Students Vow To Stay Indefinitely Despite Potential Legal Action

The Chancellor's representatives deliver message to the students
The chancellor’s representatives deliver message to the students

Monday came and the students remain entrenched in the lobby on the fifth floor of Mrak Hall just outside the chancellor’s office. The elevators were locked down, trapping a member of the cleaning crew inside temporarily.

The student protesters received written notice from Vice-Chancellor David Lawler requesting them to “vacate the fifth floor” and warning that their “continued presence on the fifth floor also constitutes unauthorized entry to… or use of University properties and may also obstruct the administrative business of the University.”

The letter claims they are in violation of several sections of the University of California Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline. The letter goes on to state it is the university’s preference “that you leave the fifth floor voluntarily rather than sending a referral to the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs.” It warns that “if you choose not to do so, then I will to send (sic) a report of misconduct to OSSJA. Disciplinary consequences can range from a formal reprimand to probation, suspension, or dismissal.”

Just after 10 am on Monday, a representative from the chancellor’s office came to the fifth floor to state, “I have been informed by the chancellor that she would like for you to schedule a meeting to meet with her, and when you all do that, she will. She’s not coming here, she is going to meet with this group as she has done with other student groups.”


The students responded, “We’re not going to leave here until Chancellor Katehi comes here and talks to us about the resignation.”

“I will let her know that,” he responded. “But I want to be transparent and let you know that she’s not coming here to meet.”

The message from the students was simple, “We have nothing to say other than we are staying here and we won’t leave until Katehi comes here to speak and addresses her resignation.”

They also stated, “We wanted to let the media know that the police have been present and harassing a number of students that have come in and out of the building.” They also confirmed, “We have been threatened with SJA charges for continuing this occupation.”

“We think it’s ridiculous that Katehi doesn’t face any repercussions for the continued exploitation both of her privilege and position as chancellor and supposedly as a figurehead for the university, and yet students are just wanting to talk to her and express their righteous rage and concern over the fact that she’s continued to do these practices. Yet we’re the ones facing punitive justice by SJA,” they told the Vanguard.

The combination of heavy rains on Friday and finals week this week have kept the number of protesters relatively low. Estimates range from 35 to 50 students. That number seemed smaller on Monday morning.

However, a number of groups have expressed support for the student protesters’ actions.


The UC Student-Workers Unions issued a statement “reminding” members of the UC Davis community “that Linda Katehi has a history of involvement in corruption and influence peddling in higher education, dating back to her previous position at the University of Illinois.”

They said, “Katehi irreparably damaged her relationship with students and workers at UC Davis by ordering police violence against student protesters in 2011” and she “compromised her chancellor position by accepting a board appointment and would-be monetary compensation of $70,000 from for-profit educational outfit DeVry, whose goals are at odds with the mission of the University of California.”

The students and workers are protesting “to demand the firing of Katehi in light of these scandals, and demanding that her replacement be selected and approved by students and workers,” arguing that the chancellor “has demonstrated her disregard for the values of public education.”

They are calling on the Office of the Present and the UC Regents “to remove Katehi as Chancellor of UC Davis” and to create “a process of selection and approval of her replacement by a democratic council of students and workers.”

An “Alumni Letter of Support for Student Occupation of Mrak Hall” states, “We join these students in condemning Chancellor Katehi’s greed and complicity in the privatization of our education system. (Her termination or resignation is long overdue.) Most recently, we see her willingness to create relationships with these institutions for her personal gain. Moreover, she has a history of poor judgment, (ranging from lack of transparency, to militarization of campus). Katehi has consistently displayed qualities that a leader of a public organization should never have.”


In addition, “We condemn the administration’s attempts to unfairly punish the students involved in the occupation through the inherently unjust and undue process of Student Judicial Affairs. No student should have to spend their finals week advocating for their educational system, nor should they be punished or threatened with academic probation, expulsion, or suspension for doing so.”

The letter concludes, “We join these students in their call for the resignation of Chancellor Katehi.”

Finally this morning, in a statement from ASUCD, “The representatives of The Associated Students of the University of California, Davis, (ASUCD) support our fellow students, currently occupying the 5th floor of Mrak Hall. Their actions have been selfless, especially amidst the duress of finals week. We urge Chancellor Katehi to release an in person statement as soon as possible and address the needs of those students currently occupying Mrak Hall. The mental health, study time, and overall safety of the occupying students has been compromised as a result of the Chancellor’s delay.”

That letter is signed by Georgia Savage, Senate President Pro Tempore, Abhay Sandhu, ASUCD Vice President, and Alex Lee, ASUCD President.

In a statement from University Spokesperson Dana Topousis, it stated, “Chancellor Katehi respects the students’ rights of freedom of expression, and she encourages civil discourse.”

She added, “Representatives from Student Affairs communicated to the students on Friday that Chancellor Katehi would meet with them and requested they make an appointment; that offer remains open and was communicated to them again today.”

The Vanguard asked if the university would at some point initiate actions to remove the protesters from the building. Ms. Topousis stated, “Consistent with our normal practice, the students have been given a letter from a university administrator responsible for facilities notifying them of student code of conduct, and their need to comply with those standards.”

Police Chief Matt Carmichael did not return a call from the Vanguard on Monday morning.

The protesters told the Vanguard they are declining Chancellor Katehi’s invitation to meet because “we are not leaving until she resigns.” They also pointed out, “Anyone can schedule an appointment with the chancellor at any time. Obviously it doesn’t f-n’ work.”

For the student protesters, there is no outcome that works for them other than the chancellor resigning or being fired. And they vow to stay in Mrak Hall until that happens.

MRAK-Occupation-4 MRAK-Occupation-3 MRAK-Occupation-2

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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78 thoughts on “Students Vow To Stay Indefinitely Despite Potential Legal Action”

  1. Barack Palin

    Just call it a “safe space” and give the room to the 10 or so activists.  Isn’t that how it’s done these days on our nation’s campuses?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I was only shooting about half the room there.  The other side had an equally large contingent and there were some in front of me.  I would estimate about 25 to 30 in the room at that point.

    2. South of Davis

      BP wrote:

      > Just call it a “safe space” and give the room to the 10 or so activists.

      Since the politically connected Greek Billionaires that got Katehi the job know how to play the game and have so many friends on the left I would not be surprised if the activists are soon painted as anti-greek racists who are also misogynists trying to push a “poor” (now that she is making about $500K a year less) woman out of her job.

      Davis could learn a thing or two from the more “progressive” Bowdoin College:

  2. Tia Will

    What we have is the usual campus stand off. This is not just “these days”. I remember such protests and occupations with wildly improbable demands going back as far as the Viet Nam war. Both sides posture, threaten ( the students with the only power that they have namely the presence of their bodies) and the administration ( to ruin the academic career of the students) and nothing changes.

    I would make a very simple suggestion: Both sides stop posturing and address the real issues. To do this would first mean being willing to compromise on a meeting setting. The students drop the demand to meet in the lobby. Ms. Katehi drops the demand to meet on her usual calendar in her office. Both sides agree to a neutral agreed upon meeting place either on or off campus.

    Both sides would have to agree that neither Ms. Katehi’s resignation or firing, nor discipline by the SJA would be “on the table”. What would be on the table would be drafting a new approach to participation in these “extracurricular activities” for profit that might be used as an ethical model for the entire UC system of top administrators. True the students would not get all they want, and Ms. Katehi who would need to agree to full disclosure of whether or not she had participated in any more of these lucrative ventures ( rather than having them come out only when caught) might suffer some additional embarrassment. But there might be real gains in terms of future regulation of these kinds of activities for top administrators throughout the whole system and it would certainly help with the issue of transparency.

  3. gunrock

    I think it ridiculous to negotiate with terrorists.  The people involved need to be arrested at this point.  If they were students, they shouldn’t be any longer.  I would ensure that they are permenantly banned from participating in either the UC or Cal State system colleges.  They should each be personally billed for all costs associated with this little temper tantrum. They have vandalized the egg statues on campus, disrputed campus administration and wasted a huge amount of our time not out of some noble purpose but from a pathetic need for self-aggrandizement…

    1. The Pugilist

      Who is proposing negotiating?  The Chancellor offered to meet with them.  They are making one single demand – no one is going to meet that demand.  So I’m not following your point.  You would deprive them permanently of an education for protesting?  That seems rather Trumpian of you.

      1. gunrock

        They aren’t asking, they have physically moved into administration offices and cost the rest of the students time and money advocating a narrow and disruptive view. A terrorist uses other people to make their point when they can’t advance their views.  These people don’t have a legitimate role in the discussion so they have attempted to create one so they can “negotiate” from a position of strength.  They are criminal trespassers and need to be arrested.  And yes, I would absolutely remove them from an academic environment that they clearly have no respect for.  There is a long line of very qualified students who would love to have the opportunity to come to Davis.  Move them out and make some room.

        1. Tia Will


          cost the rest of the students time and money advocating a narrow and disruptive view.”

          What makes you think that this occupation of an administrative lobby has cost any other student either time or money ? I know that this has happened during other protests, but I see no evidence of that being the case this time. Do you have any information to support your claim ?

  4. Barack Palin

    I think the best course would be for the campus administrators to ignore them.  Like kids who throw tantrums if they’re are just ignored with no attention paid towards them they will soon fade away.

    1. The Pugilist

      It’s hard to ignore someone when they are occupying your office.  They made a reasonable offer to the protesters, the protesters have shown themselves to be incorrigible.  They are now doing a stare-down – UC doesn’t want to arrest them, the students don’t want to leave.  Who will blink first?

      1. South of Davis

        The Pulgist wrote:

        > Who will blink first?

        It would be funny to send in Officer Pike and see how many of the kids made a run for it and how many would stay for the cash (and activist street cred)…

      1. The Pugilist

        Well, I would say there is a reason for the joke, how can you tell when a politician is lying?  When their lips are moving.

        [moderator] Edited. Off topic.

    1. Don Shor

      He would never have gotten into the conflict of interest situation in the first place, and he would have promptly met with the protesters, and probably taken them all out for coffee.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          “Vice Chancellor John Meyer, who is in fact the person the campus police chief reports to”

          Pre-pepper spray.  They completely re-structure after the pepper spray.

        1. ryankelly

          They weren’t here to remember this amazing man who lead the University during the tumultuous times of the Vietnam War, battle over civil rights and the Free Speech movement.

          “He became Chancellor at the height of the period of student protest of the Vietnam War. His steady and non-confrontational handling of those protests at Davis was credited with preventing a very volatile situation from getting out of hand.”

        2. South of Davis

          Ryan wrote:

          > They weren’t here to remember this amazing man who

          > lead the University during the tumultuous times of the Vietnam

          > War, battle over civil rights and the Free Speech movement.

          It looks like the first Chancellor Meyer was still here when my younger sister went to Davis, but as Don mentioned we are all getting old and sorry if I thought you were talking about the most recent Chancellor Meyer (just like if someone posted about “Governor Brown” I would assume the current Governor Brown not the guy with the same last name who was Governor when UCD grads were getting sent to Vietnam)…

  5. Frankly

    If more students had to work part time to help them afford school, would we have as much of this and other seemingly frivolous and over-done protesting?

    And if the answer is no, God help us if Bernie Sanders is elected President.

        1. Tia Will


          Not if they are able to hang out in the Chancellor’s office for multiple days.  Unless they took a leave of absence or quit.”

          Not so Frankly. I was able to work, do class work and sill attend protests during the Viet Nam war days. It is all a matter of time management and as David mentioned, coordinating your efforts with those of other students.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I don’t have proof, I have anecdotes. I asked Sean Raycraft, he estimated well over half. My own experience is working with a few dozen students each year, it’s rare to find one not working. Remember, the cost of tuition is well over $10,000 a year, plus living expenses.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Well I respectfully disagree with you. I made a comment that I had evidence to support and I stand it by it. I don’t have proof, proof in my view is for mathematics and a court of law.

        2. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > I don’t have proof, I have anecdotes. I asked Sean Raycraft,

          > he estimated well over half. 

          Maybe he is counting the kids “paid to protest” (by both the right at left) as having “jobs”:

          > Remember, the cost of tuition is well over $10,000 a year,

          and remember unless your family makes under $80K+ you don’t have to pay it

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > Frankly: Almost all students now have to work at least part

        > time to afford school and living expenses.

        Do you have a link to something that backs this up?

        I worked at least 20 hours a week all through High School and College (40 hours a week + in the summers) and whenever this comes up talking to the parents of High School kids and College students in town most seem shocked.  I know some students work today including just about everyone going to “junior” colleges and “for profit” colleges but I don’t think it is even close to “almost all” or even “most” students in Davis (who attend Davis HS and UCD).

        I found this link that says 10% of University of California students work over 20 hours a week (up from 7% in 2013):

        I agree with Frankly and I’d bet that most (if not all) of the kids in Mrak Hall are not part of the 10% of UC kids that work 20 hours or more a week…

        1. hpierce

          I worked 30-40 hours a week, summers only, to afford college, even with a scholarship (tuition, not books), and parental support (Mom and Dad figured they’d have to feed me even if I didn’t go)… it was a stretch, anyhow… spouse, same (met in college).

          The only campus “demonstration” I participated in was to get Dave Mosher elected as “homecoming queen” [he was so “straight”], and he won (actually appeared on the Johnny Carson show!) when the sororities/frats revived a tradition that had been dormant for many years… back in the 70’s we actually talked/interacted with UCD admin. on important issues… had much success.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          First 2 years I didn’t work, worked every summer, worked last 3 years, never owned a car, computer, laptop, smart phone, didn’t buy records (dating myself), drugs, go skiing, or take spring break vacations. Saved like a banche to pay my way, never asked folks for money, frequented dollar a movie night, dollar a pitcher night, etc. I survived and had a lot of fun.

        3. Justice4All

          Its nice to know that people still perpetuate negative stereotypes of college students in this town. Its also nice to know that you had a good time in college, and you were able to work your way through. Good to know you did it without laptops and smart phones. Im glad that the good old days were good to you.  Thats great! Im glad. But that simply is not the reality anymore. The minimum wage is ten bucks an hour. At 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year that means your take home pay is about 15k. In a town where a one bedroom apartment is 1000-1100 a month. Its impossible to go to work your way through school now and not come out deep in debt.

          The fact is that the students are pissed that they are going deep into debt that they may never be able to fully repay, and the administrators are getting rich. Worse, they are seeing the quality of their education decline. In short, they are paying more, and getting less. Wouldnt you be pissed off too?

        4. South of Davis

          Justice4All wrote:

          > At 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year that means your take

          > home pay is about 15k.

          If you are not smart enough to make over $10/hour you are probably not smart enough to go to UCD.

          > In a town where a one bedroom apartment is 1000-1100 a

          > month.

          You can rent and/or share a room for much less than $1,000/month (I shared a room as an undergrad and had a roommate until I got married)

          > Its impossible to go to work your way through school now

          > and not come out deep in debt.

          If you don’t have a lot of money you can go to a JC for your GE and if you live modestly and work hard you can still graduate from UCD without debt.

          P.S. The diploma you get after 4 years at UCD is exactly the same as the one you get after paying next to nothing at a JC for two years and doing your final two years at UCD…

    1. hpierce

      And if the answer is no, God help us if Bernie Sanders is elected President.

      Off-topic, moderator (and yes, know my comment will be removed in its entirety, but Frankly’s will remain).

      If I thought my comment would remain, which I don’t, I’d comment as to who Satan would choose as president… but, no point, as this comment will be ‘moderated’/deleted…

  6. Misanthrop

    Why are they demanding a meeting with Katehi? They should be demanding a meeting with Napolitano.

    If they really wanted to get a meeting with Katehi they should offer to donate $1,000,000 dollars to the university and claim they want to meet with her to discuss how it would be used to benefit the administration of the university.

    I remember when there was a faculty vote on confidence/no confidence in a previous chancellor. Perhaps ASUCD should conduct such an advisory vote. I wonder how the faculty would vote on Katehi at this point.

    Everett Dirkson said about the college protestors of the 60’s “Let them yell pretty soon the will have mortgages.” Of the college kids of today I would say, let them yell they have mortgaged their futures to be here.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I don’t believe they are demanding a meeting with Katehi, although she apparently came by unannounced this afternoon and left after five minutes.

        1. Barack Palin

          Let’s deal in facts, not impressions.

          The students had demanded that the chancellor talk to them in person

          Katehi has offered to meet with students by appointment only. The students demand a meeting on their terms.


          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I was there when this happened. But as I understood the conversation the Vice Chancellor said that the Chancellor wanted to meet with them but wouldn’t come there. The students said they weren’t leaving and if the chancellor wanted to meet with them, she had to come there. I did not get the impression from that that the students were demanding to meet with her. In fact, I have the conversation on audio recording and quoted it in this article. The Enterprise and CBS 13 weren’t there when this conversation took place. I was.

        2. Justice4All

          They were demanding she come and talk to them, on equal ground. That means her office. Katehi came, refused to substantively answer their questions, or acknowledge the validity of their criticisms.

  7. David Greenwald Post author

    Update from UC Davis: “Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi met at 2 p.m. today with the students on the 5th floor of Mrak Hall to listen to their concerns. She offered to meet with them again this week to continue the discussion. ”

  8. Justice4All

    I am very disappointed in the infantile level of commentary in this thread. I will try and address these issues one by one.

    Firstly, many many many students work and go to school, I would say that well over half of non freshman work in some capacity. If you go downtown to eat, or to a grocery store or get coffee at a shop the people who serve you are almost always young people or college students. I personally went down to Mrak Hall many times, and every time I go in there, I see different people. Why is that? Well, the students rotate in and out. They have class, work, study time, or other issues they have to resolve at any given time. If you go in there at 10 am, and come back at three, you will see a very different crowd.

    Secondly, a good chunk of the dedicated activists are actually members of the grad student union, That means they are TA’s, meaning that by contract, they actually work at LEAST 2o hours a week.

    Thirdly, one of the trolls made the arrogant statement that goes something along the lines of “you dont have evidence to disprove my point”. Well, I hate to break it to you, but its YOU who are making the affirmative statement without evidence. The burden of proof is on YOU, not your critics. Fact is that students increasingly work one or even two jobs, and still graduate with 30k in debt. Its not because they arent frugal, its because their tuition is ridiculously high, the minimum wage is too low, and the cost of living in Davis is astronomical.

    I would just like to reiterate that the complaints of the students are legitimate. I am offended at the mere thought of for profit education. Im offended by the Chancellor hiring her husband to be a glorified secretary for her to the tune of 160k. Im offended by the idea that the Chancellor of our University is actively working for a for profit degree mill. My very conservative parents are offended by it and actually support the protesters, because they want to rid the system of corruption. If you arent offended by corruption, oppression, bad governance and greed, dont attack those who are.

        1. Barack Palin

          [moderator]Post edited.
          You have been told repeatedly to discuss moderation issues privately with me or with David. Any further discussion of moderation actions by you will be removed immediately.

          To repeat: Questions or comments about moderation of the Vanguard should always be directed to me at or to David at Moderation practices will not be discussed or debated on the Vanguard.

    1. South of Davis

      I agree with you (and the protesters) that the Chancellor (and her husband) need to go.

      What is the point of arguing the (false) statement that “almost all” UCD students work.

      If you look at my link above UC says that only about 10% work over 20 hours a week.

      If you talk to the people that keep track of student work at both DHS and UCD you will hear the number of students who work had been dropping over the past 30 years (while the number of students who have parents that pay for everything including late model cars has been increasing)…

      1. The Pugilist

        But how many work 10-20 hours?  10 hours?  That’s a huge bulk of the population.  I agree few probably work more than 20.  Also does that count how many work during the summer or only during the school year?

        1. The Pugilist

          Actually he provided evidence, not proof.  But it’s limited evidence since it only counts those who work more than twenty hours a week, rather than everyone which we still don’t know what number it is and is the point in question.

        2. South of Davis

          The Pulgilist wrote:

          > Actually he provided evidence, not proof.

          For anyone that wants more evidence go to DHS or UCD this afternoon and ask the first 10 kids you see and you will discover that (unlike what David and Justice4All seem to think) that “almost all” don’t work…

          > Also does that count how many work during the

          > summer or only during the school year?

          The point was that post of the students protesting TODAY (not in the summer) are not taking time off work.

    2. Napoleon Pig IV


      Your points about corruption and about the Chancellor and her husband are good. However, the commentary on this thread is not infantile. Rather, the commentary is normal dialog among people with varying degrees of knowledge and varying opinions, some of whom are open-minded, some of whom are well-educated, and some of whom are neither.

      Effecting change requires patience, including patience with people who have no passion but whose passive acceptance or disinterested support is essential to empowering those who must foster and implement the change.

      I assume from the tone and content of your observations that you are young, idealistic, and somewhat naive. I commend your overall effort and commitment, but remind you that sheep, at least as much as pigs and goats, have an important role to play in a healthy barnyard, and engaging effectively with them requires patience and good humor.


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