Monday, March 5, 2012

Davis Faculty Association's Critique of the Administration's New Demonstration Policies #occupyucdavis

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

The Administration's Policy

Dear UC Davis Community,

As Occupy activities continue nationally and locally, some of you have expressed interest in knowing more about our approach to managing campus protests.

We're writing to update you on this and the anticipated release of a report from the Reynoso Task Force, which has been conducting an inquiry into the pepper spraying of students last November 18 during a demonstration on the Quad.

The Task Force has indicated that it hopes to unveil the report and invite input at a public forum on our campus on March 6. Further details will be provided soon. Task force update from Justice Reynoso can be viewed at:

Meanwhile, since classes resumed in January there has been a brief occupation of the former Cross Cultural Center; placement of tents on the Quad; sustained efforts by a small group of demonstrators to deny access to employees and customers to the U.S. Bank office in Memorial Union; and, most recently, disruption of a lecture featuring Israeli soldiers.

Here are the principles underlying our efforts to protect lawful freedom of expression:

*  The campus's efforts to manage these situations have been, and are, guided by patience and restraint.

*  When protesters' actions exceed established guidelines for protected free speech, we are seeking to engage and listen to them while explaining the potential implications of their actions. At the former Cross Cultural Center, for example, this approach facilitated a peaceful end to a potentially divisive situation. To view the established guidelines for protected free speech please see:

*  We have formed engagement teams to visit protest sites and communicate directly with protesters. At the bank, we have consistently and persistently conveyed to demonstrators that they are violating campus and state regulations by denying access to customers and bank staff, and that they are subject to campus disciplinary and criminal misdemeanor sanctions. You can view information about how UC Davis has conveyed this information (UC Davis pursues legal and campus process for bank blockers) at:

*  We will communicate similarly with any individuals participating in occupation activities on the Quad or elsewhere on campus, recognizing that campus police may be required to help respond to or resolve emergency situations.

*  We will continue to monitor these situations and will take action as necessary to ensure that all members of our campus community can practice their First Amendment rights while also permitting the ongoing operations of the university's teaching, research, and public service functions.

For many, these are difficult times. As a community, we respect the passion and energy of those seeking to create constructive economic and social change. We hope that participants in campus will respect the rights of community members to freely engage in academic, professional and personal pursuits.


Ralph J. Hexter
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

John A. Meyer
Vice Chancellor-Administrative and Resource Management

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