Letter of Condemnation from UCD Department of Asian-American Studies to Chancellor Katehi
Dear Chancellor Katehi,
As faculty and staff in the Department of Asian American Studies, a department that emerges from students’ courageous assertions of their rights to free speech and assembly, we are outraged by the unnecessary and excessive use of violence by the police against peaceful student protesters at UC Davis on Friday afternoon, November 18, 2011.
We are invested in the educational mission of this public land grant university. As scholars in Asian American Studies, we are especially committed to teaching about the legacy of civil disobedience and encouraging students’ critical analysis and engagement with the structures of power, both inside and outside of the classroom. We will not tolerate the brutal assaults on the rights of free speech and to peaceful assembly on this campus and other UC campuses.
The protests during this past week were organized and supported by a coalition of undergraduates, graduates, staff and faculty, who have all been severely affected by the burden of the privatization and corporatization of the university implemented by the Regents and UC administration. Abandoning the vision of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the Regents’ decision to raise tuition has led to onerous debt, making it impossible for students to take full advantage of a UCD education, while also denying future generations access to quality higher education.
We find it very disturbing to read a statement in your official account to us on November 18th that “a number of protestors refused our warning, offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal.” The students who were peacefully assembled in resistance were met with unprovoked militarized violence: the pepper-spraying at point blank range and the threat of being hit by batons and pellet guns. Linking arms and refusing to disperse does not justify the overwhelming use of force and severe bodily assault by heavily armed police officers. The well-documented circulation of videos and photographs of Friday’s incident sends a message to the world that UC Davis faculty, staff, and student protesters are regarded on their own campus and administration with suspicion and hostility rather than treated as participants in civil society. This spectacle of violence against the university’s most important asset – the students – does inestimable damage to our integrity, our reputation, and our standing as a public university.
We also find it very disturbing to learn about the unjustified surveillance by undercover police photographing students and faculty, part of a broad criminalization of student dissent. Your fear and mistrust of the students together with your call to violent measures sanctioned by you and the UCD administration underline your failure to live up to the responsibility of protecting the well-being of a diverse community and to provide a place where we can live, learn, and work in a truly safe and secure environment.
We express NO CONFIDENCE in your leadership and those in the administration to respond appropriately to student protests, to secure student welfare, and to respect freedom of speech and assembly on the UC Davis campus.
We express NO CONFIDENCE in your consistent lack of leadership to address substantively forms of both individual and institutionalized violence, including the racialized and homophobic incidences that appear to be increasing again in these times of turmoil and anger on our campus.
We express NO CONFIDENCE in you and the Regents, wherein you have both failed in your responsibilities to fight for state funding for public education.
We call upon you to expedite a formal, independent investigation through the Academic Senate and request full accountability and disciplining of those found culpable for actions (like pepper spraying) against student protestors.
We call upon you to release any UCD students arrested and those in custody to be released immediately. We call upon you not to penalize students for exercising their rights to non-violent civil disobedience.
We call upon you to enact new administrative protocols immediately to avoid the brutality and shameful violence witnessed on November 18 on our campus by students, faculty, alumni, the broader community and the world.
Nolan Zane, Chair and Professor
Darrell Hamamoto, Professor
Wendy Ho, Associate Professor
Richard Kim, Associate Professor
Sunaina Maira, Professor
Susette Min, Associate Professor
Robyn Rodriguez, Associate Professor
Sarita Echavez See, Associate Professor
Caroline Kieu Linh Valverde, Assistant Professor
Isao Fujimoto, Emeritus