Davis Faculty Association

Archive for March, 2012

Dear President Yudof: Reliance on outside groups risks student and faculty rights to speak freely and responsibly

Dear President Yudof:

The Davis Faculty Association shares your concerns with regard to hateful speech and the intimidation of minority groups at the University. However, we are troubled by some aspects of your recent letter to the University concerning an incident that took place at the University of California, Davis. In particular, you referred to an incident that involved representatives of the Israeli armed force who were speaking at the Davis campus. You stated in your letter:

“It was wrong for hecklers to disrupt speakers on the UC Davis campus at an event entitled ‘Israeli Soldiers Speak Out.’  It was reprehensible that one of these hecklers accused the speakers of being associated with rapists and murders. Under the direction of Chancellor Katehi, campus officials dealt appropriately with this individual, moving him out of the room and barring re-entry. I condemn the actions of those who would disrupt this event. Attempting to shout down speakers is not protected speech. It is an action meant to deny others their right to free speech.”

According to the accounts of multiple members of the UC Davis faculty who were present at this event, however, only a single individual actually disrupted the meeting by heckling the speakers.  The other students who attended the meeting in order to protest staged a silent walkout and then held a meeting outside. Your own description of what happened on this occasion therefore seems to confuse the issue by equating responsible and respectful protest with intimidation and disruption.

You also announced that you intend to consult two particular outside groups for advice and information about how to “improve campus climate for all students.” As faculty members, we do not understand why outside groups should be required in order to observe or define hateful speech at our University. We are concerned that the occasion may arise where students object to the content of a professor’s course and enlist the help of these outside groups.  We are alarmed that you intend to rely on such groups to help you determine the appropriateness of expression of opinions on campus.

We urge you instead to rely on the resources that you already have: the faculty of the University of California. It is surely possible for the faculty themselves to understand these issues and to decide what constitutes hateful or intimidating speech and protest.  To rely on outside groups for consultation or advice risks infringing upon the right to speak freely and responsibly that both students and faculty enjoy as members of the university community.  We ask that you reconsider these aspects of your statement to the University and your undue obeisance to select outside groups.

The Board of the Davis Faculty Association

cc: Linda P.B. Katehi, Chancellor
John Meyer, Vice Chancellor, Administrative and Resource Management
Linda F. Bisson, Chair Davis Division of the Academic Senate
Bruno Nachtergaele, Vice Chair Davis Division of the Academic Senate

Letter to Senate Chair Bisson from DFA Chair Shershow

Earlier, DFA Chair Scott Shershow sent a letter to Provost Hexter and Vice Chancellor Meyer to raise objections to the “Demonstration Management Principles and Policies.” In their response, Provost Hexter and Vice Chancellor Meyer assured the DFA that leadership of the Davis Division of the UC Academic Senate is regularly consulted in matters related to protest management, including about the message in question. With this letter, Chair Shershow is following up on these assurances with the UC Davis Academic Senate:

Dear Chair Bisson,

As the Chair of the Davis Faculty Association, in consultation with its board, I recently wrote to Provost Hexter and Vice-Chancellor Meyer raising several objections to the “Principles for Demonstration Management” which they promulgated in an email to the campus community on March 1, 2012. Among other things, the DFA board pointed out that these new principles made no mention at all of the recently-passed Senate resolution that “demands that police deployment against protestors be considered only after all reasonable efforts have been exhausted and with direct consultation with Academic Senate leadership.” Further, when the Provost and Vice-Chancellor stated that “campus police may be required to help respond to or resolve emergency situations,” they did not make clear that they intended to account for and include the specific recommendation of the Senate resolution in the structure of the administration’s decision-making process.

In a subsequent response to my letter, Provost Hexter stated: “Be assured that leadership of the Davis Division of the UC Academic Senate is regularly consulted in matters related to protest management. In fact, Senate leadership was consulted about the message in question.”

(The full text of the DFA’s original letter of inquiry, and of the Provost’s reply, are available at http://ucdfa.org/)

We now wish to inquire of the Senate for more details about the consultation that Provost Hexter mentions. In what way, exactly, was the Senate consulted as to these new “principles” prior to their distribution, and if so, did the Senate leadership approve them? More generally, we would also be interested in knowing what steps, if any, the Senate leadership has taken or intends to take to ensure that “direct consultation with Senate leadership” will take place prior to any future deployment of police against protestors.


Scott C. Shershow
Professor of English
Chair, Davis Faculty Association

Petition in Opposition to Retroactive Legal Measures Against Student Demonstrators

UC Davis Faculty who support the following petition concerning retroactive legal measures taken against student protesters should forward their name and title to petition@cucfa.org. All supporters of the protestors may be interested in adding your name to the petition at http://davisdozen.org/petition.php.


March 21, 2012

Dear Chancellor Katehi and Provost Hexter,

On March 16, The UC Davis Dateline newsletter for faculty and staff announced the closure of the UC Davis branch office of the US Bank and the cancellation by the bank of its contract with the University. The closure of the branch and cancellation of the contract were due to a blockade of the branch office carried out by student and faculty protesters from January through March. It is important to understand the political content of this blockade: the demonstrators continually stated their opposition to the substitution of private contracts for public funding of the UC system, and they continually pointed out conflicts of interest related to University contracts with corporations profiting from student loan interest as the UC administration continues to increase tuition, thus forcing many students to take out increased loans.

We reiterate our support for the principled and determined actions of UC students and faculty to defend the public character of the UC system against privatization, a goal with which the blockade of the US Bank branch was consistent.

The announcement of the bank’s closure in Dateline also included the following two paragraphs:

“As of today (March 16), UC Davis police had forwarded six cases to the Yolo County district attorney’s office, recommending prosecution for violating Penal Code sections that make it a misdemeanor to ‘willfully and maliciously’ obstruct the free movement of any person on any street, sidewalk or other public place, or to intentionally interfere with any lawful business.

“Mike Cabral, assistant chief deputy district attorney, said March 15 that the district attorney’s office had not yet completed its review of the case files—and that a decision on whether to prosecute is likely to come Monday or Tuesday (March 19 or 20). If the decision is made to go forward, the district attorney’s office will notify the suspects by mail, ordering them to appear in court.”

We write in opposition to the UC Davis administration’s decision to have these cases forwarded to the DA by the police, and we ask that the administration recognize the political content of the US Bank blockade rather than treating it as a criminal matter.

Opposition to the use of force against demonstrating students in November 2011 was not only directed against police brutality, but also against the UC Davis administration’s repression of political activism on our campus. We view the use of retroactive legal actions against demonstrating students as an effort to carry out such repression of political activity while attempting to evade the public scrutiny to which the administration’s repressive measures have been subjected. Moreover, in this case these retroactive legal actions clearly target a small sub-group of the demonstrators involved in blockading the bank, suggesting that specific demonstrators are being targeted for selective prosecution so as to single out and intimidate the most active student protesters.

For these reasons, we ask that the administration urge the district attorney’s office, in writing, to exercise its option not to prosecute those cases that have been forwarded in relation to the US Bank blockade, or to reverse the decision to prosecute if it has already been made. Further, we request an end to the use of retroactive legal action as a punitive measure against political protesters on our campus.

Don Abbott — Professor of English
Sarah Pia Anderson — Professor, Cinema and Technocultural Studies
Josephine Andrews — Associate Professor, Political Science
Ali Anooshahr — Associate Professor, History
Raul Aranovich — Associate Professor of Linguistics
Carlee Arnett — Associate Professor German and Russian
Chris Benner — Associate Professor of Community and Regional Development; Chair, Geography Graduate Group
Mario Biagioli — Distinguished Professor of Science and Technology Studies & Law
Gina Bloom — Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, English, Co-Director of the Mellon Research Initiative in Early Modern Studies
Larry Bogad — Associate Professor, Theater and Dance
John Bowman — Professor, Department of Plant Biology
Anne Britt — Professor, Department of Plant Biology
Kenneth Britten — Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Nathan Brown — Assistant Professor of English
Marisol de la Cadena — Professor of Anthropology
Steve Carlip — Professor of Physics
Patrick E. Carroll — Associate Professor of Sociology
Seeta Chaganti — Associate Professor of English
Timothy Choy — Associate Professor of Anthropology
Daniel Cox — Professor of Physics
Maxine Craig — Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies
Natalia Deeb-Sossa — Assistant Professor, Chicana/o Studies
Katayoon (Katie) Dehesh — Professor, Plant Biology; Chair of Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology
Jesse Drew — Associate Professor of Technocultural Studies
Fran Dolan — Professor of English
JoAnne Engebrecht — Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Ian C. Faloona — Associate Professor, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
Rida Farouki — Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Daniel Ferenc — Professor of Physics
Margaret Ferguson — Distinguished Professor of English
Gail Finney — Professor of Comparative Literature and German
Jaimey Fisher — Assoc. Prof., German and Cinema & Technocultural Studies, Director, Cinema & Technocultural Studies
Yvette G. Flores — Professor, Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies
Jeff Fort — Assistant Professor, French
Kathleen Frederickson — Assistant Professor, Department of English
Cristiana Giordano — Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
Laura Grindstaff — Professor of Sociology, Director, Consortium for Women and Research
Noah Guynn — Associate Professor of French
Robin Hill — Professor, Department of Art
Wendy Ho — Professor, Dept. of Asian American Studies
Hsuan Hsu — Associate Professor of English
Alan Jackman — Prof Emeritus, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
Mark C. Jerng — Associate Professor of English
Suad Joseph — Professor, Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies
Caren Kaplan — Professor, American Studies
George Kaysen — Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine
Ian Kennedy — Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Richard S. Kim — Associate Professor, Asian American Studies
Joe Kiskis — Professor of Physics
Neil Larsen — Professor, Department of Comparative Literature
Lyn H Lofland — Research Professor of Sociology
Kari Lokke — Professor of Comparative Literature
Marjorie Longo — Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
William Lucas — Professor of Plant Biology
Markus A. Luty — Professor of Physics
Martha J. Macri — Professor of Native American Studies
Sunaina Maira — Professor, Asian American Studies
Amina Mama — Professor, Women and Gender Studies
James Marcin, MD, MPH — Professor – Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Director, Pediatric Telemedicine
Darrin Martin — Associate Professor of Art Studio
William Mason — Professor Emeritus, Psychology
Bill McCarthy — Professor of Sociology
Sally McKee — Professor of History
Elizabeth Carolyn Miller — Associate Professor of English
Flagg Miller — Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Director of the Graduate Group in Religion and Director of the Middle East / South Asia Program
Susan Miller — Professor of History
E. O. Milton — Professor Emeritus, Department of Mathematics
Susette Min — Associate Professor, Asian American Studies
Stephanie Lee Mudge — Assistant Professor of Sociology
Monique Borgerhoff Mulder — Professor of Anthropology
Kimberly Nettles-Barcelon — Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies
Almerindo Ojeda — Professor of Linguistics
Marijane Osborn — Professor Emeritus, English
Bob Ostertag — Professor, Cinema and Technocultural Studies
Ana Peluffo — Associate Professor, Department of Spanish & Portuguese
Noha Radwan — Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature
Kriss Ravetto — Associate Professor of Cinema and Technocultural Studies
Marcel Rejmanek — Professor of Evolution and Ecology
Michael Rios — Associate Professor of Environmental Design
Simon Sadler — Professor of Design
Valeria La Saponara — Associate Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Suzana Sawyer — Associate Professor of Anthropology
Richard Scalettar — Professor of Physics
Seth L. Schein — Professor of Comparative Literature
Juliana Schiesari — Chair, Department of Comparative Literature; Professor of French/ Italian and Comparative Literature
Sarita Echavez See — Associate Professor, Department of Asian American Studies
Omnia El Shakry — Associate Professor of History
Jocelyn Sharlet — Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
Scott Shershow — Professor of English; Chair of the Davis Faculty Association
Scott Simmon — Professor and Chair of English
David Simpson — Distinguished Professor of English, G.B. Needham Chair
Bradford Smith — Professor Emeritus, Veterinary Medicine: Medicine and Epidemiology
James Smith — Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Eric Smoodin — Professor, Program in American Studies
Smriti Srinivas — Professor, Anthropology
Daniel A. Starr — Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Alan J. Stemler — Professor Emeritus — Plant Biology Dept.
Blake Stimson — Professor, Cinema and Technocultural Studies Association
Pieter Stroeve — Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Co-Director of the California Solar Energy Collaborative
Dawn Sumner — Professor of Geology
Colleen Sweeney — Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine
Baki Tezcan — Associate Professor of History, and Religious Studies
Steven M. Theg — Professor of Plant Biology
Eddy U — Associate Professor of Sociology
Stefano Varese — Professor Emeritus of Native American Studies
Archana Venkatesan — Assistant Professor, Department of Comparative Literature & Program in Religious Studies
Evan Watkins — Professor of English
Karen Watson-Gegeo — Professor of Language, Literacy and Culture
Tim Weaver — Associate Professor of Anthropology
Joe Wenderoth — Professor of English
Stephen Wheeler — Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
Carl Whithaus — Professor, University Writing Program
David Wittman — Associate Professor. Department of Physics
Stefan Wuertz — Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Michael Ziser — Associate Professor, English

Union authorization cards signed by majority of faculty at University of Oregon

The American Association of University Professors — with which several UC Faculty Association chapters have a negotiated relationship, although the DFA does not — has been working to unionize the faculty at the University of Oregon. The AAUP has announced to its members an important step towards that goal. While there has been no discussion at UCD of unionizing, as an Inside Higher Ed article (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/03/15/university-oregon-faculty-takes-step-toward-unionizing) on this topic says:

The now-likely formation of the faculty union at Oregon would be a major victory for academic labor, which has struggled in recent years to organize at research universities. “It shows that faculty members are increasingly frustrated at the increased corporatization of research universities,” said Jack Nightingale, associate director for higher education organizing at the American Federation of Teachers.

The letter from AAUP to its members follows:

Dear AAUP Member:

We’re pleased to announce that yesterday, faculty members at the University of Oregon moved one step closer to forming a union when they filed union authorization cards, signed by a clear majority of faculty, with the state Employment Relations Board.

The faculty union, United Academics of the University of Oregon, will be jointly affiliated with the AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers. The group includes tenure-track, non-tenure-track, and research faculty. In addition to a solid overall majority of UO faculty, the union authorization cards presented yesterday include majorities in all three classifications of faculty represented.

United Academics seeks to restore the voice of faculty in the university’s educational and research priorities. Enrollment at the university has grown by 4,000 students during the last five years, but support for instruction has not kept pace, resulting in dramatic increases in class sizes. One goal of the new union will be to restore budgetary alignment with the university’s core missions of teaching, research, and service to the state of Oregon, say faculty.

The union will be formally certified once the Employment Relations Board confirms that the signed cards represent a majority of the UO faculty.

“Oregon faculty have just made two-fold history,” says AAUP president Cary Nelson. “They are one of the first two major research campuses to organize for collective bargaining in decades. What’s more, their tenure-track and contingent faculty have combined forces in one union to show us how to guarantee quality education for the future. They and their colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago have led the way for faculty all across the country.”

Provost Hexter and Vice Chancellor Meyer respond to DFA Chair Shershow

Provost Hexter and Vice Chancellor Meyer responded to DFA Chair Shershow’s letter to them regarding their message to the UC Davis community “Demonstration Management Principles and Policies” (see previous post). Their response is below:

Dear Chair Shershow,

We appreciate this opportunity to clarify what appear to be substantive misinterpretations of our recent message to the campus community updating principles for demonstration management.

First, we issued this letter in response to multiple inquiries for clarity since last November 18, We regret not making that more explicit.

Second, the timing of this message and the Reynoso task force report were and are unrelated. The release of the task force findings had been uncertain and, in any case, has always been beyond the campus’s control. We decided to provide the update after several recent campus demonstrations and increasing requests for clarity about our approach to managing them — nothing more, or less.

Be assured that leadership of the Davis Division of the UC Academic Senate is regularly consulted in matters related to protest management. In fact, Senate leadership was consulted about the message in question.

We are committed to the principals of patience, engagement and restraint. This approach proved effective in peacefully ending January’s brief occupation of the former Cross Cultural Center. We anticipate that the Reynoso Task Force will provide helpful suggestions and guidance allowing us to further cultivate and refine this approach.

Thanks again for the opportunity to address your concerns.

Ralph J. Hexter, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
John Meyer, Vice Chancellor, Administrative and Resource Management

Letter from DFA Chair Scott Shershow to Provost Hexter and Vice Chancellor Meyer

Dear Provost Hexter and Vice Chancellor Meyer:

I write on behalf of the Davis Faculty Association in consultation with its board to raise several serious objections to the “Demonstration Management Principles and Policies” outlined in your email to the UC Davis community on March 1, 2012.  We particularly wish to raise the following three points:

1.  The first of your principles states that “The campus’s efforts to manage these situations have been, and are, guided by patience and restraint.”  We find such an assertion to be demonstrably untrue, at least with regard to the first clause. Surely you do not mean to suggest, for example, that the pepper-spray incident itself was handled with patience and restraint.

2.  We find it unacceptable that you elected to introduce these new principles just prior to the long-delayed release of the Reynoso report on Tuesday.  Surely the faculty should at least be allowed to see and digest this report about the pepper-spray incident before they are given, or are asked to accept, any new principles for dealing with precisely such situations.  In our view, you are insulting the very process initiated by the administration — the process that was so often declared to be necessary before any judgment of the Chancellor’s responsibility for these events — by introducing these principles just prior to the release of the Reynoso report.

3.  Your letter fails even to mention, and indeed, seems pointedly to ignore, the recently-passed Senate resolution that “demands that police deployment against protestors be considered only after all reasonable efforts have been exhausted and with direct consultation with Academic Senate leadership.” You state that “campus police may be required to help respond to or resolve emergency situations.” This statement does not make clear that you intend to account for and include the specific recommendation of the Senate resolution in the structure of the administration’s decision-making process.

In short, the board of the DFA believes that the principles outlined in your letter are unacceptable, and that they represent an attempt to bypass and ignore the lessons of our recent history.

We respectfully request a specific response to each of the three points detailed above.  We have also decided to make this an open letter: we are sending a copy of it (and any response you care to offer) to our membership, and are also posting it on our website.

Scott C. Shershow
Professor of English
Chair, Davis Faculty Association
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616

UCD Funeral for Public Higher Education

Here are some photos from the UC Davis funeral for public higher education held on March 1st. It rained lightly, which set the mood perfectly, but turnout was rather light — perhaps fifty people. It was a good production though, ith an excellent bagpipe player and drummer, pallbearers, and about fifty black clad mourners. Local media were present en mass, and cops were either absent or very discrete.

DFA Chair Scott Shershow attended in his professorial robes and was pressed into service as an officiant to preside over a portion of the funeral. Although he had not prepared anything in advance, Scott did a fine job of describing the achievements of public higher education and his hope that, with the efforts of those present, it could be reborn.

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