Settlement plans between the University of California and the students pepper sprayed on November 18 were submitted for court approval last week, where the university is to pay $1 million to the plaintiffs, attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union.
We are happy that a settlement has been reached, but we feel that the focus should be put on new policies to avoid the possibility of repeat incidents. One million dollars is a lot of money, but people should keep in mind that the money used in this case was set aside for the University’s self-insured General Liability Risk Program, and it would have been used in another university lawsuit anyway.
On April 30, the University of California published the Robinson-Edley Report, which contained 50 recommendations to ensure that protests will be handled in a manner that does not result in undue violence and injury.
However, these recommendations mean nothing if they are not enacted and enforced. Lack of communication was a primary factor that led to the incident in the first place, and it will be good communication that ensures the future safety of students and the accountability of those in charge.
It should be the responsibility of students and faculty to hold the administration to their policies, and it should be the responsibility of the administration to provide adequate lines of communication, making sure that the student body is informed of the rules regarding protests.
While students receiving compensation is a good thing, it is even more promising that Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is issuing personal apologies to each student. We hope that within these apologies, Katehi will take responsibility for her actions, as well as the university’s.