We, the Chicana/o studies department faculty, join our colleagues on the UC Davis campus in decrying the unwarranted and excessive use of force by the UC Davis police on peaceful student demonstrators on Nov. 18, 2011. We echo the calls around campus for a full investigation into the incident and an analysis of the larger structural inequalities giving rise to the protests here at UC Davis and across the country. We are deeply concerned about the utter disregard for students’ rightful protests against rising tuition costs and the difficulty it poses particularly for underrepresented groups who have traditionally lacked economic access to the University of California.
To that end, we support the creation of a task force to carry out the investigation and believe that it must include individuals with knowledge and experience in civil rights and human rights. We request the appointment of someone like the Honorable Cruz Reynoso, a former California Supreme Court Justice and UC Davis School of Law professor, whose expertise and ethics would lead to an effective and just plan of action.
We also believe that the task force must include the students who risked everything to make the university accountable to its principles. As leaders in this movement, we need to ensure their voices are represented.
Given the importance of accountability and transparency in this process, we would also like the task force to include in their recommendations how specific campus policy changes in the campus Policy and Procedure Manual can be developed so that we can protect all Davis community members’ civil and democratic rights to protest and voice their discontent without fear of intimidation or excessive force.
We also believe that no thorough investigation can be done in the next 30 days, given that the holidays approach and that most students, staff and faculty will be away during the break. As such, we call for an extension of the 30 day deadline.
Finally, we expect a swift yet accurate and equitable response to the incident on the campus Quad on Nov. 18, and the larger unsettling developments across the country. As the eyes of the nation and, arguably, the globe descend on UC Davis, we need to demonstrate a leadership that takes into account this nation’s commitment to civil rights and human rights.
Chicana/o Studies department