in videos across the web in her tired face. On top of all this, Katehi was virtually chased back to her office by protesters demanding her resignation. How is that the civility she was promised? She clearly cares about us, about our university, and above all she has faith in us.
The bottom line is that, whether we want to accept it or not, Katehi cares about us as students. Unlike most faculty in charge of the UCs, Katehi has demonstrated immense courage by not only admitting that change has to be made, but also by making strides to accommodate such change which otherwise would have taken years. She is actively working to rebuild trust with our student body and faculty, and has demonstrated good judgement by placing both Lt. Pike and the Police Chief on leave.
I’m not saying that Katehi hasn’t made some critical errors in the past few days and weeks — she has, and she has admitted to them. What I am saying is that if our community really wants a shot at a better future for our university, we need to look at what the smart things to do are. Do we continue on our manhunt for Katehi’s resignation and possibly end up with someone far worse taking over her position? Or do we stop blaming the wrong people and give the one truly powerful faculty member on this campus who actually cares about the students a chance to prove her worth to us?
Think about it. Who would you rather have at the helm? A new by-the-books chancellor placed by the regents, who likely would have no past history with Davis, let alone a clue of our movement’s agenda?
The changes we are looking for don’t happen overnight, we all know that. So let’s give Katehi a timeline and a chance to really live up to making this our university. Part of me says that she is the only real hope we’ve got.
We need to give her the chance to be OUR chancellor, not Yudof’s or the regents’.
Our university, Our Chancellor!
Sophomore, aerospace science and engineering