Davis Faculty Association

Archive for November, 2011

Bratton a bad choice to investigate UC Davis police

On November 27, 2011, the Council of UC Faculty Associations (the UC systemwide organization of faculty association chapters) delivered the following letter to UC President Mark Yudof:

Dear President Yudof,

The Council of University of California Faculty Associations (CUCFA) protests your decision to hire the Kroll Security Group, and its Chairman William Bratton, to conduct what you call an independent investigation of police violence at UC Davis. We take no position here on Mr. Bratton’s personal qualifications; our objection is to the conflicts of interest of Kroll Security itself, which is already a major contractor with UC on security matters. According to its website, Kroll’s services are not confined to securing databases and facilities from attacks by criminals and terrorists. It also protects many global financial institutions and other multinationals against threats to “operations” that may come from public criticism and direct political action.

By deepening UC’s links to Kroll, you would be illustrating the kinds of connection between public higher education and Wall Street that the Occupy UC movement is protesting. Kroll’s parent company, Altegrity, provides data-mining, intelligence and on-the-ground security to financial institutions and governments seeking to head off and defeat both private sabotage and public protest. In addition, Altegrity’s parent company, Providence Private Equity, is a major global investor in for-profit higher education companies that benefit from the decline of publicly funded higher education.

We already know that Kroll has provided security services to at least three UC campuses for the past several years. This in itself would disqualify Mr. Bratton from participating in the investigation you propose, even if the role of Kroll and its affiliated companies in defending the financial sector against OWS did not raise further questions about its pro-Wall Street and pro-privatization bias.

A truly independent investigation that would allow UC to provide a credible response to the events at Davis (and the other campuses) needs to address several questions that would not be seriously considered if you hire Kroll.

* What was your role and that of UC General Counsel in the events at Davis? Did you, as a distinguished first amendment scholar, tell chancellors and campus police chiefs that protests (especially protests against UC’s own policies) are “part of the DNA of this University” that should not be addressed using the same techniques that UC has developed (likely with the help of Kroll) to deal with terrorists, shooters, and cyber-saboteurs? (Even if you have been a zealous defender of the rising student movement to restore public higher education, such a conclusion would not be credible coming from an investigation tainted by Kroll’s conflicts of interest outlined above.)

* What was and is the role of Kroll in helping banks and public institutions (including UC) investigate and defeat movements such as OWS and their campus counterparts? Is Kroll now acting as a liaison between universities, city governments and the Department of Homeland Security in defending the financial sector against protests occurring on what used to be considered public spaces? Are protests against Wall Street in such spaces now considered a threat to the security of the nation, the city and the public university? (The growing securitization of public space has been a major obstacle to first amendment activity since 9-11.)

* How much money has UC and its individual campuses paid to Kroll for security services? Were these contracts issued as sole source contracts or was there open bidding? Were Kroll’s services confined to protecting, for example, the privacy and integrity of data systems and faculty and staff conducting animal research or did they extended to what Kroll’s website calls “organizational threats” arising from “the dynamic and sometimes conflicting needs of the entire campus population?” (This could be a description of the student protests that you rightly regard as “central to our history” as a university.)

* What led to the issuance of false and misleading statements by University of California officials (Chancellors and their assistants, spokespeople, and police chiefs) in the aftermath of police violence at Berkeley and Davis? Did you encourage these efforts at spin control? (Dishonest statements seriously damage the university as an institution devoted to truth and protect only the individuals whose decisions are in question.)

The broader issue is how protest can be part of what you characterized as “our university’s DNA” when the right to protest is not formally recognized within the university’s own codes of student and faculty conduct. It could be and should be. The CSU student code states explicitly that “[n]othing in this Code may conflict with Education Code Section 66301 that prohibits disciplinary action against students based on behavior protected by the first amendment.” If such language were included in the UC code of conduct, students would have a clear first amendment defense against disciplinary action arising from peaceful political protest-and there would be strong grounds for questioning the legality of a police order to disperse a peaceful protest from a public site on a public university campus. The explicit incorporation of constitutional limits on UC’s power to break up demonstrations that threaten its march toward privatization would go a long way toward recovering UC as a public, rather than a private, space. We urge you to see that the UC codes of conduct are amended to parallel those in place at CSU.

Events at Davis and the other campuses have shown the University of California in a negative light, and we agree strongly with the need for an independent investigation. We believe, however, that your appointment of Kroll to investigate the university’s response to last week’s protest could itself become a basis for new protests, and that you should ask Speaker Perez (or someone unaffiliated with the University) to appoint a genuinely independent committee with representatives from student, faculty, staff and civil liberties groups. Such a committee should be given a specific charge to investigate and report on all of the questions set forth above.

Robert Meister,
President, Council of UC Faculty Associations
Professor History of Consciousness and Political and Social Thought, UC Santa Cruz

CUCFA Condemns Police Violence Against Non-Violent Protesters

The Davis Faculty Association is the Davis chapter of the Council of UC Faculty Associations, which has published (cucfa.org) the following:

The Council of UC Faculty Associations Condemns Police Violence Against Non-Violent Protesters

This week, we have seen excessive force used against non-violent protesters at UC Berkeley, UCLA, CSU Long Beach, and UC Davis. Student, faculty and staff protesters have been pepper-sprayed directly in the eyes and mouth, beaten and shoved by batons, dragged by the arms while handcuffed, and submitted to other forms of excessive force. Protesters have been hospitalized because of injuries inflicted during these incidents. The violence was unprovoked, disproportional and excessive.

We are outraged by the excessive and unnecessary force used against peaceful protests.

We are outraged that the administrations of UC campuses are using police brutality to suppress dissent, free speech and peaceful assembly.

We demand that the Chancellors of the University of California cease using police violence to repress non-violent political protests. We hold them responsible for the violence and believe it can only result in an escalation of outrage that holds the potential for even more violence.

Police brutality damages the University’s public image, and, more importantly, it damages the climate for free expression at UC. We condemn the assault on the legacy of free speech at the University of California.

We call for greater attention to the substantive issues that motivate the protests regarding the privatization of education. With massive cuts in state funding and rising tuition costs across the community college system, the Cal State network, K-12, and the University of California, public education is undergoing a severe divestment. Student debt has reached unprecedented levels as bank profits swell. We decry the growing privatization and tuition increases that have been the frequent — and only — responses of the UC Board of Regents.

Signed,
The Board of the Council of UC Faculty Associations

 

The above statement has been turned into a petition by Progressive Change. We encourage you to sign.

DFA Board Calls for Katehi’s Resignation

The DFA Board calls for the immediate resignation of Chancellor Katehi. The Chancellor’s authorization of the use of police force to suppress the protests by students and community members speaking out on behalf of our university and public higher education generally represents a gross failure of leadership.

Given the recent use of excessive force by police against “occupy” protestors at UC Berkeley and elsewhere, the Chancellor must have anticipated that, by authorizing police action, she was effectively authorizing their use of excessive force against peaceful UCD student protestors. The Chancellor’s role is to enable open and free inquiry, not to suppress it.

We also call for a policy that will end the practice of forcibly removing non-violent student, faculty, staff, and community protestors by police on the UC Davis campus. The University of California should be taking a leadership role in encouraging the exercise of free speech, not in suppressing it.

 

(The list of other groups that have called for Chancellor Katehi to resign has been updated and moved to its own post.)

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Nathan Brown is a board member of the Davis Faculty Association. He has been distributing the following letter, which the DFA board has agreed to reprint below:

 

18 November 2011

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

What happened next?

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police sprayed students with pepper-spray. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.

Sincerely,

Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis

Statement of Support for the UC Student Movement Against the Privatization of the University of California and in Defense of Public Education

The Davis Faculty Association supports the ongoing efforts of students at UC Davis and across the UC system to defend the public mission of our university by protesting ongoing tuition increases. We commend the persistence and the courage of UC students as they continue to voice their concerns in the highest traditions of free speech and civil disobedience. We also affirm the example of our colleagues at UC Berkeley who, in the face of violent police repression, stood in solidarity with UC Berkeley students November 9th. We support the efforts of UC Davis faculty to stand in solidarity with the student movement.

UC system-wide strike, Davis Rally Recap

The rally yesterday on the UC Davis quad went very well and was extremely well attended. One of the speakers at the event, Nathan Brown (that is him with his arm raised on the speaker’s stage at the rally yesterday), is also a DFA board member. The text of his speech has been posted to the Keep California’s Promise web site.

Rally, Tuesday, 12 noon, Quad

The DFA board reiterates its support of the Occupy Cal call for a strike on November 15 to protest the use of police brutality to stifle the important debate about the current course of the University.

While we believe the short notice for this strike will result in less response than a well organized action would have, we do still call on students, staff, and faculty to support the Occupy Cal strike to the extent that you feel legally or contractually allowed and that you believe is appropriate to recent events at the Berkeley campus and the changing structures of the University and its relations to the larger society.

Rally, 12 noon, Quad:

We encourage everyone to attend a rally that will be held starting at 12 noon tomorrow on the quad. Please advertise the rally widely among your colleagues and students.

Here is a short list of links with background information about the strike which we encourage you to share among your students and colleagues:

DFA’s Endorsement of the Strike:
http://ucdfa.org/

A list of other endorsements, including other campus faculty associations:
http://reclaimuc.blogspot.com/2011/11/update-on-strike-endorsements-and.html

UCD Rally Event Page on Facebook (by far the most helpful link for students):
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=246092445449061

UCD Student Movement Page with Strike Information:
http://bicyclebarricade.wordpress.com/

UCB faculty member Celeste Langan’s “Why I Got Arrested with Occupy Cal–and How”
http://utotherescue.blogspot.com/2011/11/why-i-got-arrested-with-occupy-cal-and.html

Videos of the use of police brutality to suppress faculty and student protest at Berkeley:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_f06VQOkI4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNHXuf6qJas&feature=player_embedded

CUCFA President Bob Meister’s excellent article on why tuition increases are the problem, not the solution:
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9806378/Meister%20-%20Can%20the%20Financial%20Industry%20Save%20Public%20Universities.pdf

Teach the Budget page, containing helpful information, charts, and graphs to share with students:
http://teachthebudget.com/

DFA Board Endorses Occupy Cal’s Call for Strike

The board of the Davis Faculty Association has voted to endorse the strike called for by Occupy Cal to occur on November 15.

After a mass rally and march of over 3,000 people, and repeated police assaults on the encampment, the Occupy Cal general assembly decided — with over 500 votes, 95% of the assembly — to organize and call for a strike and day of action on Tuesday, November 15 in all sectors of higher education. We will strike in opposition to the cuts to public education, university privatization, and the indebting of our generation. [source]

Re-Fund California Coalition, which the Council of UC Faculty Associations has endorsed, has now produced a statement that provides more background and context to this issue:

Today we announce a student strike at UC Berkeley on Tuesday, Nov. 15th to reject the excessive police force used against our protests to make Wall Street — and the corporate elite on the boards governing our universities — pay for refunding public education. Some faculty are expected to join the student strike, and the actions will add to the growing momentum for statewide convergences at the CSU Trustees meeting in Long Beach and the UC Regents meeting at UCSF Mission Bay on November 16th.

There is a crisis today for California’s students and their families, but not for the Wall Street and corporate elites who control the economy and dominate the governing boards of California’s universities.

California leads the nation in tuition increases with nearly 100 percent rise in tuition costs since 2008, inflating student loans to $1 trillion nationally. We keep paying the price while Wall Street and corporations are left off the hook. We didn’t cause the economic crisis — they did.

That’s why we call on the board members and executives of our universities to sign the ReFund California pledge to support real solutions to fund public education and improve the economy for California families. They should join the community whose interests they say they represent instead of irresponsibly using police force to silence our freedom of expression.

Again, more information about this issue will be posted here as it becomes available.

Student Walkout Heads Up

Students at UC Davis and college campuses around the state are planning to walk out tomorrow, at least long enough to hold noon information meetings leading to protests planned at next week’s UC Regents’ meeting.

Although such activities on the Davis campus currently seem to have less traction than on some of the other campuses, that may change as the focus on the costs of athletics and related matters become more transparent (e.g. discussions regarding the replacement of athletic director Greg Warzecka and the current administration’s athletic aspirations). As you may be aware, student costs are higher at UCD than at most of the other campuses, because of their contributions to the costs of athletics in its current configurations (e.g. through the Student Activities and Services Initiatives Fees).

More information about the call for protests at UC Davis tomorrow and at the Regents’ meeting on the 16th is available at various web sites, including:

http://www.makebankspaycalifornia.com/refund_public_education_action_week

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=149401828492122

http://www.dailycal.org/2011/11/02/bill-nicholas/

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