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Davis, California

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Democratize UC holds demonstration at Memorial Union


Demonstrators demand for more student voices present in selection of new UC Davis chancellor

A small group of demonstrators coalesced around the flagpole at the Memorial Union on the afternoon of Oct. 11 to advocate for greater student representation in the selection of UC Davis’ new chancellor. This follows the resignation of former chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi on August 9, 2016.

“Democratize UC,” the group who organized the demonstration, is a continuation of the Fire Katehi movement that staged a 36-day sit-in at Mrak Hall.

“We are just […] pissed off because we don’t want another Katehi: another big-business overlord, greedy, piece-of-s**t person that doesn’t give a s**t about anyone else but their salary and their friends who are also hella rich and in the administration,” said Becca Payne, a third-year technocultural studies major. “We want someone who actually cares about the students.”

The core of the demonstration revolved around the selection process for the new chancellor.

“The town hall is what is going on right now,” Payne said during the demonstration. “This is when we as students […] are supposed to give our input in what we want in a new chancellor. This town hall is merely a pathetic advisory to the actual advisory board. The advisory board has two student representatives — just two, one undergrad and one graduate student representative. This advisory board is only an advisory board to [UC President] Napolitano. Napolitano gets to pick whoever […] she wants to then present to the UC Regents and then the UC Regents then approve her suggestion of who the new chancellor is going to be.”

According to the UC Davis, the aforementioned advisory panel will conduct interviews of potential chancellors and forward semifinalist names to UC President Napolitano, who will make her final nomination to the UC Regents.

According to Payne, although the process of picking a new chancellor is important, there are also pressing day-to-day issues affecting UC Davis students. This includes struggles to keep up with an extremely fast-paced academic climate.

“Maybe that’s because of the quarter system that we are on,” Payne said. “Maybe because this university and this institution doesn’t actually give a s**t about the students and doesn’t actually give a s**t if we learn or not. They just want us to get our degrees and get […] out.”

Bernadette Fox, a fourth-year international relations and women’s studies double major, spoke next. Fox accused Napolitano of conniving to keep student voices out of the chancellor selection process.

“Let’s be real, we all know that Napolitano probably already has someone picked out for the chancellor,” Fox said. “So her way of patting us on the back, making us feel like our voices are being heard, is holding a meeting at the Mondavi Center […], when the majority of undergrads have classes to get to. Don’t think that’s a coincidence; that’s the stuff they plan on purpose to let you know they don’t really give a s**t what you think.”

Fox believes that the chancellor selection process does not actually include student involvement.

“I find it very telling that the current process is structured in a manner that allows the UC Regents and President Napolitano to essentially add anyone they want to the pool of applicants while subsequently choosing to dismiss all applicants recommended by the advisory board,” Fox said via e-mail. “They’ve engineered a system that allows for them to choose whomever they want while simultaneously giving the illusion that they’ve considered ‘our input.’ And I put that in quotations because thus far there’s been limited and little attempt to create a way for student, faculty and worker input to be heard.”

Many students sitting at the MU were able to watch the demonstration. Trevor Lynn, a fourth-year physics major, felt comfortable when interacting with the protestors.

“This is first and foremost a student-[driven] protest,” Lynn said. “[The demonstrators] are all incredibly nice, very welcoming, really positive, especially in the face of how negative a lot of these things make us feel, certainly make me feel. I feel it’s really easy to get angry about a lot of these things, but the overwhelming feel of this demonstration is really positive which is great.”


Written by: Kenton Goldsby — campus@theaggie.org 


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