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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Guest opinion: Weary of blame

Let me begin my comments by sharing my heartfelt sorrow: what happened Nov. 18 on our campus and the impact on so many, was nothing less than a tragedy.

When I learned what had happened, I was horrified and sickened. I am so very sorry for the students who were sprayed, those who were witnesses — for all of our students and their families — as they have all been impacted by these events.

I am sorry for the staff and faculty, alumni and community members, as we have all been impacted too. As many of you know, for over 30 years I have been affiliated with this campus community as a student, as a faculty member and as an administrator, and to be sure there have been dark days. Last Friday was, however, without doubt, the darkest. That is not the Davis I know. That is not the UC Davis I love.

I am still deeply troubled and still searching for answers. I look forward to working with all the various reviews, with complete openness and honesty, to understand what happened as a first step to ensuring this does not happen again in the future. I admit I find my emotions oscillating between deep sorrow, frustration and even anger. And like many, I too, find myself wanting to find someone or some group to blame for this tragedy. In these hard times, there are many to choose from. Some may choose the police, some the administration, some may focus on the disproportionate distribution of wealth, the power of corporations, the disinvestment in higher education, the financial times and/or the fear that is bred by these uncertain times.

But, I am weary of blame.

At some point in the coming days, weeks and months, I hope we can all find our way to move beyond the blaming, and to instead focus on the healing. We must find a way to heal these terrible wounds. For me, this has begun with a prayer for all those impacted. A prayer for all of our students, the members of our community, and yes, this includes the police officers that were involved.

Like many, in order to mend, I need to work actively. I need to know that I am serving the campus in a productive manner. With this goal, I have made a commitment, an absolute promise, to do all that I can to ensure that such an event does not happen again on this campus. It is my hope that through work and by caring for each individual, the community that is UC Davis will again be made whole.

I have hope for healing. I have hope for one reason: our students. While there is much shame to share, I have felt nothing but pride for our students. I have been proud of their efforts for peaceful demonstration and protest and for their continuing efforts to maintain peace during this troubling time.

It is my sincere hope that each of us finds a way to look forward and to heal. And I hope that, together, we can collectively work for integrity and understanding, for change, and to heal as a campus community.

Fred Wood
Vice Chancellor, student affairs



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