Charles Robinson and Christopher Edley are on a mission: they want to know how administrators should deal with protesters.
Under the direction of University of California President Mark Yudof, UC General Counsel Robinson and Edley, dean of UC Berkeley’s law school, are on a listening tour. The pair arrived at UC Davis last Friday to host a town hall meeting and hear what students had to say about police and their use of force.
“Our project is largely about looking forward,” Robinson said.
The continuation of Occupy protests at various UC campuses has become a daily issue for administrators struggling to balance freedom of speech while minimizing campus disruptions.
In November, campus police at UC Berkeley used force against student protesters and UC Davis campus police used pepper-spray on student demonstrators on the Quad.
A wide range of voices was represented at the meeting with students, faculty and staff attending. But the persistence of the Occupy movement on campus had some students wondering when the university’s patience would finally run out.
“The protesters are disrupting our education,” said sophomore biochemistry major Quyen Le.
“I support civil disobedience,” said Shaun Geer, a sociology graduate student.
Forty people participated in the forum, in contrast to the hundreds that flocked to UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi’s town hall meeting following the Nov. 18 pepper-spray incident. Most members of the Occupy movement were notably absent during Friday’s meeting.
Robinson and Edley plan to forward their recommendations on police procedures to Yudof in early March. In addition, the findings of several UC Davis-commissioned pepper-spray investigations will be released in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, campus officials have not removed Occupy tents from the Quad or prevented the blockade at the on-campus U.S. Bank. The bank blockade has now entered its fourth week.
“The hope is that protesters will eventually realize they’re hurting their fellow students,” said Barry Shiller, a spokesperson for UC Davis.
RICHARD CHANG can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.