UCD, Who Do You Protect?


Davis Stands with Ferguson Protest

by Brandon Buchanan, Kyla Burke and Emily Breuninger

Davis Stands with Ferguson organized last Tuesday’s protest on campus, calling for students, administrators, and campus police to take action about systemic racism and violence in our community. As an intersectional group committed to justice, and committed to addressing our community’s needs, we realized we must end our complicity with the following: private prisons; police intervention and militarization; and the continuing vilification and criminalization of the Black body. Reflecting on the overlap of the UC Davis campus and larger systems of racism and oppression we realized there were two key areas for demanding change:

1. We demand the disarmament of campus police; particularly lethal and military grade weapons.
2. We demand UC Davis divest from companies directly and indirectly involved in the prison industry.

When confronted by systemic racism, administration often says that the answer lies in “investing in recruitment and retention.” While investing in valuable recruitment and retention programs, the University is also enforcing and investing in the violence that makes attending institutions of higher learning dangerous for students of color. This contradictory aspect of the University arises from the neo-liberal and multicultural shift in the University; a shift that does little to address the foundations of the University built on white supremacy and racism.

Our investments in the prison system and our continued militarization and armament of police are not the result of an oversight but arise directly from the logic that shapes our University. Davis Stands with Ferguson demands that we align the stated goals of the University with their actions – that they invest in recruitment and retention by ending our investments in private prisons and disarming campus police. Our community is not isolated, and the University’s reach is not small. If administrators want to recruit students they cannot support the incarceration of communities of color and the policing of students of color on campus.

Divesting from Private Prisons

These demands arise out of a broad analysis of power, and are clear, concrete steps that we can take here at UC Davis. The first of these demands, divestment from private prisons, is grounded firmly in an actionable item that all can participate in. The prison industrial complex, a system Michelle Alexander aptly calls “The New Jim Crow,” is an industry built off of the perpetual growth of prisons – the ever increasing policing, arrest, and incarceration of people. We have invested in a system that incarcerates more Black men than were enslaved in 1850. We are invested in a system of incarceration meant to brutalize and control Black bodies. We are invested in the business of imprisonment; of women, of immigrants, of queer folks, of all those deemed undesirable by a system which determines humanity to be white, masculine, cis-, and straight.

Disarm Police Forces

The policing of Black bodies and performance are also enforced here at UC Davis. We demand the disarming of campus police because we recognize them as the instruments of racial and state violence that they are. Policing, as an institution, arose largely from runaway slave patrols and the black codes that incarcerated newly freed slaves. This history of violence dovetails into the growth of campus police. Campus forces gained widespread popularity after the student protests of the 60s and 70s produced identity resource centers, cultural centers, and equal opportunity programs – all of which made higher education more accessible for students of color, women, and queer folk. With the rise of marginalized communities within higher education, we also see a rise in campus policing. When we speak of “safety,” we have to ask safety for whom. Sam Dubose, Zikarious Flint, Antonio Guzman Lopez were not protected by armed campus police. The increasing armament and militarization of police forces doesn’t protect the student body, it protects interests which are contradictory to our well-being, and quells student protest when we seek to advocate for ourselves.

Moving Beyond Discussion

Addressing these problems requires more than discussion. Many members of our group have attended the police forums mentioned by the Aggie’s Editorial Board and found that not only have the forums been unhelpful, they have displayed law enforcement’s deep lack of knowledge about their own institution as well as the needs of the community. The problems with policing are not going to be solved by discussing the logic of policing with armed individuals who will defend their institution before the community. The concept of dialogue is one in which all are brought together as equals, an equality impossible with the threat of lethal force available to campus police. There are historical and social reasons why we have seen a move towards “discussion” as the means of solving social problems, especially on University campuses. Within our classrooms and educational spaces educators must ensure that students engage and actively listen to each other – they ask that students ask hard questions about themselves and the society they are building. But this, as with any pedagogical tool has its limits. The use of “discussion,” particularly by administrators represents one of the problems with the University. A recent example of this comes from former University of Missouri President Wolfe:

“Change comes from listening, learning, caring, and conversation. We have to respect each other enough to stop yelling at each other and start listening, and quit intimidating each other through either our role or whatever means that we decide to use.”

An exemplary sociologist of race, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva argues this is a perfect example of what he calls “abstract liberalism.” This liberalism calls for continued dialogue, decrying protest as foreclosing discussion, without recognizing that students of color are having these discussion every day – and that we are taking to the streets after exhausting ourselves trying to educate instead of dismantling the unequal power that exists on our campus. UC Davis deserves a community where safety and diversity are not buzzwords to which campus officers pay lip service; a community in which campus police lay aside their capacity to end student lives and our administrators invest ethically businesses that don’t profit off the incarceration of our communities.

Between our administrators and our police department we ask, “Who do you protect? Who do you serve?” History, current campus climate, and an analysis of systems of power yield a clear answer – not students, and certainly not students of color. We have to demand real change, systemic change, and that has to start with divestment and disarmament. We ask our fellow students to join us in our call for justice – this is our community, our school, and only we can turn back the tide of militarization and systemic racism.


About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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62 thoughts on “UCD, Who Do You Protect?”

      1. Davis Progressive

        you mean like the top administrators who get mid-six figure salaries?  you mean like the cost of tuition sky rocketing?  you mean like the quasi-privitization of universities to make more money?  none of this is ultra-liberal.  so show me an example of where they being ultraliberal as a campus?

    1. Tia Will


      I agree with you that some of this is “hooey”. But it is not all “hooey”.

      The legitimate points being made as I see them.

      1. I agree that public money and student fees should not be invested in or in anyway used to support the private prison industry. These are for profit institutions whose goal is to maximize their profits rather than safely isolate or rehabilitate the inmates. I do not invest in these businesses as a matter of principle and support our students desire to divest.

      2. I believe in community policing as opposed to further militarization of our police forces, especially our campus police forces. For those who do not think that the students have a legitimate complaint about the potential for excessive use of force by a militarized campus police, one has to look no further than the factual findings regarding the misuse of pepper spray on the UCD campus.

      With regard to “moving beyond discussion”, I part company with the students. I believe that peaceful change is almost always based on the sharing of ideas and although that change will almost inevitably be slower than some would want, it will also be faster than others are comfortable with. Peaceful means through discussion and negotiation are almost always superior to other actions.

  1. Frankly

    The kids have nothing significant to complain about and no real struggles in life, so they make crap up.  And the liberal elite running the institutions egg them on.

    Just like the fake racial issue in Missouri, the media takes off in their lazy way of making coin off of the “controversy”.

    It should all be ignored… the same way parents should deal with a toodler throwing a tantrum.

    1. Barack Palin

      Frankly, have you heard that the black student on the hunger strike protesting against white privilege comes from a family where his dad made $8.4 million in 2014 working as an exec for a railroad?  We should be protesting his privilege.

      1. Tia Will


        I don’t see what the economic status of this student has to do with anything. I was not eligible for the draft during the Viet Nam war because I was a woman. Do you think that because I was not going to be drafted I had no right to speak out against the war ? Do you think that this individual’s sense of moral right and wrong must be linked to his father’s earning potential ?

    2. Barack Palin

      t should all be ignored… the same way parents should deal with a toodler throwing a tantrum.

      I agree.  I felt the Mizzou president and chancellor that resigned did the wrong thing and shouldn’t have given in to the adolescents.

      1. Frankly

        It was a community organizer Rules for Radicals play.  The academics disliked the fact that the university president was a non-academic business exec that was making changes to reduce university costs.

        So the university academics pulled their reliable racial agitation puppet strings… and the puppets responded.

        However, none of this would have resulted in the university president resigning had not the football leadership threatened to boycot a game…. and cost the university $1 million in revenue.

        The academics should take stock of the situation.  This time they got support from the powerful school athletic arm… but that power could just as easily turn against them.  And when that happens the academics and their student and media tools and fools will be put to REAL test.

        1. hpierce

          Uh, from what I’ve seen, the word POTENTIALLY should have been in your assertion, “and cost the university $1 million in revenue..,”.  the game will be played, and the money will follow.

          But why should anyone expect accuracy…

        2. Barack Palin

          Did you see the professors who were agitating it on and one in particular, Melissa Click, calling for ‘muscle’?    She tried to backtrack and apologize but it was too late, the video got her and she had to resign.

    3. Davis Progressive

      the kids have nothing to complain about?  how do you know?  do you know any of them?  the university offered at one point kids hope to a better life.  but the costs even to a uc have gone up, most of these kids will be saddled with huge debt for the rest of their lives.  black students are targeted by police especially in town and you guys keep wanting to ignore this or dismiss it.  you think these complaints are not real – how many kids came out last week?  how many are coming out today?  ignore at your own peril, i guess.

    4. Tia Will


      It should all be ignored… the same way parents should deal with a toodler throwing a tantrum.”

      It would seem that we also have some very different ideas on optimal parenting. I do not believe that the toddler who is throwing a tantrum should be ignored. I also don’t believe that they should be allowed to carry on with their tantrum if in public. I believe in redirection. This teaches the toddler that while his feelings may be legitimate ( and thus not ignored) there are much better ways to channel and deal with those feelings. There are better ways to both express the feelings and to enlist others in helping to solve whatever problem or situation has sparked the tantrum.

      Just like with a toddler, these students have not yet learned better methods for having their concerns considered and hopefully addressed. As adults, it is part of our job to acknowledge their concerns and their feelings, and help them to develop more productive channels for their efforts.  Simply disregarding everything they say is no more productive than is buying into everything they say uncritically.

      1. Barack Palin

        As adults, it is part of our job to acknowledge their concerns and their feelings, and help them to develop more productive channels for their efforts. 

        Tell that to the Mizzou president and chancellor who lost their jobs because these toddlers decided to throw a tantrum.

        1. Davis Progressive

          wolfe had several months to deal with escalating racial tensions and what did he do?  why is it acceptable that african-american students were repeatedly taunted with the “n” word?

        2. Barack Palin

          The president chose to resign

          He was basically forced out, you know that.  The children want someone of their choosing to be the next president so he had to go.

        3. Tia Will

          Tell that to the Mizzou president and chancellor who lost their jobs because these toddlers decided to throw a tantrum.”

          I do not believe that jobs were lost because ‘these toddlers decided to throw a tantrum”. I believe that the resignation and job change were results of a failure to address problems that were a long time in the making. Besides that, I do not think a tantrum would have had much of any effect if it were not for the threat of a loss of money which in and of itself says a great deal to me about the values involved.

  2. Anon

    Davis Stands with Ferguson organized last Tuesday’s protest on campus, calling for students, administrators, and campus police to take action about systemic racism and violence in our community.

    I am confused here.  What systemic racism and violence has taken place  on the UCD campus recently (in the past year)?

    we realized we must end our complicity with the following: private prisons; police intervention and militarization; and the continuing vilification and criminalization of the Black body.

    Complicity with private prisons?  Should the state shut down the prison systems and not jail criminals who assault or rob students?  Complicity with police intervention? Should cops not intervene when a student is being assaulted or robbed?  Complicity with police militarization? Should cops have to face armed robbers without weapons, or serve warrants on dangerous criminals without any armament, putting themselves in harm’s way without protection?  This protest is beyond silly, it is utterly asinine. Some students with intelligence should have framed the issues better, so the protest made more sense – common sense.

    For instance, there is certainly an argument to be made for more scrutiny of the excessive use of force by police.  But to expect police officers to handle situations involving armed robbery, etc. without weapons seems a bit daft.  Even London bobbies are being armed.  See: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1994-05-17/news/1994137144_1_london-patrol-officers-police-officers

    1. Miwok

      Yup, quit arresting people and the crime rate drops to zero.

      It is also tough when an org chart of this institution looks like a family tree.

      Pretty funny when the students go to a meeting with Police and claim to feel intimidated by them carrying guns, like the cops will shoot them?

  3. Davis Progressive

    “I am confused here.  What systemic racism and violence has taken place  on the UCD campus recently (in the past year)?”

    ignoring the vandalism, graffiti, the incident at woodstock’s, incident at the coffee house, the whole muslim-israeli blow up last winter, the complaint about the former student at the library, the complaint about the employee at the office of research, etc.

    i’m unclear on the private prison issue – that’s not something that’s happening in california, the rest is however.

        1. Frankly

          I am an unprotected victim.

          Being born politically incorrect.  Hated and despised just because of my race and skin tone.  Unable to leverage the emapthy, support and love that would overwise come my way if I was lucky enough to be part of one of the exclusive protected groups.

          On top of that, I had the misfortune of working too hard early in my career and thus reachibng a level of financial success that only adds to  my inability to secure any protected group membership.

          It does not matter that I was born and raised mostly by a divorced mother lacking a college education living in a single-wide trailer…  I would be much better respected if had been lucky enough to be of a protected race born into a millionare family that funded my higher-learning liberal indoctrination without me needing to work… and were I would just agitate for social justice and go on hunger strikes for attention.

          1. Matt Williams

            Frankly, you are only an unprotected victim if you constrain the timeframe under which your victimhood is analyzed. Assuming 25 years per generation, as a general rule it can be argued that a minimum timeframe for such a victimhood analysis should be 100 years given your current age … 50 years for you and 25 additional years for your father’s and grandfather’s generations. Given your statement above, your personal analysis would appear to fall outside the norm, but that is at the individual level. For every Frankly, there are thousands of others with very different life stories.

        2. Frankly

          Frankly, you are only an unprotected victim if you constrain the timeframe under which your victimhood is analyzed.

          This does not make sense to me.  You mean going back to when?  I don’t see any of my ansestors benefiting from belonging to any protected class.  More likely they were persecuted and independently persevered and thrived because of it.

          For every Frankly, there are thousands of others with very different life stories.

          Of course.  That is the point.  We should be just a bunch of people with different and unique life stories.  Not a bunch of groups pitted against each other for political reasons.

    1. Tia Will

      Davis Progressive

      that’s not something that’s happening in california”

      This is accurate, but does not tell the full story. The reason that it is not happening “in California” is because California sends it’s “surplus prisoners” out of state to be housed in private prisons in other states. I know this because of my very close association with a prison official who has on occasion had to go out of state to investigate incidents in out of state private prisons.

        1. Robert Canning

          Let’s get the facts straight here.

          The judges on the Three Judge Panel were federal district judges (Henderson and Karlton – admittedly liberal) and Stephen Reinhart of the 9th Circuit. The state started sending inmates to prisons in Arizona, Oklahoma, and Mississippi before the suit had progressed to trial. The judges never ordered the state to move inmates out of state. That was the Governor’s decision to reduce the overcrowding. They could have done other things – like Gov. Brown has chosen to do. The state’s population of inmates topped out at more than 172,000 inmates (greater than 200% of capacity) in 2006 and has declined ever since, particularly after 2011 when realignment took place. And it wasn’t just the Three Judge Panel. The Supreme Court (not exactly a liberal court) upheld the panel’s judgment that the state had to bring it’s prison population down to 137.5% of capacity.

          And many other states use private prisons because they do not have capacity in their own institutions  – Hawaii and others.

  4. Barack Palin

    ignoring the vandalism, graffiti, the incident at woodstock’s, incident at the coffee house, the whole muslim-israeli blow up last winter, the complaint about the former student at the library, the complaint about the employee at the office of research, etc.

    Trivial.  We have a population of 65,000 people plus many outside visitors.  I’d say that’s a damn good record.

    I’m waiting for the planted graffiti to magically appear, or for someone to claim they were called a name with no proof.  That’s how radicals roll.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i think the lesson of mizzou is somewhat different – they allowed issues to go unaddressed for months and things exploded on them.  therefore, the opposite is true.

        2. Tia Will


          I dislike haters.  They are generally not happy people”

          That made me laugh also, but I suspect for very different reasons. When you go on a rant about the emotionalism of others, you frequently use as your excuse for the rant that you were “angry” as though anger is not a reason destroying negative emotion ! You have also on several occasions stated that you “hate” President Obama. It would seem that your dislike of “haters” does not include yourself.

        3. Tia Will


          Do you want unrest?”

          I do not want unrest. But I do not want my peace and tranquility to be based on a system that is based on systemic inequality. The system we have now is fundamentally based on the existence and perpetuation of inequality. It seems to me that examining and addressing this issue is a worthwhile endeavor.

        4. Frankly

          You have also on several occasions stated that you “hate” President Obama.

          Well no.  I think I lost my cool one time and wrote that… but it was hating the policy not actually hating the man.  In fact, he and I are near the same age and play basketball and golf and smoke (him cigarettes, me the occasional cigar.)  I bet we would get along fine as just two men with completely different worldviews.

          I get angry at times but it just focuses my attention to rationalize the solve the puzzle.

          I generally recognize when emotions are clouding my objectivity.

          And there are few people that I actually hate.  Some of my favorite people are those I have the most idea-conflict with.  But there are some people, generally on the left of politics, that cannot handle idea-conflict and want to shut it down with hateful attacks.

    1. Tia Will



      You call this incidents trivial. I am probably just as white and just as rich as you are, and I see them as anything but trivial.  I could be wrong, but I doubt that you would consider it trivial if it were your door being “decorated” with human excrement or if encountered death threats from folks on social media who stated that they were going to “stand their ground” and shoot any blacks they saw.

      1. Miwok

        Yet many of us who feel ignorant have a desire to learn, and yet “enlightened ones” just keep the knowledge to themselves. I know as many people as I can who are in successful positions, and yet some of them seemed to have inherited their position and success in life, or had parents who engineered their success for them.

        therefore my comment about org charts and family trees.

  5. Misanthrop

    Frankly: “All that is mostly twadle for the hypersensitive and not indicative of significant racial issues, nor are they cause for any big discussion on race.”

    The great irony is that this statement comes from somebody who I recall once said they grew up in Columbia MO. This denial of the obvious is indicative of the self absorbed white mentality reflected by the administration at Mizzou that racism is not a big deal. Of course it isn’t to you because you are not a victim although you want to play one for being called out on your insensitivity.

    1. Frankly

      I was born there, but did not grow up there.

      Don’t be ridiculous.  It is BS.  We used to have real racism.  Terrible stuff.  Now we get “he looked at me cross eyed”.   Yes, I am insensitive to hypersensitivity.  It is a destructive force launched by the soldiers of the political left.  The only positive aspect of it is when it comes back to bite those soldiers of the political left in their posteriors.

      1. nomekopz

        “real racism” is alive and well, sir.

        You can see it in incarceration rates, in which blacks make up 13% of the population and 40% of those incarcerated

        You can see it in the distribution of wealth, in which the average black family owns 6% of the wealth of the average white family

        You can see it in hiring practices, in which a white male with a felony on his record is more likely to be hired than a black man with the exact same resume whose record is clean

        You can see it in school suspension and expulsion rates,in which black students make up 24% of the population, but 48% of suspensions and 49% of expulsions

        You can see it in traffic stops, in which a black driver is 31% more likely to be pulled over than a white driver for a minor traffic violation

        And finally, you can see it in police killings, in which black men are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by the cops than white men

        the problems are real and they are embarrassingly apparent to anyone who takes the time to do a simple google search.  the destructive force is not “the soldiers of the political left” but those who turn a blind eye, or worse downplay and consequently legitimize the widespread injustice that currently pervades American society,

        1. tribeUSA

          nomekopz–none of the statistics you cite demonstrate the presence of racism. There are many explanations for each of these statistics, including black culture, the value of education in black culture, the violent crime rate in black communities, racism, cultural prejudices etc. etc. etc.. So you have to go thru the process of teasing out the role of the numerous variables (very difficult for most social science statistics, since controlled experiments are difficult or impossible, among other reasons) for contributing to each such statistic as you cite. Racism is among the potential contributing factors, but there are a plethora of other factors which have influenced such statistics as you cite.

          I’m one of those who, after five decades of personal observations, has seen that it is one’s behavior (and to a lesser extent personal appearance and financial status) that is the dominant factor in how one is regarded by other people; though there are a small proportion of people for whom differences in race, cultural background, etc. are among the primary criteria by which they pre-judge other individuals-i.e. they are judged not so much as individuals, but as a member of that cultural group or race–so there is some racism, but it is exhibited by only a very small fraction of individuals from any race; futhermore most of what if commonly called racist viewpoints or behavior may be more accurately called cultural-ist. Unfortunately recently there has been a resurrection of identity politics and of steady reminders encouraging people to identify themselves and others as members of a particular race, which guarantees the continuance of some increased level of racial tension in society–yes, its a bit of conundrum.

          1. David Greenwald

            Your comment is a perfect illustration of the difficulty of this discussion going forward.

            1. Racism today does not look like the pre-1960s Jim Crow South
            2. The question is whether the issues that noemkopz has succinctly cited represent “racism” as either instutionalized through past practices embedded in present institutions or some form of unconcious bias
            3. Regardless these are serious issues and should not be met with the kid of dismissiveness and defensiveness that they are.

        2. Frankly

          Those damn Asian completely and inconveniently mess up this narrative.

          The bias is against behavior.  Black Lives Matter has done more to drive a deeper cultural wedge between blacks and others because of the behavior and words of those involved.

          Can you imagine the same from our Asian demographic?

          There are several causes of the problems you cite; racism plays a minor role.  Black anger and liberal’s exploitation of it is a primary root cause.

        3. Davis Progressive

          frankly: you’re basic argument is asians have made it, they are the model minority, and if they can make it, anyone can.  and anyone who hasn’t is by definition inferior or lazy or wants to stay oppressed in their victim status?

        4. nomekopz

          tribe USA- please explain to me how discrimination in hiring practices be explained by “black culture” because i really don’t see the link

          because i doubt you’ll actually click the link before responding, let me recap: the study is an experiment, where the black and white man have identical resumes, and are as similar in body type and mannerisms as they can get, but the white man has a felony listed and the black man a clean record- yet the white man is near 2x more likely to be hired.

      2. David Greenwald

        Interesting. My mother went to school there. In fact a lot of my family has. I’ve been there a few times to go to football games. One of the interesting things is as the university rebuilt their football program, they struggled to get kids from inner-city St. Louis to attend there. One reason for that is that the inner city kids did not feel comfortable in Boone County. It’s been a real challenge for the university even with recent success, many of the kids come from out of state. This is not something that just happened.

  6. Tia Will


    Racism is among the potential contributing factors”

    Once this has been acknowledged, we have gone a long way towards admitting that their are steps that the white community needs to take to address this issue. Other posters here have stated outright that they believe that all of the student complaints are “hooey” or “trivia” and that the students have “nothing to complain about”. This acknowledgement that racism is a one factor stands in stark contrast to these other statements which pretend that it has no validity at all. For those it does not affect, it seems to have no validity. I suspect it has a great deal of validity for those whom it affects directly.

    it is exhibited by only a very small fraction of individuals from any race”

    Even in your attempt at addressing the issue fairly by admitting the mulit-factorial nature, you state that racism is rare in our society today. While this may be true in your world ( as you honestly state citing only your 5 decades of observation as support) , there are many of our citizens for which this is not true. Our society is not homogenous and we are not treated equally. As much as some might like to have a homogenous society with their own beliefs accepted as the norm, that is not how our society has developed. This is  largely because of the actions of those in power, which historically in our country have been white males. Unfortunately these individuals did not see women nor people of other races as their equals and therefore designed processes that systematically treated these groups as inferior. We are living with the consequences of that unfortunate perspective today. Until this is acknowledged and addressed, rather than trivialized,  these issues of inequality will remain with us.

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