Two days after controversy erupted over police action at UC Davis, UC President Mark Yudof issued a statement saying he will implement “a system wide response” to address police responses to peaceful protests on UC campuses.
As part of this response, Yudof will convene all 10 campus chancellors for “full and unfettered discussion about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest,” according to the statement.
In addition, Yudof expects the chancellors to forward to him all relevant campus police protocols — including mutual aid policies — which will be reviewed by a team of “experts and stakeholders” he assembles, according to the statement.
Yudof’s response comes amidst intensifying demand at UC Davis for campus Chancellor Linda Katehi to step down.
The calls for her resignation come as a result of the police response to a peaceful protest that occurred on the campus Friday. Video of an officer pepper spraying UC Davis students, who were sitting with linked arms in peaceful protest, has since gone viral and drawn nationwide attention and scrutiny to the campus.
Around the same time of Yudof’s statement, Student Regent Alfredo Mireles, Jr. and Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein issued a press release condemning police violence on campus and warning of the threats to students’ first amendment rights on campus.
“Campus administrators should know how to deal with peaceful protests, but as we have seen at Berkeley and Davis they clearly do not,” Mireles stated in the release. “We need system wide guidelines to help prevent future violence perpetrated against students.”
Though the similar timing of the press releases was purely coincidental, Mireles, upon reading Yudof’s statement, said he agreed with the actions being undertaken.
“It’s precisely what I lobbied the president to do,” Mireles said. “However, we need to see the results of the convening of the chancellors.”
Mireles added that the actions and concerns detailed in both press releases were the results of an ongoing discussion between the board, Yudof and himself.
In the meantime, Mireles said he expects to discuss Yudof’s “systemwide response” as soon as possible.
Read the full statements below.
From UC President Mark Yudof:
I am appalled by images of University of California students being doused with pepper spray and jabbed with police batons on our campuses.
I intend to do everything in my power as President of this university to protect the rights of our students, faculty and staff to engage in non-violent protest.
Chancellors at the UC Davis and UC Berkeley campuses already have initiated reviews of incidents that occurred on their campuses. I applaud this rapid response and eagerly await the results.
The University of California, however, is a single university with 10 campuses, and the incidents in recent days cry out for a system-wide response.
Therefore I will be taking immediate steps to set that response in motion.
I intend to convene all 10 chancellors, either in person or by telephone, to engage in a full and unfettered discussion about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest.
To that end, I will be asking the Chancellors to forward to me at once all relevant protocols and policies already in place on their individual campuses, as well as those that apply to the engagement of non-campus police agencies through mutual aid agreements.
Further, I already have taken steps to assemble experts and stake-holders to conduct a thorough, far-reaching and urgent assessment of campus police procedures involving use of force, including post-incident review processes.
My intention is not to micromanage our campus police forces. The sworn officers who serve on our campuses are professionals dedicated to the protection of the UC community.
Nor do I wish to micromanage the chancellors. They are the leaders of our campuses and they have my full trust and confidence.
Nonetheless, the recent incidents make clear the time has come to take strong action to recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest.
As I have said before, free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history. It is a value we must protect with vigilance. I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right.
From Student Regent Alfredo Mireles, Jr., and Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein:
Los Angeles, CA: University of California Student Regent Alfredo Mireles, Jr. and Student Regent-Designate Jonathan Stein vehemently condemn the police violence at UC Davis yesterday.
Coupled with the use of batons against peaceful student protestors at Berkeley on November 9 students feel that their right to protest is under siege.
“I am sickened by what is happening at our campuses,” said Mireles. “Basic 1st Amendment rights to free speech and assembly are being violated and this cannot stand.”
“The tragic and infuriating thing is that these events keep happening.” Mireles continued, “Campus administrators should know how to deal with peaceful protests, but as we have seen at Berkeley and Davis they clearly do not. We need system wide guidelines to help prevent future violence perpetrated against students.”
“Immediately, we need a review of the instances of aggression used on students, and accountability for all those that are guilty. Next, we need to study and implement best practices to prevent future use of wanton violence.”
“The fact that our students feel that they cannot peacefully protest without the threat of being assaulted by the police is completely unacceptable,” Stein said. “Students no longer their rights on campus any longer. We need a clearly articulated policy that lets every student know what they can do to make their voice heard, without worrying about retaliation by the police.”
Mireles and Stein are also calling for the Regents and the Office of the President to work with them to prevent any further violence. “There is a clear problem going on our campuses and we must all come together and act now,” said Mireles.
There is going to be a Rally at the Quad on Monday 11/21 at UC Davis that is being organized by Occupy UC Davis. Thousands of students will be in attendance advocating for the right for students to peacefully protest.
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