Student Letter Opposing the Occupation

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MRAK-OccupationWe the undersigned are students, staff and faculty who are writing out of concern about the events that have unfolded as a part of the Mrak Hall occupation.  Some of us agree with the broader issues of the protesters like greater transparency and more dialogue between the students and campus administration.  But we write to strongly condemn the tactics of the protesters, including sexist and racist behaviors, threatening and bullying of staff, students and faculty who come to Mrak Hall to work. We feel that these actions undermine not only the values of our campus community, but also the ideals which the protesters claim to defend.

Several students and staff have been treated abusively by the protesters.  Several protesters took to shouting that an employee was a “coconut” (brown on the outside, white on the inside) for being a Latina who works for UC Davis.  Several students and staff were stalked for a period of time after leaving a meeting with the Chancellor.  Many students and staff who are supposed to work in Mrak no longer feel safe. Staff and student workers have been also filmed without their permission. For the sake of the daily operations of UC Davis, we call upon the Mrak Hall protesters to move their protest to a location that does not lead to these aggressive disruptions of UC staff and student work spaces in case they have plans to continue this protest.

The administration has also committed to addressing conflict of interest issues more transparently.  Beyond this, what is the real goal of this protest?  Day by day more staff and students are harassed as they merely commute to their offices to do the work that supports the primary mission of this institution: teaching, research and public service. We feel that this protest has lost its purpose and is dividing the campus community. The protest has fostered a hostile climate on UC Davis campus. We want to see a united campus and not a divided campus.   The reality is that Chancellor Katehi’s resignation will not solve the problems of privatization.

The tactics of the protesters to aggressively and abrasively silence other students, staff and faculty with whom they do not share the same opinion is hypocritical, abusive and contrary to the ideals of our institution, which fosters free and open debate.  We call upon the Mrak Hall protesters to ‘walk the walk’ and engage the broader campus community in a dialogue on the legitimate issues of transparency, privatization and reform.  By dialogue we do not mean acquiescing to the Chancellor’s or Regents’ opinion.  Rather, we would like to encourage the protesters and the rest of the campus community to have a constructive dialogue in an environment that is not hostile, aggressive and threatening to those with whom they do not share an opinion.

Undersigned (listed alphabetically):

Jonathan Ashby
Postdoctoral Researcher, Chemistry

Rose Cabral
Alumn, Sociology and Communications

Aaron Fackler
PhD Candidate, Transportation Technology & Policy

Olivia Filbrandt
Juris Doctorate Candidate, Law School

Gabrielle Names
PhD Student, Animal Behavior Group

Matthew Palm
Doctoral Candidate, Geography Graduate Group

Kruthika Ramesh
Undergraduate Student

Roxanne Strohmeier, MPH
Juris Doctorate Candidate, Law School

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25 thoughts on “Student Letter Opposing the Occupation”

  1. Barack Palin

    But we write to strongly condemn the tactics of the protesters, including sexist and racist behaviors, threatening and bullying of staff, students and faculty who come to Mrak Hall to work.

    Several students and staff have been treated abusively by the protesters.  Several protesters took to shouting that an employee was a “coconut” (brown on the outside, white on the inside) for being a Latina who works for UC Davis.

    The tactics of the protesters to aggressively and abrasively silence other students, staff and faculty with whom they do not share the same opinion is hypocritical, abusive and contrary to the ideals of our institution,

    They sound like a bunch bullies.  Aren’t we trying stop bullying at our schools?

    1. Alan Miller

      It is OK to be hypocritical and bullying when you are certain you are correct.

      I don’t know if this is a couple of D-bags or if this is how the group as a whole is behaving.  The problem with any long protest that doesn’t focus on resolution and singularity of purpose, but rather on conflict and acting out, will devolve and destroy itself.  I want Katehi driven out of UCD, so protestors — stay focused, and treat the employees and students with respect, and let them know you have reigned in you internal D-bags . . .

      . . . or you will fail in your primary goal.

      1. South of Davis

        Alan wrote:

        > It is OK to be hypocritical and bullying when you are certain you are correct.

        It is actually just “OK to be hypocritical and bullying when you are certain you are left of center” if the races were reversed in the video below from last week we would have a white girl looking for a new school:

        http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/White-SF-St-student-with-dreads-accused-of-7215259.php

        It is sad that a bunch of kids who had a lot valid things to protest about how the Chancellor is running the school have lowered themselves to bulling ladies (who don’t want guys in woman’s bathroom) coconuts (who they don’t think act “brown enough”) and oreo’s (who they don’t think act “black enough”)…

        1. Barack Palin

          SOD, that’s an amazing video.  That black student should be suspended and possibly kicked off the campus.  Talk about bullying.  Can you imagine a white student confronting a black student who had straightened their hair?  Where’s the outrage over that incident?

        2. hpierce

          Looks to me like that video was “staged”.. the young lady kept cracking smiles… from language, intonations, body english, etc., looks like it was “scripted”…

    2. The Pugilist

      Doesn’t there need to be a power discrepancy in order to be a bully?  Someone fighting against the power establishment is not a bully, by definition.

      1. Barack Palin

        Did you read the examples of them bullying students and staff?  How about confronting people when they use the restrooms for taking off the gender neutral signs?

        Someone fighting against the power establishment is not a bully, by definition.

        Maybe your definition, but not by the examples cited in the article.

        1. The Pugilist

          My question is the specific use of the term “bullying” rather than whether the behavior in question – if accurate – is appropriate.

      2. hpierce

        Sounds like you haven’t dealt much with bullies… sometimes those with the’perceived power’ can bully, but if you have the power, you generally don’t have to bully.  Most bullies actually perceive themselves as weak, and bully to assert power they actually don’t have.  That’s why confronting a bully, particularly by one who is being ‘bullied’, is often very effective, as they deny the bully of their power.

        1. The Pugilist

          Except that a school yard bully is based on size and strength discrepancy.  The actions of the little kid fighting back are not those of a bully.

        2. hpierce

          Pugilist (irony noted):

          You did not apparently read what I wrote, nor the context… a poster indicated that someone lashing out, (in a ‘team’, in this case) can’t be a ‘bully’, by definition… I disagree… most bullies not only have their size/apparent strength that they try to use, but their ‘cohort’ of admirers.

          You seem to opine that in the current situation, UCD is the bully, and a cohort of those being bullied (their perception) are ‘righteous’.

          I have not even formed an opinion as to who may or may not be ‘bullies’ in the Mrak ‘occupation’… except, I don’t believe those women taking down the signs were “bullies”…

          If you think a ‘bully’ can’t try to ‘bully another bully’, you know little about bullies… think bloods and crips.

          From personal experience, I have confronted bullies (one, in particular) who had the strength/size advantage, but I ‘used my words’ to humiliate him in front of his cohorts, and out smarted him when he tried to “clock me” (I “fell” while on a dead run, stuck my leg out and tripped him and he ended up in rose bushes)… the bully I’m thinking of was so humiliated (and slightly injured) in front of his “group”, that he actually stopped bullying me and others, and became a pretty good friend.  He figured my intellect and instincts were more powerful.

          I was talking about “bullies” generically.

          If the students used their intellects and better instincts, they’d be doing something different.

      3. South of Davis

        The Pugilist wrote:

        > Doesn’t there need to be a power discrepancy in order to be a bully?

        No, the “biggest bully” at the public grammar school I went to was a pathetic little kid from a poor broken home.  He may have acted out bulling others to make himself feel powerful when he wasn’t.

        Often a group will “get together to bully” like a group getting together to shout at a person of color calling her a “coconut”…

        P.S. It is funny how many on the left consider the “N word” a big deal but call every black guy slightly right of center an “Uncle Tom”, “Oreo” or “House N Word”…

        1. The Pugilist

          Except that a school yard bully is based on size and strength discrepancy.  The actions of the little kid fighting back are not those of a bully.

          “It is funny how many on the left consider the “N word” a big deal but call every black guy slightly right of center an “Uncle Tom”, “Oreo” or “House N Word”…”

          It is understandable.  Just as people call someone who seems to betray their background a sellout.

        2. Barack Palin

          “It is funny how many on the left consider the “N word” a big deal but call every black guy slightly right of center an “Uncle Tom”, “Oreo” or “House N Word”…”

          Yes SOD, the left will condone racism as long as it falls along their political lines.

        3. South of Davis

          The Pugilist wrote:

          > The actions of the little kid fighting back are not those of a bully.

          When I was in school we had a poor little kid who would push, spit and throw dirt clods at others (not fight back).

          > Just as people call someone who seems to betray their background a sellout.

          Is working for UCD (or voting Republican) with brown skin “betraying your background”?

          Would you call a Southern Democrat who supports affirmative action a “sellout who betrays their background”?

          It would be nice if people could make their own decisions no mater what people of their “background” have done in the past…

  2. sisterhood

    “…including sexist and racist behaviors, threatening…”

    What was the specific sexist behavior?

    “…filmed without their permission…”

    Not sure that is illegal. Annoying, and rude, perhaps.

     

  3. Tia Will

    As a gynecologist, I have a  very different perspective on the issue of gender neutral bathrooms. People will have different opinions on what constitutes “appropriate” bathroom labelling. Until I closed my Davis practice, I had several women who were in the process of transitioning to a male status. Two of these individuals still had female genitalia, but to all appearances when clothed were male. So which traditionally labelled bathroom should they use. Some are trying to insist that individuals use the bathroom whose label corresponds to what is listed on their birth certificate. This is going to be distinctly uncomfortable for some women who go into a “women’s bathroom” only to find what appears to be a male using “their” facility. How about the feelings of the person who tries to use the “male restroom” but is discovered to still have female genitalia ?

    This is not the simple, straightforward manner that some of those taking down the gender neutral signs would like to make it out to be. Perhaps a little more compassion and a little more thoughtful reflection on both sides might go a long way.

    1. Barack Palin

      How about the fact that these bathrooms were already labelled according to existing UCD policies and not having a few students decide which restrooms are going to be gender neutral and bully women who take down the signs because they don’t feel they should have to share a bathroom with someone who has male genitalia?

    2. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > So which traditionally labelled bathroom should they use.

      It is easy, when you are dressing and acting like a man you use the “Men’s Room” and when you are acting and dressing like a woman you use the “Woman’s Room”.

      P.S. The guy in the link below should use the Men’s room when wearing pants and the Woman’s room when wearing a dress (it is really simple):

      https://www.frontiersmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/buzzfeed-drag.jpg

  4. Tia Will

    BP

    Where’s the outrage over that incident?”

    I agree that this is an outrageous incident and that any physical interference with another student should be cause for whatever discipline is consistent with campus policy. It is the physical contact that is abhorrent as the comment about “cultural appropriation” while rude and uncalled for is well within her free speech rights.

    However, I am curious about whether or not you have done your homework. Do you know that there was not “outrage’ over this incident ?  Do you know that this student was not disciplined ?  Unless you have followed up on this, I really do not see any objectivity or relevance of your comments to what is occurring here at UCD.

    1. Barack Palin

      the comment about “cultural appropriation” while rude and uncalled for is well within her free speech rights.

      Would you also just write off as “rude and uncalled for” if a white student had told a straight haired black student that their hair wasn’t appropriate?  Somehow I doubt it.  The word racism comes to mind.

    2. hpierce

      From what I wrote before, I think this was ‘staged’… the college has not identified the protagonists as students, and has said it is not staff/faculty (note the third person who does not intervene, and appears slightly amused)… yes, the University police ‘responded’ (which may also been part of the staging) but no-one has been charged with anything, and there was no indication in the text that there is an active investigation.  Something “smells funny”…

      Just looking at it again… watch towards the end… she says ‘Don’t touch me”, as she has no eye contact, and then is disposing of some paper… the “script”?

      1. hpierce

        Oh, picked up that the young lady is described as a “media intern”.  Am still thinking Hilarious (somewhat ) Obvious Adolescent (e)Xibistionist video…  guy seems proud of the number of internet “hits” (one of the interviews)… ’nuff said, am done with this…

  5. Tia Will

    BP

    How about the fact that these bathrooms were already labelled according to existing UCD policies”

    The fact is that these labels may have fit the needs of their day, much as “Whites Only” and “Blacks Only” may have met the perceived needs of their day, but would certainly not be tolerated now. The fact is that today, we have individuals whose needs are not being met by our current paradigm. Is there no room for negotiating a safe and appropriate place that can be used by all ?  I notice that you did not choose to answer my question about a place for the female to male transitioning individual who appears to be male, but whose genitalia remain female. Where is the “safe” place for this individual ?

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