However, the report also criticized the chancellor, along with Vice Chancellor John Meyer and Vice Chancellor Fred Wood, as sharing responsibility for the decision to remove the tents, which as a result triggered the police action against the protesters.
Drilling down even further, we find that the chancellor, along with others, was also criticized for failure to investigate claims that non-affiliates were among the inhabitants of the tents – an assumption that apparently served as the premise for the removal operation.
The chancellor has been a moving target as her initial statement issued just hours after the pepper-spray incident on November 18, 2011, was, “We have a responsibility to maintain a secure place for our students to learn, and for our faculty and staff to provide the excellent education we are known for.”
On Wednesday, as the Davis Enterprise reported, the chancellor finally started to acknowledge critical mistakes, including the fact that they relied “on bad information and a flawed decision-making process” which “caused her to be [too] quick to send in police to remove an Occupy Davis encampment.”
“I should have, we should have, allowed the students to stay with the tents,” Chancellor Katehi told the Senate’s representative assembly at the UCD Conference Center as quoted by the Enterprise, adding, “It pays a lot more to get more engaged with the students, to have a greater discussion and to really assess whether taking action (will) benefit the university.”
The chancellor also acknowledged that “there were failures in process, in decisions, in communication and there were failures in organization, both within the administration and the police” that led to the pepper spraying.
The chancellor acknowledged a mistake in not questioning information on non-affiliates.
Said Katehi, “The mistake … that I made is that I relied on information without questioning it.”
Of course, many would argue that this avoids an even more fundamental disagreement – the question that even had the information been correct about the non-affiliates, whether it should have served as the basis for action.
Another critical criticism of Chancellor Katehi during the planning for the tent-clearing operation was the decision to remove the tents during the day, rather than allowing the police as the tactical experts to develop their own strategy.
As Kroll and the Task Force point out, this decision made the legal basis for the operation questionable at best and we believe probably made the operation itself illegal.
“I made a tactical decision that was inappropriate,” Chancellor Katehi said. “My lack of understanding (of) how the police (work) let me get there … I personally never felt that I made an executive decision, but it was taken as such by a few – and that needs to be corrected.”
The session seems to have been in direct response to criticism from the Academic Senate who said, “To date, the Chancellor has not truly taken full responsibility for the incident on November 18, 2011.”
This has been our belief and concern for quite some time. The chancellor has stated that she takes full responsibility, but we have never been told exactly what full responsibility means. And part of that means that she has not explained what exactly she did wrong.
The faculty is not in a forgiving mood when they write: “The chancellor has on a number of occasions claimed that she has taken full responsibility for the events; however, to date she has not acknowledged the mistakes and errors of judgment that she has made as documented in Kroll and Reynoso.”
In our view then, she is starting to take the kind of responsibility we want to see – her directly acknowledging and addressing the mistakes that were made. Some have likened this to some sort of forced contrition, an early Christian notion of a pound of flesh exacted from detractors.
We view it differently, we believe that without going through the litany of problems and addressing them head on, the chancellor could not only avoid true responsibility, but may not understand what she did wrong and how to fix it.
As such, we think this was a good start.
It is clear at this point that the faculty is very divided on what to do at this point.
The Enterprise notes, “Some professors said they were perplexed that the actions took place after the faculty at large voted down a no-confidence measure in February by a 2-to-1 margin.
“The issue was decided. I personally think we’re making a mockery of democracy,” said engineering professor Subhash Mahajan, one of those who signed the letter disagreeing with the censure.
But that misses a huge point, which is that the Kroll and Reynoso reports were not out in February, the public and the faculty did not have all of the facts.
Moreover, we are fundamentally disappointed in the letter from a number of very esteemed faculty members at this university. We have great respect for the views of these faculty, we believe they do great work, but we are frankly a bit perplexed by the letter.
In a letter written by members of the UC Davis Association of the National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine) they “strongly protest the resolution passed by the Executive Council of the Academic Senate to censure Chancellor Linda Katehi for her response to the Nov. 18 incident.”
They write: “It is distressing that the recommendation of the special committee calling for the resignation of the chancellor was passed solely on the basis of three votes out of the six voting members of the committee, chaired by Julia Simon, professor of French in the College of Letters and Science.”
They defend the chancellor but never address the Kroll Report or the Reynoso Task Force report. They never discuss the failures to communicate, the poor assumptions, or the poor decisions that the chancellor made on November 18 and the days leading up to it.
Instead, they write, “It is not only unfair to Chancellor Katehi but it is also deceptive, inappropriate and counterproductive to the mission of UCD.”
So here you have a chancellor who is found to have made critical errors, for whom the Kroll report notes, “It was the systemic and repeated failures in the civilian, UC Davis Administration decision-making process that put the officers in the unfortunate situation in which they found themselves shortly after 3 p.m.”
Kroll writes, “By insisting that the tents not be allowed to stay up on Friday night, Chancellor Katehi did in fact make a tactical decision: that the tents would be removed during the day.”
“No one can know for certain what would have happened if the police operation had been conducted in the early morning on Saturday, or a day or two later on Sunday or Monday night. What is clear is that the timing of a police operation is a tactical decision that should be determined by police officers rather than civilian administrators.”
Moreover, the UC Davis Administrative code makes it clear that the chancellor “is the person ultimately responsible for all functions of the campus community.”
Indeed, the chancellor attempts to diffuse responsibility as, “The Chancellor told Kroll investigators that she favors a participatory style of leadership involving consensus-building rather than an authoritative style of leadership.”
However, as the task force points out, it was precisely this “informal, consensus-based decision-making process” that proved “ineffective for supporting a major extraordinary event.”
Not one of these points is addressed by the esteemed faculty members.
Not one of them.
Instead, we get this: “The campus should, of course, continue to develop policies and procedures to prevent a similar incidence from occurring in the future. However, this incident should not be used to interfere with the primary mission of the university of teaching, research and service.”
And this: “Chancellor Katehi has initiated a bold and visionary leadership for UCD to become one of the top-tier universities in the nation, and a large majority of the UCD faculty has indicated plainly that it supports the chancellor’s leadership.”
I have the ultimate respect for the body of work of many those who signed this document. However, they do the university and ultimately Chancellor Katehi no favors by writing this.
There is too much missing from this letter to ultimately achieve what they set out to achieve. They put no one’s concerns to rest by it. And ultimately to the extent that they change the terms of the debate, they do this entire community a grave disservice.
—David M. Greenwald reporting