Member Survey Results
On November 19, 2011, in the immediate aftermath of the pepper-spraying of non-violent UC Davis students protesting tuition increases, the DFA board issued a statement calling for the immediate resignation of Chancellor Katehi, and calling for an end to “the practice of forcibly removing non-violent student, faculty, staff, and community protestors by police.”
In the last two weeks, we surveyed the DFA membership for their opinions of the board’s action. Sixty-four members responded (out of a total membership of 145). On the first question, regarding our call for an end to the policy of using the UCD police to suppress demonstrators, 58 members approved and 4 did not approve. On the second question, regarding our call for the Chancellor’s resignation, 34 members did not approve, and 29 approved. (A few respondents did not answer both questions.) The opinions expressed in the comment portion of the survey varied widely. Some members expressed enthusiastic support for the Board’s action, praising the DFA for assuming a leadership role in this pressing issue. Some others expressed strong disapproval of the Board. In particular, some members claimed the Board’s decision was “premature,” suggested that the membership ought to have been surveyed first, or noted the fact that some media outlets reported that this was an action of the DFA in general.
Several members asked for more information about the Board’s process. It should be noted that the DFA acts by majority vote of its Board in accordance with the organization’s by-laws. In this specific case, on the Saturday following the pepper spray incident, the Board debated its response via email. A majority voted to release the statement on the DFA website, in response to what we deemed an extremely urgent and quickly-evolving situation.
In making this decision, the Board majority took into strong consideration the initial statement of Chancellor Katehi in which she blamed the protestors for the violence, as well as her second statement in which she acknowledged ordering in the police. We also took into consideration a similar, less publicized event that took place in 2009 where UCD police in riot gear were sent in to Mrak Hall to remove peaceful protestors of tuition increases and faculty and staff furloughs, resulting in several injuries and 52 arrests.
Finally, we were especially mindful of the brutalization of students and faculty at another peaceful demonstration at UC Berkeley nine days earlier. In the wake of this event, it seemed to us that the Chancellor had every reason to anticipate something similar here, and that, under these circumstances, her decision to order armed police onto the campus in the context of a peaceful demonstration was absolutely unacceptable.
The DFA Board’s action, was, to our knowledge, the first explicit statement of faculty solidarity with the students involved, and was portrayed in the initial wave of press reports as representing faculty support for their students. Some reports simply ascribed the statement to “the DFA,” whereas the statement itself clearly notes that it comes from “the board of the DFA.” It should be noted, however, that according to our by-laws, the elected board does have the duty to act for the Association.
The Board has met twice to evaluate developments since its statement on November 19. A majority continues to stand by its initial statement to uphold its support for the student movement in general. We are not encouraged by the Chancellor’s statements and apologies, which appear to have shifted according to the needs of the moment, nor by the revelation of a new Chancellor’s “advisory board” filled with corporate CEOs. Chancellor Katehi has already publicly stated that she is fully responsible for the pepper-spraying incident. We agree, and therefore continue to call for her resignation.
This entry was posted on Sunday, December 11th, 2011 at 11:00 am and is filed under Calls to Action. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.