ucleaks

Archiving the downfall of the public university

Category: Letters

Why I’m not visiting UC Davis in April

November 21, 2011

To

Mark Yudof, University of California President,

Linda P.B. Katehi, UC Davis Chancellor,

and Linda Bisson, Chair of the UC Davis Academic Senate:

Dear President Yudof, Chancellor Katehi, and Professor Bisson,

I am an associate professor at New York University. I teach and write about digital media and contemporary culture. I was born in California, raised in Oregon and Washington, and have many times visited colleges and universities across your great state.

Several months ago I accepted an invitation to speak at UC Davis on April 12-14, 2012, as part of an academic conference on new technologies.

This last weekend the world awoke to videos depicting cruel and despicable acts, performed by paramilitary police casually spraying chemical agents on your peaceful students. Such actions are reprehensible and absolutely contrary to the moral duties of educators everywhere. These students, like many thousands around the country and around the world, were peacefully protesting the recent outrageous tuition hikes at the public University of California, the ballooning student debt burden, and a political system that puts profits over people.

I was dismayed to read Chancellor Katehi’s statement following the police attack, a statement that showed no remorse for the violence and no sympathy whatsoever for the welfare and safety of her own students. Likewise a subsequent letter from President Yudof, tried to spin the events further, but offered nothing by way of concrete action.

I regret therefore that I must withdraw my participation in the April conference — until Chancellor Katehi takes responsibility for her actions by resigning, and until UC Davis removes its paramilitary police from campus.

While my admiration and respect for the great public universities of the UC system remain strong, I cannot in good conscience visit the UC Davis campus in April. I cannot support Chancellor Katehi. I cannot support police brutality. And, quite simply, I fear for my own safety were I to visit your campus.

Sincerely,

Alexander R. Galloway, PhD

Associate Professor

Department of Media, Culture, and Communication

New York University

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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.

Sincerely,

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

UCLA English Letter of Solidarity to Berkeley English

November 18, 2011

To Our Berkeley Friends:

As the activism of Berkeley students, Graduate Student Instructors, and faculty makes statewide and national news, we feel it is our responsibility and our ethical obligation as students, instructors, and faculty at UCLA’s English Department to recognize the events that transpired last Wednesday and express our continuing support of the members who have given their time to take a stance for higher education.

In specific, we express our solidarity with the faculty, GSIs, and students who are together actively vocalizing their concerns to the public, to the Regents, and to State legislators. We also endorse and express solidarity with the commitment to nonviolence of these protests, a nonviolence particularly stark in light of the arrests of students and faculty and the brutality perpetrated by police forces at the November 9th demonstration.

As the entire UC system faces uncertainty over the future of state support, and as the burden of financing our studies is increasingly passed on to undergraduates even as university services are reduced, it is all the more imperative to acknowledge the ways in which the actions at Berkeley speak for the interests of all of us at UCLA and in our sister departments statewide.

While we are aware that the decision to participate in recent protests is an individual choice for any student, GSI, or faculty member, and that our department as a whole cannot endorse the particularities of these actions, nonetheless we celebrate that the actions of our colleagues reinforce a commitment to our students and to the project of maintaining education as a public good.

Therefore, we reiterate our ongoing appreciation, support, and commitment to our friends and colleagues at Berkeley and to our collective future.

In solidarity,

The undersigned.

 

Faculty

Boris Dralyuk, Lecturer in Slavic Languages and Literatures

Chris Chism, Associate Professor of English

Christopher Looby, Professor of English

Christopher Mott, Lecturer in English

Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Associate Professor of English

Helen Deutsch, Professor of English

Jenny Sharpe, Professor of English

Jinqi Ling, Associate Professor of English

Kathleen A. McHugh, Professor of English

King-Kok Cheung, Professor of English and Asian American Studies

Matthew Fisher, Assistant Professor of English

Michael Meranze, Professor of History

Rachel C. Lee, Associate Professor of English

Rafael Perez-Torres, Professor of English

Reed Wilson, Adjunct Professor of English

Richard Yarborough, Associate Professor of English

Yogita Goyal, Associate Professor of English

 

Graduate Students in English, Comparative Literature, and Women’s Studies

Alethia Shih

Alex E. Hernandez

Alex Zobel

Alexei Nowak

Allen Zhang

Amanda Hollander

Amy Wong

Boram Kim

Brendan O’Kelly

Christina Nagao

Christine Gottlieb

Connor O’Sullivan

Daniel Couch

Deborah Donig

Dustin Friedman

Eric Newman

Erin Conley

Ethan Pack

Gabriel Mehlman

Gillian Adler

Glen Brewer

Grant Rosson

Ian Newman

Jack Caughey

Jacob Lang

Jacquelyn Ardam

James Reeves

Jay Jin

Jeremy Schmidt

Jessica Horvath

Joyce Pualani Warren

Julia Callander

Kat Webster

Kathleen Bergren

Kim Hedlin

Lauren Dembowitz

Lindsey Wilhelm

Margarita Howell

Mark Gallagher

Martin Zirulnik

Maureen Shay

Medaya Ocher

Michael Nicholson

P.J. Emory

Renee Hudson

Robert Kyriakos Smith

Ronjaunee Chatterjee

Sam Smith

Samantha Sommers

Sarah Nance

Sharon Chon

Shirly Tung

Stacy June

Sydney Miller

Taly Ravid

Vanessa Febo

Vivian Davis

Will Clark

Yuting Huang

Open Letter to My Students and Colleagues at UC Davis by Cynthia Carter Ching

An Open Letter to My Students and Colleagues at UC Davis:

A lot has been said so far about who is responsible for the horrific violence on campus last week.  A lot of blame is being passed around, and it’s all pretty accurate.  But I’d like to take a different approach, if I may, and offer our students, my students—and yes, you are all my students whether I’ve had you in class or not—an apology on behalf of the faculty.

That’s right.  An apology.  Not just because there weren’t as many of us with you on Friday, getting arrested and pepper spray down our throats, as there were at Berkeley.  But because of something bigger.

Because we left the wrong people in charge.

You see, with few exceptions, the people running this campus up in Mrak Hall think of themselves as administrators, not as educators.  Because, with few exceptions, these are people who haven’t seen the inside of a classroom in years, if not decades, if ever.   These are people who don’t have you guys.  They don’t have students to remind them every single day on this campus why they are here, simply by stopping by their offices with a friendly, “Hey, Professor, I just had a question about something…”  These are people who don’t have you all to keep them humble by (to use a personal example) reminding them that they almost forgot to collect the paper that’s due in class today, or pointing out the typos on their final exams.

No, instead, what we have are people who end up thinking of you as data points and dollar signs, rather than as whole human beings, whose hearts and minds we as a faculty have the honor and privilege of shaping into the future of our state, our nation, and our world.  (And I assert that no one who thought of you as whole human beings could possibly have called in armed riot police to deal with a peaceful protest, tents or no tents.)

So how did it get this way?  Of course it’s complicated, but one answer is that, as faculty, we’re busy.  I know, you hear that a lot, right?  “We’re busy.”  But it’s true.  We expend a lot of energy on our research.  And the vast majority of us put a lot of time and effort into our teaching too.  Because we care about you.  We do.  But there’s a whole host of other things, administrative things, that go into running a university, that we as a faculty have had less and less to do with over the years.  Things like budgets.  And efficiency reports. And “Resource Management.”  And the truth is that most of us hate those things, and we’re perfectly happy to let someone else deal with all of it.

As it turns out, though, there’s a kind of power in those things.  Big power, actually. Money power.  And in many cases that power wasn’t just taken from us, we gave it away, all too gladly.

You know, it wasn’t malicious.  We thought it would be fine, better even.  We’d handle the teaching and the research, and we’d have administrators in charge of administrative things.  But it’s not fine.  It’s so completely not fine.  There’s a sickening sort of clarity that comes from seeing, on the chemically burned faces of our students, how obviously it’s not fine.

So, to all of you, my students, I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry we didn’t protect you.  And I’m sorry we left the wrong people in charge.

And to my colleagues, I ask you, no, I implore you, to join with me in rolling up our sleeves, gritting our teeth, and getting back to the business of running this place the way it ought to be run.  Because while our students have been bravely chanting for a while now that it’s their university (and they’re right), it’s also ours.  It’s our university.   And as such, let’s make sure that the inhuman brutality that occurred on this campus last Friday can never happen again.  Not to our students.  And not at our university.

Cynthia Carter Ching

Associate Professor of Learning and Mind Sciences

Director of Undergraduate Programs, School of Education

University of California, Davis

Nathan Brown’s call for Chancellor Katehi’s Resignation

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi
Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

What happened next?

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.

Sincerely,

Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis