Protesters’ Response to Vice Chancellor’s Email

Photo of protesters on March 14
Photo of protesters on March 14

In response to the latest email from UCD administration regarding the sit-in protest of the chancellor’s office:

The protesters on the 5th floor of Mrak Hall find it important to respond to the latest email from UCD administration regarding our protest. Provost Hexter emphasized the discomfort of the employees on the floor of the sit-in, demonizing non-reformist protest to ground his complaints. It is true our group does not comply with the usual code of conduct “offered” by the policies of “free speech” and “protest.”

To respond to specific points, such as the “odors emanating from the protesters’ food and the garbage they leave behind, which is also an additional burden on the custodial staff,” we have collectively made efforts to maintain a clean environment; we have regular cleaning sprees, sort through our garbage, work with the nighttime custodial staff, and attempt to execute a system of cleanliness. That being said, we are students, community members, and campus employees and we have just as many responsibilities as the next campus affiliate. Sometimes, shit stinks, but we’re people too and have respect for ourselves and for others; we are HUMANS, not the animals and degenerates administration paints us to be.

The second point we find crucial to address is the reported lack of safety staff experience in entering our bathrooms. Intentionally transforming the restrooms to be gender inclusive makes for a safe environment for our non-binary, genderqueer, and trans* activists. The staff’s documented removal of our gender-neutral bathroom signs represents a lack of administration prioritizing inclusivity. Their apprehension to enter these bathrooms are not a result of our “harassment” but an indication of UC Davis transphobia.

If we are making these UCD employees who make 5-6 figure salaries uncomfortable, then we are continuing to uphold part of our mission. We refuse to abide by the status quo. We won’t go home,

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we won’t be silent, we won’t negotiate our demands. The protesters camping out on the 5th floor of Mrak refute any complaints grounded in a logic of “respectability,” i.e. “the protesters are not respectful towards the chancellor.”

We do not respect administration’s complicity with the general degradation and privatization of our public education. It is important we articulate this again to respond to and combat the tone and complaints by the provost. We want to emphasize that we have been maintaining a now 28-day sit-in because we are deeply concerned about the way our university is being run. We are forcefully inserting ourselves because student and worker voices should be at the center of how a university is run. We have been in the office of the chancellor for 28 days because we believe we can positively reassert the student-worker voice, not because we enjoy sleeping in Mrak Hall.

We also want to address the rhetoric of this as an “occupation” used by the provost as well as by ourselves. We recognize that we have not worked hard enough towards decolonizing our protest, and have then perpetuated the invisibility of Patwin people and land and Indigenous students, workers, and community members on this campus. We encourage other critiques of inclusivity and space from individuals who share our concerns with the privatization and neoliberalization of the UC.

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  1. Barack Palin

    Their apprehension to enter these bathrooms and are not a result of our “harassment” but an indication of UC Davis transphobia.

    I strongly disagree.  When staff end up with their photo or a video of them at the door of a public restroom being posted to Facebook with several demeaning comments posted I and I’m sure others view that as harassment.

    1. David Greenwald

      As I understand it – the photos were of staff taking down the posted signs. I don’t really understand what the staff expected would happen when they did that or why they felt the need to do so.

      1. Barack Palin

        First of all it’s not up to the students to declare the restroom policy at MRAK Hall.  Just putting a piece of paper on a door doesn’t change the rules.

        But that aside, I don’t think staff expected to have their pictures posted on Facebook with comments like these:

        {comments remove}

        David, do you find these comments offensive and harassing?  I don’t know how anyone can downplay or justify this.

        1. David Greenwald

          You’re correct the students do not make the restroom policy, but it’s essentially a secondary protest and the staff decision to remove the signs served no real repurpose other than to increase the tensions.

          I’m taking down the comments, they are not appropriate. You can link them, but that language is not permissible per our comments policy.

        2. Barack Palin

          Yes, some of the comments were very vile and harassing.  David, would you feel intimidated if your photo was posted to the Internet with awful comments?  Would you use the restroom if you felt harassed because of your picture and those comments posted on Facebook?

          1. David Greenwald

            My view is that they should have used better judgment than to put themselves in the middle of the protest. Again I ask what purpose they thought it would serve other than to inflame the situation?

        3. Barack Palin

          You just won’t answer will you?  You have to dodge and deflect.  Let’s not kid ourselves, if the shoe were on the other foot and staff had posted pics of the student activists on the Internet with subsequent vile comments like the ones you deleted above in my opinion you would’ve been all over it.

          1. David Greenwald

            Your questions are jumping ahead a few steps, the thing to understand here is that there was a protest, part of that protest dealt with the bathrooms, the staff chose to intercede and escalate things by removing the sings – to what purpose?

      2. hpierce

        Right… staff wasn’t “thinking” when they removed the signs… they should have just given into the “mob”… let them have their way… “empower” them… real good advice for anyone dealing with someone who would harass and/or bully…

        1. Tia Will


          Right… staff wasn’t “thinking” when they removed the signs… they should have just given into the “mob”… let them have their way… “empower” them… real good advice for anyone dealing with someone who would harass and/or bully…”

          It would seem that we have different interpretations of what constitutes bullying and what constitutes “giving in”. I see the posting of the gender neutral signs as a rather harmless, if short sided and distracting action. Rather than  taking them down in full view of those who placed them, thus needlessly creating confrontation, better alternatives in my view would have been: 1) ignore them as the trivia they were in comparison to the big issues being addressed. 2) Take them down out of view of the camera 3) Ask housekeeping to take them down and remove them as they would any other piece of out of place paper in a restroom.

          So many alternatives available that would not provoke further aggressive behavior from a group of students who obviously are already have difficulty keeping their eyes on the big picture.

        2. Barack Palin

          Yes, everyone has to tread softly around the student activists because we dare not rile them up.  Give in to all of their demands because these 15 or so activists know what’s best for the entire UCD campus.

    2. sisterhood

      I agree that the behavior is transphobic.

      The staff members are aware they are living in the age of social media, and probably knew exactly what they were doing.

      Shame on them.

  2. ContextMatters

    The staff person was removing a bathroom sign as s/he entered. The students were completely insensitive. They also seem to thing that a “5 figure income” of $25,000-$45,000 somehow makes staff the enemy. I can assure you, that is not enough to live on in CA.

    These students act entitled. The very thing they claim to oppose. I suspect many – if not all – receive financial aid. They are not interested in lobbying the legislature at a critical time for the benefit of all students. They are only interested in embarrassing the administration.

    David, this piling on of the Chancellor that you have allowed in the Vanguard resembles much of what is written in this article:

    It is very insightful that – in your Sunday musings, there is not one word about this column:

        1. ContextMatters

          “we printed Hexter’s letter yesterday, the student response today.”

          Perhaps in the interest of balanced coverage, you could actually reach out to him. He is a student.

      1. ContextMatters

        This has nothing to do with the post at hand and quite frankly seems threatening toward me. I have said nothing inflammatory, nor have I expressed an opinion about public records (which I believe should be provided).

        1. David Greenwald

          How is that threatening to you? A PRA suit is an administrative action. Even if you were the custodian of records for the university, you’d face no personal exposure. It’s relevant because you accuse me of piling on, but in reality the university is preventing the media from doing its job.

        2. ContextMatters

          Why is this relevant to the current stream? As I said, your comment had nothing to do with the post at hand. I did not express any opinion about public records (which I believe should be provided).

          As a matter of clarification, pursuing a public records release is usually done to force release of records you believe will taint the credibility of whoever the records are being released from. While I think UC should release these records, I don’t this discussion has much to do with countering the ‘piling on’ comment. It is a side stream.

          As has been expressed in other columns, if you are going to post your opinions on your news site, please be responsive to the issue being discussed.

    1. Tia Will


      I read both of your links and have the following thoughts :

      1. The main reason that I continue on the editorial board of the Vanguard and as a frequent poster is my sense that all voices are welcome here. We have a range of beliefs represented from my democratic socialist views to those of some self avowed Randians. If most of the comments are from those on the left, that is a reflection of who chooses to write, not the editorial or censorship position of the Vanguard which accepts all articles and posts that meet the guidelines. Some posters choose anonymity, some post under their own names, but the choice is always that of the individual, not the Vanguard.

      2. With regard to Mr. Palm’s comments about Chancellor Katehi, I believe that he is attributing far too much to her income generating abilities while completely ignoring the efforts of those whose job it is to do the actual fund raising. He also chooses to ignore the overall impact of her repetitive instances of poor judgement over her tenure here. How many instances of poor judgement followed by apology do we tolerate before we encourage her to move to a private institution where her world view would be more compatible with the mission of the institution ?

      1. ContextMatters

        Just to be clear,

        1) Your point about the diversity of posters is well taken. However, it can also lead to a ‘piling on’, which was my main point. When piling on occurs, we should look for ways to exit the echo chamber.

        2) Mr. Palm’s editorial has exactly one sentence about fundraising and it is in the context of his calculating the loss of fundraising dollars versus not including the cost of medical salaries in the math. 

        Fundraising is considered the most important job of a Chancellor in the UC. It is a major part of how they are reviewed; I have heard faculty/students/staff all express that it is their highest priority. You are confusing the Chancellor’s duties with those of the Provost, who is responsible for the day to day management of the campus. This is why balanced and knowledgeable reporting is essential.

        1. Tia Will


          You are correct that I lack knowledge regarding the specifics of the roles of the Chancellor and Provost. However, I would make two points with regard to the performance of Ms. Katehi in her role, both of which I believe call her judgement into question.

          The first was her handling of the pepper spray incident in which her judgment ( or lack thereof) was instrumental in the mistreatment of peaceful protesters and could certainly be interpreted as part of the “day to day management of the campus”.

          The second relates to her use of funds available through her board participation that could have been put towards university “fund raising” but which she chose to allocate to her personal wealth enhancement. While it is true that this was allowable, it was not mandatory, and in my opinion was unethical and hopefully will lead to a system wide review of this practice.

  3. Tia Will

    As any protest drags on, it is easy to become distracted by the side issues that inevitably arise. Some people are  unreasonable to begin with ( such as the demand that Chancellor Katehi resign as an ultimatum), some people will create side issues ( the bathroom signs and food smells), while others will claim that their rights are being violated ( ignoring the fact that leadership actions are creating far more damage to California students “right” to a free or low cost public university education).

    We are forcefully inserting ourselves because student and worker voices should be at the center of how a university is run.”

    If they had included the word “public”, I would agree completely with this statement. I find it interesting to consider this statement in view of the information contained in Jerika’s article today on the increasing student costs to attend the university, the decreasing public spending on their education, at the same time as the dramatic rise in administrator compensation. This alone would, for me, indicate the need for a drastic revision of how the university chooses to use its funds. Should we be further enriching the already wealthy and powerful, or focusing on the provision of public education to those who qualify within the state of California ?  Instead of a system designed to reward the rich and powerful, we need to be focusing on how to provide free resident education as stated as the founding mission of the university. It seems to me that MRAK Hall, as the location of the office  of Chancellor Katehi, who stands as the current poster child for this egregious self enrichment scheme prevalent amongst the UC upper management is an entirely appropriate place for what I hope will be just the beginning of a very close look at this practice of enriching the top administrators while consigning the students to what amounts to years of indentured servitude ( loans). Perhaps this protest will serve as a nidus for long overdue change at a systemic level.

    If so, a few transient smells, Facebook photos, and angry / insulting words ( of which I do not approve from anyone) will seem very small by comparison.



    1. ContextMatters

      I would urge you to read this column:

      If his numbers are correct, eliminating all of the administrative costs would make very little difference to the students.

      The blame for continued erosion of the UC belongs to everyone who has opposed taxes. It would take as little as $31/year from each of us to continue to support students as they were supported in the past.

      It is shameful that current generations of wealthy Californians have not said to the legislature that the university system that those before them built – including the community colleges, the state system and the UCs – have been allowed to decline so precipitously in state provided student funding.

      1. Frankly

        Let me guess, you are a state government employee, or come from a family of state government employees.

        You only part of this right, and you don’t tie it together.  Yes, the state has reduced the amount of money going to higher learning, but college cost per student have also increased far greater than the rate of inflation every year for the last 30 years.

        And the reduction in state money and the hyper-inflation of state college spending is all the same root cause.  It is the bloat in numbers and the level of total compensation we are paying state government employees, including the cost of the asinine practice of allowing most of them to retire in their 50s with 70-90% of their top compensation, inflation-adjusted… and their full health care paid for too… for their rest of their lives.

        It is a choice we voters have made.  We have voted in the candidates that are beholden to the state employee unions and associations, and those politicians kept paying back the favors until, like always happens in these situations, we started running out of other people’s money.

        Then we started raising taxes until we became full-leveraged with the highest taxes in the country while the politicians also hid the fact that we were running terrific deficits will all this over-spending on government labor.

        We are heading for a fiscal cliff and the increased cost of tuition in only one of the early signs.

        We cannot tax our way out of it.  We have already tried.

        I think you know what the solution is, but my guess is that you or someone in your family is already has, or is eying that early government retirement bonanza.

      2. Tia Will


        If his numbers are correct, eliminating all of the administrative costs would make very little difference to the students.”

        I read the column and I think that there is a bigger issue here.

        Even if his numbers are correct, the issue of symbolism, contribution, and the public education mission of the university are not being taken into account. For me, part of the mission of a public university is to educate in one’s chosen field. Another part of the mission is to model exemplary behavior for the students.  I have no problem with those who lead private institutions from modeling a “get as rich as you possibly can” model for their students. I take huge exception to this philosophy being modeled by our public institutions which in my view should be representing and modeling best public institution practices, not how best to privatize a public university.

        With the rest of your comment, I am in complete agreement. Some on this blog have accused me of being a “tax and spend” liberal. Guilty as charged. I am a firm believer that we should be willing to pay to support the public institutions that we desire and I for one am willing to pay much more to support our public schools at all levels.

  4. ryankelly

    Now that the students have been made aware of the problems that their squatting is causing for clerical staff and janitors, they should try to do a better job of treating people with respect and cleaning up after themselves.  It is not a good strategy to demean staff for complaining about the difficult work environment the students are creating.  I really don’t understand the bathroom issue.  They put up a paper sign, staff take it down, they call the staff horrible names.  This is unwise.

  5. Tia Will


    Yes, that’s like letting your child always have their way.  We all know how that ends up working out.”

    There are many ways of teaching your child how to behave. One does not have to “always let the child have their way” in order to consider how one’s own behavior may have led to  the child’s misbehavior, or how one might teach the child best by acting like an adult oneself and thus teaching/leading by example.

    If the supposed adult in the room, the Chancellor had not yet again “misbehaved”, this protest would not have occurred in the first place.

    If the administrative staff were consistently to behave better than the students ( who are in fact on campus to learn – not only their own disciplines, but how to most effectively act in our society) they would, in my opinion be providing an example of effective collaborative behavior rather than further provoking an inexperienced, unfocused group of protestors.

    1. Barack Palin

      Another deflection.  The conversation was about the apparent harassment of the ladies taking down the restroom signs and somehow it all gets turned back as Katehi’s fault, not the student activists.

      So anything that ever happens on campus is Katehi’s fault because of supposed bad behavior on some issues.  I get it.

    2. ContextMatters

      There are lessons every parent should teach their children and knowing “how to behave…” is one of them.

      These lessons should happen before they attend the university. The faculty and staff are not parents.

      I have no idea how you can blame low wage staff following culturally acceptable rules for the use of bathrooms for how the students _decided_ to act toward them.

  6. Tia Will


    My point was that you completely disregarded the entirety of the article on the basis of one sentence, which you took out of context.”

    Or, one could see it as me responding to the portion of the article that resonated most strongly with me at the moment. My partner, and some posters here, have accused me of commenting far too much….I am rarely criticized for my omissions. It is actually a little refreshing ; )

  7. Frankly

    This is exactly what Roger Kimball meant when he penned “The Rise of the College Crybullies.”

    We have created a bunch of little monsters that believe, because they either belong to a sanctioned victims group… or because they believe they are part of the ideological group that aligns themselves with victims groups… that they can misbehave without consequence in the name of civil disobedience for cause… no matter how silly and immaterial the cause.

    I should go down there a talk to [them] about how they if they get arrested and charged for crimes resulting from their civil disobedience, they will earn a lifetime of exclusion from a whole a lot of top-end government benefits.  For example, no SBA loans for you!

    Shame on the adults that condone their behavior.
    [moderator: edited for language.

  8. Tia Will


    I have no idea how you can blame low wage staff following culturally acceptable rules for the use of bathrooms for how the students _decided_ to act toward them”

    Maybe I can clarify. I am a firm believer that every adult individual is fully responsible for their own actions. I am not “blaming” anyone. What I am doing is pointing out how the entirety of the situation could have initially been prevented ( the Chancellor using better judgment), and then how, once the action was precipitated, how both sides could have minimized the conflict. Namely the protestors could have stayed on message, attempted to minimize their intrusiveness and consistently cleaned up after themselves. The affected employees regardless of their compensation package could have attempted to handle the situation with professionalism and grace rather than provoking and complaining about minor annoyances ( food smells….really !). I think that there is plenty of room for improvement on all sides here.

  9. shane

    “My view is don’t intervene in a protest- you risk escalating things which is what happened.”

    Give me just a little break.  This was supposed to be a protest about the Chancellor serving on the board of DeVry University, which naturally morphed into questions about the propriety of Chancellors having contemporaneous outside income.  Fair enough.  But it now gone astray into completely unrelated areas (confiscation of Patwin land, high tuition, gender-neutral restrooms, not supporting the BDS movement, and so on).  There are certain obvious facts that the students choose to ignore: that the land confiscation began long before LK became Chancellor; that high tuition arises with UCOP and the legislature, not chancellors; that UC Davis has more gender-neutral restrooms (soon 120 out of 1200) than any other UC campus; and that the BDS movement has not been endorsed by any American university.  What is relevant to many people who work at UC Davis is that all people should have a right to privacy when it comes to using public restrooms.  Students occupying Mrak Hall can no more arbitrarily re-designate restroom as gender-neutral as they can for any restroom on campus, or for that matter anywhere.  People using such restrooms may legitimately feel uncomfortable with people of the opposite using them; it doesn’t make them trans-phobic, which is a rather evil and false implication.  They don’t deserve to be vilified or humiliated or have their photos publicly distributed, and the Vanguard has been complicit in doing this (and amazingly is still defending its puscillanimous action, while it readily removes inappropriate comments).  Staff haven’t been taking down the signs anymore because they don’t want to feel threatened or harassed anymore.  This isn’t a focused protest about administrative excesses anymore – it’s about a group of students mad about a whole lot of things that are using this chancellor as an excuse to vent their vitriol and get as much attention as possible.  Whatever respect I had for their initial cause has evaporated with their abusive, disrespectful, harassing, and illogical behavior.

    1. Barack Palin

      Well stated Shane.  I can’t believe we actually have commenters trying to defend the posting of staff pictures on the Internet and whatever disgusting comments that happen to come in their direction they somehow perpetuated the problem themselves.

        1. Barack Palin

          Shane, I’m with you on this and after seeing the vile remarks on Facebook directed at the staff member the gender neutral restroom agenda basically shot itself in the foot.

    2. Tia Will


      Whatever respect I had for their initial cause has evaporated with their abusive, disrespectful, harassing, and illogical behavior.”

      And this I think is a real shame. I personally believe that the protestors have some legitimate concerns for which this is the appropriate venue,  some other concerns that are as you have stated either misdirected or deserving of consideration in another venue and some I probably would just not take up. However, perhaps that fact that distractions like these can serve to distract or cause people to lose respect for their “cause” as opposed to their “tactics” could serve as an educational point for some. While I believe that consideration of cause and tactics should remain separated, I am aware from many years of protest of many different issues starting with the Viet Nam War that there are many who do not choose to make this distinction.

  10. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > My view is that they should have used better judgment than to put

    > themselves in the middle of the protest. Again I ask what purpose

    > they thought it would serve other than to inflame the situation?

    If some anti-immigration protesters put a big “Support Trump, Build a Wall” sign on the back window your car would you take the sign off your car or “use better judgement since removing it would do nothing other than inflame the situation”?

    P.S. I find it ironic that Davis is supporting people posting stuff on Facebook that he won’t even post on his blog…

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > I’m not supporting what was posted on Facebook.

        > Where did I say I was?

        Where does “I find it ironic that David is supporting PEOPLE posting stuff on Facebook that he won’t even post on his blog…” say that you are “supporting what was posted on Facebook”

        Simple questions:

        1. Do you support the PEOPLE protesting in Mrak Hall?

        2. Would you ever remove a PROTEST sign (and risk inflaming the situation)?

        1. David Greenwald

          1. I have taken no stand on the first
          2. I would never in my capacity as a journalist interfere in a protest by removing a sign or other means. I think you make a huge mistake if you are an employee by inserting yourself into the fray. They should have left the signs alone. I still don’t understand what purpose that served. If they weren’t comfortable using the toilets with the signage that way (which seems odd to me), then they should have gone to the fourth floor. I get inconvenience, but having protesters on the Fifth Floor is inconvenient anyway.

        2. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > I would never in my capacity as a journalist

          > interfere in a protest by removing a sign 

          So are you telling all of us that if I [find your address] and “protest” your left of center posts with a TRUMP sign on your front lawn that you would not remove it (until Hillary is president)?

          [moderator] removed personal info.

  11. Alan Miller

    We recognize that we have not worked hard enough towards decolonizing our protest

    Can someone from the protest explain what this means?  I know from the following statements it has to do with comparison to the various colonizations of Spanish and then US settlers of the area, but I’m not sure what ‘decolonizing our protest’ actually means (or would entail).  I mean this as an honest question.  Often the rhetoric used by certain groups is used by a narrow group of people and must be explained to those who don’t use the terminology to be understood.  As written it seemed to me a separate and fragmented thought rather than a strong conclusion to what was said above.

    Please I’m not asking others to say what they think it means (as so often happens in Vanguard comments) — I’m asking someone who is from the movement to explain it.

    1. Alan Miller


      . . . . . OK, hearing nothing on this from the protestors, I now invite wild speculation of what it means from Vanguard commenters. . . .

      1. Barack Palin

        No clue.  Hell I just recently learned what ‘cisprivilege’ referred to and I never knew of the Patwin peoples plight.  Makes me wonder what they’re teaching at college these days.

  12. Barack Palin

    I found many more public posts on Facebook that I found to be thoroughly disgusting concerning the MRAK Hall restroom incidents with pics posted of the two unfortunate ladies who happened to get caught up in this.

    Go to Facebook

    In search type in    ‪#‎endbathroomsegregation‬

    Click on the comments under each post



  13. shane

    David Greenwald: Whether or not you support what is on Facebook, the images that you posted exemplify cyber-bullying / cyber-lynching / cyber-shaming. Whether you support the protestors, don’t support them, or are neutral, you should do the right thing and take them down.  They’ve done enough damage.

    1. Barack Palin

      Shane, I feel really bad for these women.  They don’t deserve the harassment they’re being subjected to for simply trying to use a restroom as it was meant to be labelled and not what some small group of activists think it should be.

    2. David Greenwald

      I’m sorry I see it somewhat differently. First of all, it was not my article. We received a formal request from the university, I discussed it with the reporter who wrote the article and decided to leave the images and video up. In terms of the images, they are not of someone simply using the facility, but taking down the signage, which meant that they were inserting themselves into the protest. To me, that served no good purpose to do that.

  14. Barack Palin

    I’m also sorry but I see this quite differently.  These ladies wanted to use the restroom for what it’s officially designated for and had all the right in the world to take down a temporary sign that a few activists decided to put up.  They didn’t deserve to be video taped or have their pictures put on the Internet with all the vile disgusting comments that followed.  I’m not a lawyer but I have to wonder if they might have a case for harassment or character assassination or something along those lines.  Any lawyers care to weigh in?

  15. shane

    You keep referring to them as “inserting themselves into the protest.”  The staff members just wanted to use the women’s restroom without fear of harassment.  They didn’t want men going in while they were in there.  What does any of this have to do with a protest about the Chancellor?

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