By Chancellor Gary S. May
Dear Campus Community:
I was walking in the backyard last night, wondering what it would feel like to not feel safe there.
For many of the last 20 years, I have dropped my daughters off at various schools. I rarely had to consider their safety beyond the occasional scraped knee on the playground.
Like others in our community, I am deeply disturbed by the violence that continues to plague our society. Our own UC Davis community has lost alumni Michelle Vo and Jennifer Golick to shootings in Las Vegas and Napa Valley, respectively, in recent months.
Gun violence in our nation’s schools is all too common. Millions of Americans, led by students, will participate in the March for Our Lives across the country on Saturday. The march is dedicated to eliminating school shootings, which have become all too commonplace.
No family member should fear for a child’s or teacher’s safety in a place of learning. In our region, a private citizen, Stephon Clark, was killed in his own backyard this week, and this has left many of us hanging our heads in despair and rage. Stephon attended the Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) Summit College Day at UC Davis several years ago.
We have to remain hopeful. I am encouraged that UC Davis Police Chief Joe Farrow has made de-escalation training a priority for his campus officers. Just last evening, UC Davis hosted a public lecture titled, “Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, & the Politics of American Firearms.” These are important discussions to have, and it is imperative that we work together to improve our own responses and interactions with each other.
Garen Wintemute is the director of the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center based here at UC Davis. He and his team are working on a study to help inform policymakers about effective firearm policies for public safety. Because of their efforts, California is leading much of the national conversation on this topic.
One can only imagine what impact Stephon Clark or the 17 slain Parkland students may have made had they lived. One can only hope that one of those people was not destined to cure cancer.
We must change. Out of despair and anger, I ask that we seek solutions and positive change, together.
Gary S. May