Archive for April, 2012
Dear Chair Bisson:
The board of the Davis Faculty Association formally requests that the matter of the so-called “Davis Dozen” be considered as an agenda item by the Executive Council of the Faculty Senate. Specifically, we would like the Executive Council to ask Chancellor Katehi to make a public statement calling for the Yolo County District Attorney to dismiss the charges against the eleven students and one faculty member in connection with their actions at the U.S. Bank. The “dozen” were protesting the administration’s contract with the U.S. Bank, which allowed a private corporation to advertise on UC Davis student ID cards, which also function as US Bank ATM cards, thus delivering our student body to the bank as potential customers. This is particularly disturbing at a time when rising tuition is linked to rising student debt, from which US Bank profits. In our view, the actions of the “dozen” are to be regarded as acts of civil disobedience and political dissent intended to defend the public character of this university. Therefore, the protest at U.S. Bank was not simply the same as any other protest that might happen to take place on a university campus; rather, this was an effort to defend of the essential mission of UC Davis itself as a public university. Nor is the administration to be regarded as a neutral party. The protest targeted actions of the administration, and the charges were encouraged and facilitated by the administration, who allowed the protest to continue for over four weeks and then forwarded names to the DA for prosecution. We now ask the Chancellor to publicly reject this criminalization of principled dissent by asking the Yolo County District Attorney to dismiss all charges.
The Board of the Davis Faculty Association
Among those charged is one of our faculty colleagues, Joshua Clover, Professor of English. The students charged are Geoffrey Wildanger, Conrad Samaan, Sophia Kamran, Thomas Matzat, Deanna Johnson, Mohammed Shehk, Kevin Smith, Thomas Zolot, Nicholas Malone, Ali Navid, and Evan Buswell.
As many of you will know, these students and faculty are now facing serious charges. The charges are conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor and twenty counts of obstruction. The first charge carries a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison. And each of the second charges carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison. In addition, the administration and the DA are seeking to hold those charged responsible for some $1 million dollars in losses due to the closure of the bank branch.
In other words, these are charges that could seriously damage these people’s lives.
Several of these students were among those pepper-sprayed in November.
We encourage you to attend the rally tomorrow, and to publicize this event as widely as possible among your students and email networks.