Students, faculty, staff and other community organizers gather to demand for Chancellor Katehi’s removal
On April 1, supporters of the #FireKatehi movement gathered together to demand for UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi’s removal. The protest was part of a planned event entitled “Fire Katehi: Katehi Ditch Day, March, Press Conference” which incorporated three planned actions: a walk-out, march and press conference held in front of Mrak Hall.
The walk-out began at 12:30 p.m at the Memorial Union flagpole. From there, protesters shouted various chants demanding for Katehi’s removal. Some of the chants shouted include “Eyes on Mrak! The people fight back!”, “Whose University? OUR university!” and “No justice! No peace! Fire Ka-te-hi!”
Protesters then proceeded to march towards the main entrance of Mrak Hall. They arrived at the steps of Mrak by 12 p.m. The set-up for the press conference included putting up a podium, microphone and two banners held on both sides of the stand.
The press conference featured speeches from a variety of community members including undergraduate students, graduate students, transfer students, professors and community organizers from various campuses and outside affiliations.
Throughout the speeches, there were various references made to Katehi’s involvement in for-profit educational boards. Additionally, there was also mention of Katehi’s alleged failure to appropriately address cases of sexual assault and hate crimes on campus.
Kyla Burke, a fourth-year environmental science and management major, stressed in her opening speech that the press conference represented the protesters’ willingness to be accountable and transparent with their demands. Burke and others believe that Katehi has not been able to offer the same level of transparency to both protesters and the greater campus community.
“They are trying to paint us as a safety hazard while completely ignoring the danger of calling the police on a group like us, [a group] of mostly folxs who live on the margins [of the communities] we represent” Burke said. “Today we want to challenge that narrative. To give you our perspective. We have nothing to hide so we are here explaining ourselves to you at a public forum, unlike the chancellor.”
By 1 p.m, the press conference ended and protesters proceeded to enter Mrak Hall and chant their demands on various floors of the building.
Katehi was not present during the three-part protest. In an email sent a day before, the Office of Strategic Communications explained Katehi’s absence from the protest. The email stated that Katehi’s absence was due to the protesters’ unwillingness to hold a discussion.
“Chancellor Katehi will not attend the protesters’ planned gathering on Friday, April 1, given that the event will not allow for her meaningful participation or the potential for a productive discussion of campus issues,” the campus-wide email stated.
Following the protest, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter sent an email to students concerning the aftermath of the protest. Within the email, Hexter informed the community that several of the protestors left graffiti on the walls of Mrak and that administration will continue to monitor students choosing to occupy after business hours.
Members of the #FireKatehi movement have acknowledged the grafitti and have made attempts to clean it up. Supporters of the #FireKatehi movement continue to occupy the fifth floor of Mrak Hall since their first day of occupation on March 11.
Written by: KATRINA MANRIQUE – firstname.lastname@example.org