UCD Vice Chancellor Criticizes Protesters, Supports Right to Protest

MRAK-Occupation-5By Ralph Hexter

(Editor’s note, this was a letter to the community dated Friday, April 8 from Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter) –

In response to numerous questions and comments submitted to the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of the Provost, I write to provide the community with an update of the situation in Mrak Hall, and also to clarify the concerns of university administration and impacted staff with respect to the manner in which this protest is being carried out.

At the outset, let me make it clear that the issue is not and has never been about protest. The university has a Freedom of Expression policy that is very clear on the right to protest. The most recent version of the policy is the product of a great deal of collaborative work, involving representatives of the Academic Senate and the ASUCD. Not insignificantly, it was reviewed favorably by the ACLU. I urge all who are interested to consult the policy at http://manuals.ucdavis.edu/ppm/400/400-01.pdf

Let me now move on to respond to some of the questions and comments we’ve received, and to clarify the administration and staff concerns I mentioned above.

At any one time, a small number of protesters continues to occupy the reception area and a hallway on the 5th floor of Mrak Hall. While Chancellor Katehi, Vice Provost – Academic Affairs Maureen Stanton, and I, along with our colleagues, operate more or less normally in our offices and receive visitors, with minimal inconvenience, access to the Office of Research is effectively blocked, so Vice Chancellor – Research Harris Lewin and his immediate staff must work from a remote location.

The fact that the protestors refuse to vacate Mrak Hall during non-business hours presents a number of further challenges. Because Mrak Hall is not a residence hall, it has been necessary to assign additional staff to monitor the building throughout nights and over the weekend in order to ensure safety. The protesters’ remaining in Mrak Hall when it is closed is but one of the violations of campus regulations about which the occupiers have been repeatedly informed but which they continue to ignore.

A significant number of correspondents have challenged our restrained response to a significant ongoing disruption and violations of campus regulations and policies. To them and to all let me say

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that we do not condone and have never condoned such disruptions or violations. We have, quite deliberately, so far elected not to initiate disciplinary proceedings in the hope that the students will yet choose to enter into dialogue with the chancellor, an option she has repeatedly offered.

Let me address next the disruption and unease that the occupation is causing our staff, for this is a matter of grave concern. Staff are not merely inconvenienced. Many no longer feel comfortable using the restrooms in Mrak Hall. Many complain about the odors emanating from the protesters’ food and the garbage they leave behind, which is also an additional burden on the custodial staff. For their patience and forbearance, we thank them; it is a great deal to ask of them.

Some protesters, however, have even gone so far as to confront individual staff members, posting videos of these interactions on their social media channels. As if being held up for public ridicule were not enough, some staff have experienced outright intimidation. At least one staff member has filed a grievance. Others perhaps have refrained out of fear of further intimidation.

In addition, there have been acts of intimidation directed at faculty members for their personal views and associations.

As I close, let me affirm once again that UC Davis honors the right to protest and to engage in vigorous debate, including criticism of the administration. It is lamentable, however, that the manner in which a number of the Mrak occupiers have chosen to conduct their protest falls, in many respects, outside of official campus regulations and policies, and certainly far short of the aspirations embodied in our Principles of Community.

It is especially lamentable that the conduct of some has extended to intimidation, which has no place on our campus. Those who engage in it abuse the freedoms we all enjoy at our great university.

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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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23 Comments

  1. Barack Palin

    Some protesters, however, have even gone so far as to confront individual staff members, posting videos of these interactions on their social media channels. As if being held up for public ridicule were not enough, some staff have experienced outright intimidation. At least one staff member has filed a grievance. Others perhaps have refrained out of fear of further intimidation.
    In addition, there have been acts of intimidation directed at faculty members for their personal views and associations.
    It is especially lamentable that the conduct of some has extended to intimidation, which has no place on our campus.

    So some of the activists are involved in the bullying of staff and others.  They’ve lost all credibility if they ever had any to begin with.

      1. Barack Palin

        Sounds like it’s more than just the Vice Chancellor claiming the bullying and intimidation.  Are you saying they’re all making these things up?

        1. Barack Palin

          If the shoe was on the other foot and the activists were crying about bullying and intimidation coming from staff would you be so quick to downplay their concerns?  I think we already know the answer to that.

  2. SODA

    My question is why Provost Hexter and not the Chancellor writing this? And why now and not before?  I suppose it is no win given the pepper spray incident, but I can’t help but think there was a better way to deal with the protestors encampment AND giving them access to dialogue with the Chancellor before now.

  3. Barack Palin

    Several school structures have been vandalized, including the iconic Egghead sculptures, which have been spray-painted with “Fire Katehi.” Mrak Hall has been chalked. Protesters have stalked, yelled and cursed at Chancellor Katehi while she was walking through campus. Similar intimidating gestures have been made to Mrak Hall employees, spurring a counter-movement called #stopbullyingUCDstaff.
    Protesters have disrupted meetings between elected student government members and Katehi by pounding on walls. They have made racial slurs. A UC Davis Latina employee has been called a “coconut” (brown on the outside, white on the inside), and an African-American supporter of the chancellor was harassed and said to be tactically used as a “shield.”

    Even more complaints.  My how the evidence of intimidation and bullying is piling up.
    http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/letters/end-harassment-and-intimidation-at-uc-davis/

  4. Barack Palin

    Yet another article from someone who said he is/was a student activist.

     This staffer has done so much for so many students, including me. This staffer spoke of being harassed and stalked by some of the protesters. 
    But I can no longer support the protest. This change in perspective began when a staffer in Mrak Hall called me one night about 1 a.m. This staffer has done so much for so many students, including me. This staffer spoke of being harassed and stalked by some of the protesters. A few of us upset by this penned a letter calling for the protest to end. But I was afraid to publicly own up to it — especially to my “radical” colleagues who, like me, generally have never met a protest they didn’t like.

    http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/how-i-went-from-fire-katehi-to-supporting-her/
     

  5. Tia Will

    I have four thoughts about points made in this article.

    1) “access to the Office of Research is effectively blocked, so Vice Chancellor – Research Harris Lewin and his immediate staff must work from a remote location.

    This is completely unacceptable ( speaking as a participant in many, many protests) and should never have been allowed. Those blocking access to any function of the University should have been relocated or removed immediately upon their refusal to leave or relocate.

    2. “Many no longer feel comfortable using the restrooms in Mrak Hall.”

    This is absurd. People have all variations of comfort regarding the use of public restrooms. I have known many women in my practice who bring in their urine specimens from home because they never feel comfortable enough to use a public restroom. I do not believe that the protestors are responsible for the degree of comfort one experiences when entering or exiting a restroom into a public area.

    3. Objecting to smells from their food ? Really. Does this not exist in every work place where people bring their food to their workspaces?  Now, leaving their trash behind for the environmental services staff to clean up is completely unacceptable and the groups leaders should police this function or clean up themselves.

    4. “some staff have experienced outright intimidation. At least one staff member has filed a grievance. Others perhaps have refrained out of fear of further intimidation.”

    Grievances of intimidation should of course be pursued through established process and sanctions imposed for this kind of behavior if substantiated. The speculation about “maybe others” is just that, speculation, and should not affect anyone’s actions .

    1. Barack Palin

      This is absurd. People have all variations of comfort regarding the use of public restrooms. 

      Not when you use a public restroom and leave with a camera in your face then having your picture posted on Facebook with these comments under the caption of you taking down a temporary gender neutral sign:

      dead.

      im so glad it wasn’t me girl cause let me tell you
      she would have had to march her pasty ass back into the bathroom to wash some phlegm off her face lmfao

       This transphobic asshole

       fuck that person

      Do we know who this person is?

       We’ve been looking but haven’t found their names (this person or the other we’ve got on video).

      1. Barack Palin

        It sure got quiet in here.  Can you imagine the uproar if a UCD staff member had posted a pic of a student activist on their Facebook page that produced disgusting vitriolic comments like some of the ones noted above?

        1. Justice4All

          Come on man, no one filmed or took photos of anyone in the bathroom. I also dont think that Barack Palin has any room to complain about “vitriolic comments” given his behavior and comments on the Vanguard. The pot is calling the kettle black.

        2. Barack Palin

          Who said photos were taken of people in the bathroom?  The videos and photos were taken as two ladies were entering or exiting the restroom and their pictures were posted on Facebook with several demeaning comments posted.  I found the Facebook links from doing a little sleuthing from an article that the Vanguard had posted a few weeks ago.  It’s all there with a little research.

          http://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/03/uc-employees-remove-gender-neutral-bathroom-signs/

  6. Tia Will

    BP

    It got quiet in here because I had chores to do. Not because I do not see things differently.

    Not when you use a public restroom and leave with a camera in your face then having your picture posted on Facebook with these comments under the caption of you taking down a temporary gender neutral sign:”

    A poster on another thread made this point, but also made the assumption that we would all feel the same way about being photographed entering or leaving a public restroom. I just want to make the point that we do not all feel the same way. I, for one, could not care less if someone wants to waste their time and energy taking pictures of my bathroom entrances and exists and posting them on line. I see this as an immature and ineffective way of making whatever point they are trying to make, but if I am entering or exiting a public area, it is just that, public, and I have no expectation of privacy within that space. Also, if I feel that taking down a “gender neutral sign” or any other sign for that matter is the right thing to do, then why exactly would I mind be photographed while engaged in that activity in a public space ?

     

    1. Barack Palin

      How conveniently you skip the Facebook post and the comments that I copy and pasted.

      Not only was this woman photographed coming out of the restroom but her pic was posted on a Facebook page where several people wrote ugly comments.  Now do you still feel it’s absurd for her to feel uncomfortable or harassed when using a MRAK public restroom?

  7. Tia Will

    BP

    How conveniently you skip the Facebook post and the comments that I copy and pasted.”

    I think that I have made it abundantly clear on multiple posts on multiple threads that I do not approve of personal attacks made by anyone. In a pre emptive comment for you and/or hpierce. No, I do not consider myself perfect, but I certainly try to keep my comments out of personal attack mode.

    I stand against ” ugly comments” made by anyone, and stand by my own comment.

    1. hpierce

       I do not approve of personal attacks made by anyone. In a pre emptive comment for you and/or hpierce. 

      Yeah, BP and I are”joined” at the hip both politically and by personality… thanks, my Comedy channel station is mal-functioning, and I needed the laugh [I suspect BP also got a chuckle out of the linkage].  And of course saying that you needed a pre-emptive comment, mentioning me, is obviously not a ‘personal attack’, but merely a “statement of fact”.  Got it.  Mea Culpa. [not really]

      1. Barack Palin

        Hpierce, I have no idea of what she’s talking about regarding a pre-emptive comment.  I also don’t understand how you got dragged into it.

        1. hpierce

          I attribute it to “luck of the Irish”… truly did give me a good chuckle that you and I were perceived as ‘cohorts’… although I truly, strongly disagree with you on many points, would not surprise me at all that on a person-person basis, if we didn’t talk politics, we would get along just fine.  Am thinking this medium (the blog-site) loses track of that concept.

          Will have to think about the significance of what I just, genuinely, wrote, and what that means to my mental/social health, and whether I should ‘exit, stage right’ (or left, or whatever).  Today I have been linked to you, and to Frankly… so weird…

          Haven’t checked… is it a full or new moon tonight?

  8. Tia Will

    Please let me know when you have called me out for making personal attacks when I have not either apologized, or explained why I did not think an apology was warranted.

    The we can discuss the issue of hypocrisy. Or maybe we should just all stay on topic and quit second guessing each others inner thought processes.

  9. Justice4All

    I find the assertions in this letter laughable. The notion that an area of the 5th floor of Mrak Hall is “effectively blocked” is ridiculous. I have been to the occupation personally many times, even when hundreds of students were occupying multiple floors of the building. At no point did I or anyone else feel that certain areas “were effectively blocked”. Administrators come and go all the time, free of harassment. This letter is nothing more than a feeble attempt to denigrate the credibility of an entire movement, based on the actions of a few. Its a Nixonian attempt to otherize and criminalize Katehi’s critics, practically all of whom are people of color, women, or gender non conforming in one way or another. Those occupiers literally spend hours washing off chalk inside Mrak hall that others had done. Do you read about that in this guy’s letter?

    Do you read about how the occupiers actually take out their own trash every day? Do you read about the daily intimidation that happens at approximately 6 pm? An administrator comes, in, threatens the students with disciplinary action, including loss of scholarships, termination of employment for grad students, and expulsion. He then threatens to trespass anyone who is not an active UCD student.

    Lets not pretend this administrator isnt doing anything other than trying to protect his unethical, nepotistic, corrupt boss, likely at her direction. A simple apology is NOT enough. If a student cheats on an exam, does that student get to apologize and move on? No! Why should the Chancellor get a free pass?

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