Administrative Totalitarianism at the UC and the Necessity of Direct Action by Faculty

above: Proposal to Redesign the Great Seal of the University of California
The following text was presented at U.C. Riverside on April 23, 2012 at the invitation of the UCR faculty association.

On April 11, 2012 the Reynoso and Kroll Reports were released—reports which attempt to clarify the circumstances and the decision-making process that led to the pepper-spraying of student demonstrators at UC Davis in November 2011. The significance of this report is, at once, rather slight and rather weighty. It is, or perhaps should be, of rather little significance, because it largely restates facts and truths about administrative and police conduct which student and faculty activists have been stating openly for two years. But it is also of some import, because within the bureaucratic mechanisms of an institution like the UC—and in the judgment of faculty who might be inclined to dismiss any statements by those who engage in concrete political action—an “official” document like the Reynoso Report carries a kind of authority that the facts seem to lack, when articulated “unofficially.” So then what does the Reynoso Report tell us, which students and faculty who care enough about the public character of the UC system to defend it have been telling us for three years?

The UC administration decides by pure fiat which kinds of protests it will “allow” on UC campuses, and when it decides it finds one unacceptable, it deploys a militarized police force against the protesters involved without any regard for the law.

It tells us that the UC administration acts as an extra-legal regime, with authority over hundreds of thousands of people, which represses political action in a classically totalitarian fashion. If this statement seems exaggerated, let me restate it in terms that will clarify its meaning. The upper administration of our campuses has a militarized police force at its disposal—an armored, armed police force with military grade weapons (like the pepper-spray used on Nov. 18), which it is willing to use without either training or legal justification. And UC administrators are willing and able to deploy this militarized police force to repress student demonstrations without any legal justification whatsoever, in the absence of any clear law which the police force being deployed is actually enforcing. Moreover, the administration deploys this police force against student demonstrators without bothering to specify any clear guidelines concerning how it should conduct itself: without any effort to specify the limits of the use of force by its officers. That is: The UC administration decides by pure fiat which kinds of protests it will “allow” on UC campuses, and when it decides it finds one unacceptable, it deploys a militarized police force against the protesters involved without any regard for the law. This is a description of an extra-legal regime, repressing political action in a totalitarian fashion.

Well, this is a disturbing situation. Or it should be. Since the situation has been clear for two years, and since it is now officially confirmed, the question is: what do we intend to do about it?

But let me back up, and contextualize the sequence through which this situation has been highlighted since the events at UC Berkeley and UC Davis in November 2011. I want to try to specify what this sequence tells us about the relationship between administrative power and direct political action on UC campuses.

To put things as basically as possible, we are faced with an objective situation: the university is being privatized. In the simplest terms, what this means for students is that tuition is rising precipitously, and students cannot afford it. At a time when unemployment and under-employment is dauntingly high, especially for people in their twenties, students are paying for this increased tuition through rising student loans, which they know they will be paying off for some twenty years after they graduate. Student debt volume is now higher than credit card debt volume in the United States. The objective situation is that an entire generation of college students will probably default on these loans, while working jobs after graduation that are not much different than the jobs they are currently working to finance their education.

Many of these students are protesting against this situation. Why wouldn’t they? Their political action, too, is an objective situation. That is, these aren’t just some dedicated “activists” or “leftists” or “radicals” who are making trouble on UC campuses (though in many cases they are those as well). They are students who recognize that if they don’t fight for their future, they won’t have one. They are angry, and rightly so. Their actions are just, and they are justified. And since these students know all too well that their voices will not be heard if they merely speak, their political activity has often taken the form of direct action on UC campuses: particularly, building occupations and blockades. These students have had the determination and the courage to resist the privatization of the UC system and its impact on their lives. And they have managed to build the largest and most important student movement in this country since the 1960s. These actions testify to the conviction, integrity, and courage of the students that UC faculty have the privilege to know and to teach. That is: they are teaching us something about conviction, integrity, and courage, and we should be paying attention—just as we ask them to pay attention to us.

The administration of our campuses is thus faced with a decision: how will it respond to the direct action of students on UC campuses, with which it is confronted as an objective situation? These direct actions have continued for two years; they show no sign of stopping. What position will the administration take?

This administrative decision has already been made, and it too has become an objective situation. Hundreds of students have been arrested on UC campuses over the past two years. Hundreds of students have been beaten by police. That is: the decision of the administration has been to have students who take direct action against privatization beaten and arrested.

The vast majority of the faculty in the UC system is complicit with the beating and the arrest of students who take direct action against the privatization of the university.

It is probably fair to say that the public was largely unaware of this situation. And I think it is fair to say that the faculty of the UC system, for the most part, have tried to ignore this situation. To be sure, in any case, the vast majority of the faculty in the UC system has nothing to say about it, and have done nothing to prevent or to change it. This, also, is a disturbing situation. We can phrase it otherwise: the vast majority of the faculty in the UC system is complicit with the beating and the arrest of students who take direct action against the privatization of the university. They are complicit insofar as they do nothing to act against the administrative decision repress student protest through violent means. In a word, the administration has decided that the beatings will continue until morale improves, and hardly anybody cares.

In November 2011, however, this situation became more difficult to ignore and occlude. Video of students and faculty beaten at UC Berkeley went viral. A faculty member was thrown on the ground by her hair and arrested. Another had his ribs broken by a police baton. It became more difficult to ignore the fact that faculty who protest are also being arrested and beaten, as some of us had known all too well. Massive demonstrations followed at UC Berkeley and at UC Davis, the largest since the walkout of September 2009. And a week later, the Chancellor of UC Davis did something very predictable. She ordered police to clear out the same kind of demonstration on her campus, and the same thing happened: police attacked students, this time with military grade pepper- spray, for no reason whatsoever. The Chancellor emailed the campus and said it was unfortunate that the students chose not to disperse, and that the police had no choice but to act as they did. Unfortunately for her, millions of people saw what the police had done and what she had sanctioned, and over 110,000 people signed a petition calling for her resignation.

This was a new situation. Oops. Now everybody knew the open secret of the UC system: the administration of our campuses systematically uses police brutality to enforce tuition hikes. The UC administration makes students pay by having them beaten and thrown in jail by the rogue police force at its disposal. In the wake of these events, something interesting happened to the situation on the ground at UC Davis: the administration could no longer order beatings and arrests of student demonstrators. At the end of the fall quarter, students and faculty occupied a major administration building on campus for two weeks, shutting down the cashier’s office of student accounting at Dutton Hall.

And at the beginning of the winter quarter, student and faculty demonstrators did something smart. Recognizing the relatively powerless position of the administration, they began blockading the US Bank branch in the Student Union every single day, and they kept this up, every single day, for two months. The tactics were simple: they simply sat in front of the doors and shut the bank down. They let employees in and out, but they did not allow customers into the branch. They sat there and studied, talked, and held teach-ins. And the argument was simple: UC Davis has a special contract with US Bank, which generates funding for the university from US Bank revenue, in exchange for special advertising services and privileged branch and ATM placement. A US Bank logo appears on all UCD student cards, and these can be used as debit cards at US Bank. A clearer icon of privatization cannot be imagined. US Bank profits from student debt, because they finance student loans. That means they profit from rising tuition payments. And the administration profits from US Bank revenues, so it thus receives a double return on rising tuition payments. This is a conflict of interest and a disgusting and unacceptable situation at a supposedly public university. The students recognized this, they said it clearly, and they acted against it in a principled manner. Their analysis was correct, and their action was justified.

The administration couldn’t do anything about this political action. After two and half years of struggle, now it was the UC administration that was handcuffed. And an amazing thing happened: US Bank closed its branch on campus and pulled its contract with the university. Then it sued the university for lost revenue, because the administration had not had these students arrested (why not, US Bank asked, when it has done so in similar situations before?). If the situation weren’t so dire, this would be rather amusing: US Bank has argued, in writing, that the UC Administration is in breach of contract with a corporation because it failed to have students who protest privatization arrested. There could not be a clearer demonstration of the untenable situation into which UC administrators have blithely lead our university. Either we have student protesters arrested, or we face lawsuits from major corporations.

Obviously the Davis administration would not be pleased to have its weakness, and its complicity with the worst, exposed in this fashion, nor to suffer a clear defeat in its effort to have the public funding of the university replaced with private funds. So the administration, which had been documenting the names of those blockading the bank through its “Freedom of Expression Team,” had the police forward cases to the DA for prosecution. The DA decided to prosecute, and twelve of those allegedly involved in the blockade are now facing twenty-one misdemeanor charges, which carry a total possible sentence of eleven years in prison for each of those charged. When it is made clear that replacing public funds with corporate funding of the university is not an option, this is how the administration responds: by trying to destroy the lives of student and faculty demonstrators. No longer able to attack their bodies directly, the administration takes retroactive legal action to have demonstrators thrown in prison for years, if possible. This is how UC administrators respond to a threat to administrative power by direct action. And what the US Bank blockade demonstrates is that direct action has become a real threat to administrative power.

If this is not yet sufficiently troubling, yet another case at UC Davis might make it so. In the winter quarter of this year, an undergraduate student in Art Studio was giving a class presentation on public political art—what sometimes goes by the name of “graffiti.” In this case, some of the art he showed involved stenciling on campus responding to the privatization of the UC system: public art as a means of participation in the struggle against the privatization of the university. This student happens to have been one of those pepper-sprayed in November 2011. Moreover, he was arrested that day, and suffered serious nerve damage to his hands because the zip- ties with which he was restrained were too tight. During his class presentation, and despite his resistance to doing so, his professor made him identify those pieces he had shown which were his own. A couple weeks later, early on the Saturday morning of March 17, this student was arrested in his dorm room by members of both the UC Davis and City of Davis Police. He was charged with Felony Vandalism and held in jail over the weekend and into finals week. His school supplies, phone and computer were all confiscated. With no access to his contacts nor warning of the arrest, he was unable to contact legal representation. Without any means of communication from jail, he was unable to take final exams, and was only bailed out (for $20,000) when concerned friends began looking for him after he had been missing for days. UC Davis Student Judicial Affairs, which initiated the warrant for his arrest, didn’t bother to notify his home department, his family, friends, or professors to let them know the student’s whereabouts.

This student was recently expelled from UC Davis. The explicit reason for that expulsion was poor academic performance. After all—he had missed his exams while sitting in jail in the winter quarter. And it seems he took incompletes for his courses in the fall quarter, after dealing with the trauma of being pepper-sprayed and the nerve- damage he suffered through the malpractice of the police. Since police repression of his political activity had prevented him from finishing his course work over the past two quarters, isn’t it obvious that he should be expelled? If the administration doesn’t have students arrested, the administration will be punished by corporations. And, if students don’t write their final exams in jail, they will be punished by the administration.

Students and faculty responded to this situation by staging a teach-in and protest at the office of the Dean of Humanities. Lo and behold, this student has now been reinstated as a student at UCD, following a consultation, the next day, between the Assistant Dean and his lawyer. However, although his expulsion has been reversed, this student now faces a number of felony charges, which the DA has decided to prosecute, with a possible sentence of four years in prison. This is what you get, if you allegedly write on the walls of a university, in public, the facts of the situation: that the UC administration is a totalitarian regime which suppresses political protest through police violence and legal repression.

The Chancellor of UC Davis has offered her earnest apology to students who were pepper-sprayed. And she tells us now that the administration is “moving swiftly” to address the rather bracing findings of the Reynoso report—which clearly and explicitly place primary blame for the pepper-spray incident upon the administration, not the police. Meanwhile, this same administration is having the cases of the same students who were pepper-sprayed forwarded to the DA for prosecution for the bank blockade and for a bit of graffiti. The administration apologizes for its totalitarian conduct at the same time as it intensifies it. This is the situation at UC Davis, where my colleague in the Department of English, Joshua Clover, is one of those facing a possible prison sentence for his principled political actions, and where brilliant undergraduate and graduate students who I know and care about deeply are facing the same consequences for standing up to an administration which is completely out of control.

So again, my question is: what are we going to do about this situation? One thing is obvious: action through procedural channels tends to uphold the power of the administration. Policies and procedures are, strangely, the administration’s primary alibi—even though it constantly violates them. In a vote of the Academic Senate at UC Davis, some 400 faculty voted to accept the Chancellor’s “good faith apology” for the pepper-spray incident, carrying the vote on that rather bizarre ballot measure. At the same time, some 350 faculty voted against a ballot measure denouncing police violence against student protesters, and calling for the consideration of alternatives to police action by the administration. These people, who I am ashamed to call my colleagues, are unequivocally the enemies of everything a public university is supposed to stand for. And they are the primary support of the administrative regime that threatens the lives of anyone who acts against them.

It is up to the rest of us, then, who are not so willing to sanction police violence against students, to directly oppose the administration which orders and condones it. The faculty of the UC system is now faced with an inescapable imperative: to directly confront the administration of the university, and to make it impossible for that administration to continue repressing direct political action on our campuses. How can we do this?

Like the students who have the courage and conviction to take direct action against the UC administration, the faculty will also have to have the courage and conviction to take direct action against the UC administration.

If we attempt to do it through ballot measures, it seems these will be ineffectual. The reactionary faculty of the UC, it appears, are more eager to vote than those who care about the public character of the UC system and the people who defend it. So we will have to break with pallid and powerless channels of policies and procedures. Like the students who have the courage and conviction to take direct action against the UC administration, the faculty will also have to have the courage and conviction to take direct action against the UC administration. Student activists have understood the simple point that forms of action which do not pose an immediate and concrete barrier to the normal functions of the university will be ignored, deferred, and displaced. So they organize occupations and blockades. If the faculty want to confront the totalitarian conduct of the UC administration, we will also have to organize and participate in occupations and blockades.

Why is this so difficult to imagine or to accept, one wonders? If we recognize the objective situation at the UC, why are the faculty so reluctant to take direct action within and against it? Why does it often even seem preposterous, to many faculty, that we might do so?

One of my colleagues is facing a possible eleven years in prison for allegedly blockading the US Bank. Given this situation, why is the English Department at UC Davis still teaching courses? Why would we be willing to submit our grades at the end of this quarter? Why don’t concerned faculty at UC Davis immediately organize a picket and blockade of Mrak Hall, shutting it down completely, until the Chancellor takes action to have these charges dropped? And why couldn’t such an action be supported by similar actions at all other UC campuses?

What would such actions require? To shut down Mrak Hall, it would require about 20 faculty, at most, and perhaps 20 students, to block the doors of the building—which could be done by even a few people holding a banner across the doors, supported by students and faculty picketing across the steps. Those holding the banner could be rotated to avoid disproportional accountability. And it would be possible to organize a rotating schedule of those carrying out such an action on different days, so that no one would have to be there all day every day.

We can organize major international conferences, but we cannot organize this? It is easy to isolate out a single faculty member like Joshua Clover at UC Davis or Ken Ehrlich at UC Riverside, and pretend that he is some idealogue corrupting the youth of Athens. But even ten faculty involved in a direct action are too many for the administration to isolate in that fashion. The fact is that the faculty have far more power than do the students of the UC system, though we have been far more reluctant to use it. So students are fighting on our behalf (if we care about the public character of the university) against privatization. And they are thus bearing the burden of administrative repression. But the administration cannot repress the faculty of the university in the same fashion, if we act together.

So when are we going to do so, in defense of our students, and in defense of the university, and therefore directly against the administration? That is my question for UC faculty.

Nathan Brown is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at UC Davis.

Students Occupy Former Cross Cultural Center at UC Davis « occupy california

Students Occupy Former Cross Cultural Center at UC Davis

by G via Occupy California

Students at UC Davis have occupied the former Cross Cultural Center, the center having moved to a new $22 million building.

They have declared their solidarity with UCR, Egypt, the hotel occupation in San Francisco and Occupy Oakland – especially with their upcoming moving day on January 28th.

Pictures will be posted soon, here is the communiqué:

The spaces we live in are broken: occupation is our defense.

As capital spirals further into crisis, we are constantly confronted with the watchword of austerity. We are meant to imagine a vast, empty vault where our sad but inevitable futures lie. But we are not so naïve. Just as Wall Street functions on perpetually revolving credit markets where cash is merely a blip, so also does our state government. High tuition increases have been made necessary not by shrinking savings, but by a perpetually expanding bond market, organized by the UC Regents, enforced through increasing tuition and growing student loan debt. Growth has become a caricature of itself, as the future is sold on baseless expanding credit from capitalist to capitalist. Our future is broken. We are the crisis. Our occupations are the expressions of that crisis.

But on the university campuses, where militarization is increasing daily, we have more immediate needs. Our relationship with the administration and police is not one of trust and openness; the arrogance and nonchalance with which they regularly inflict violence against us is just as regularly followed by a thoroughly dissembling, inadequate, and cowardly condemnation of that violence. One hand attacks—one hand denies. Our universities and our public spaces are today ultra-militarized zones, where students and workers are monitored and subjugated under the pretense of “health and safety.” Officer Kemper from UC Irvine drew his gun at the Regents’ meeting at UCSF. Berkeley UCPD participated in violently clearing the Oakland Communards from Oscar Grant Plaza just weeks before they would come to UC Davis for the events of November 18th. On the day of the first Oakland General Strike, UCOP office in Oakland was lent out to OPD to “monitor” protests. Under the pretext of mutual aid, squads of armed and armored riot cops move from one campus, one public space, one city, to the next. The circulation of cops throughout the state shows that the mobile, militarized force of repression knows no boundaries: it will protect capital, government, and the status quo, wherever they are threatened. In a university whose motto is fiat lux, the administration crushes dissent and veils its intentions with lies. It has the same intentions as Mayor Quan or the Military in Egypt: to crush resistance, by any means necessary.

To continue our resistance, our immediate need is to create a safe space of togetherness, care, and freedom. When we occupied Mrak, the same officers who would later be involved in pepper spraying us watched over us as we slept. As we gathered to discuss, plan, and act to protect our right to education, the Orwellian “Freedom of Expression Team” and the “University Communications Team” loomed nearby, texting the pigs and administration on their stupid androids, smiling at us in their fake, overfed way, scooting near like unpopular highschool kids trying to overhear the weekends’ party plans. Later, these same concerned FOEs, would stand by on the quad and do nothing, grinning like idiots, as students pepper-sprayed at point blank range called for medics. It is clear to us that public space has become a euphemism for militarized, ordered, monitored space. Occupation opens a common space which is not the extension of private property to group property, but the active exclusion of all that reinforces private property. We must exclude the police and the administration, and their “Freedom of Expression Team” lackeys as well, in order to create the openness and togetherness which is impossible in their presence.

The UC Chancellor, President, Regents—who prattle on endlessly about diversity while the university closes its doors to brown students, who hail marginal utility while “the economy” closes its fist around the poor, who dream up ways to boost the university’s standing on some imaginary scale of “excellence” while slurs, swastikas, nooses, and Klan masks appear endlessly on our campus, who meet protests with violence and truth with lies—they have already proven their incapacity to imagine a future different than the present. We occupy because we will not wait for the broken future they have planned for us, because we do not trust our “elected officials” or administrators to make decisions that address problems beyond their own narrow interests. This action is not the beginning of a discussion; this is the end of the discussion. We cannot negotiate for our needs, we will not negotiate for our needs, we will meet our needs.

via Students Occupy Former Cross Cultural Center at UC Davis « occupy california.

via cuntrastamu!


The “Pepper Spray Incident” and the Inevitable Radicalization of the UC Student Body

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When I watched Lt. John Pike and the University of California Davis Police Department violently attack our peaceful demonstration against social inequality and austerity on Friday, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation.

There is no dearth of personal recollections of this weekend’s events circulating the internet as the “pepper spray incident” and Chancellor Linda Katehi’s “walk of shame” have made UC Davis the center of international attention and outcry. In light of this, it is more important to consider the implications of these events and what they mean for the growing global movement against social inequality. Particularly, it is important to recognize the historical importance of the past week’s profound radicalization of students in the UC system and across the nation. The entrance of an organized student movement into the current social situation has deep implications, and they should be considered as the movement goes forward.

The video that has now gone viral speaks volumes and there is no need to romanticize the moments in great detail. My friends and I were approached by a small army of thugs, who violently attacked some of the kindest, most intelligent, most caring people I have ever met. I was not as brave as my friends who made history by refusing to yield to the police goons, and I have to admit that after watching their bodies react, I do not regret falling back. I saw hard working, compassionate students and teachers violently vomiting, weeping, and holding each other as that disgusting orange goo ran down their teary faces. I saw hundreds of students pour out of classrooms and the library to come to our defense. I saw the police turn tail and flee after seeing the looks of fury in our eyes. I saw the looks in their eyes, too—looks of genuine fear. I’d never seen that before in a police officer’s eyes.

So, what role will California college students play in the Occupy movement? As the worldwide revolt against social inequality continues despite the deeply disturbing intentions of the wealthiest among us to suffocate the movement, the students now have an incredibly important role to play. With the original occupiers on the East Coast forced by the cold weather and brutal police raids to reclaim less visible, unused property, the West Coast is responsible for sustaining and building the movement until spring.

And UC and CSU students are ready to rise to the occasion. 10,000 of us gathered in Berkeley last Tuesday, 2,000 here in Davis on the same day, and an Occupy camp has been set up at UCLA. Hundreds of UC students converged in downtown San Francisco last week and succeeded in shutting down a Bank of America. CSU students forced the CSU Board of Trustees to secretly flee their original meeting spot before passing another round of fee increases. UC leadership cancelled the UC Regents’ meeting last week out of fear that it would be shut down by student protestors.

The participation of thousands of students across the state in the anti-Wall Street movement represents the rapid radicalization of California students, which in itself is indicative of the quick move to the left by millions of movement sympathizers. The radicalization of the students manifests itself on the busses, in the restaurants, and in the coffee shops on and around my campus, where discussion of political strategy dominates. Of course, these anecdotes mean relatively little—but the politicization of the student body is significant nevertheless. Though the process of politicization is experiencing its birth pangs, it is emotionally moving that the process has finally begun.

This radicalization must continue to be channeled into a starkly anti-capitalist political tendency. Objective material conditions are ensuring that liberal elements of the student body will be drowned out. This is a huge break from the Free Speech Movement of the mid-60s, and even from the anti-Vietnam War movement that followed. Youth unemployment in the United States is above 20% – higher than in some “Arab Spring” countries. We’ve seen the statistics about wealth inequality: the top 1% controls the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90%. Only 40% of college students graduate, and for those that do, they enter the workforce with an average debt-load just under $30,000.

And then what? A minimum wage Starbucks job at $8.50 an hour? Perhaps most importantly, though, is the current rollback of nearly every major social gain won by the working class since the 1930s. Even in the midst of the Vietnam War, after all, President Johnson’s “Great Society” at least recognized that social inequality existed and that the most impoverished Americans were worthy of minuscule levels of government support.

At least our parents got “Guns and Butter”. Now we’re stuck with just the guns.

Today, the contrasts couldn’t be starker. President Obama has escalated the war on the working class by continuing the decades-long trend of drastically slashing social services. In fact, Obama has promised to out-do the GOP in the race to see who can slash more services to deal with the massive debt our country has accumulated from years of war and tax breaks for the wealthy. He has proposed gutting services that tens of millions of Americans rely on for survival: Social Security, Medicare, SNAP, WIC, etc. The cynical Manipulator-in-Chief has invaded new countries, illegally murdered American citizens abroad, and expanded the War on Terror into Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

I spent a year working as a volunteer on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. I was drawn to his candidacy by his promises to serve “Main Street, not Wall Street”, to close Guantanamo Bay, to end the wars, to stop the mass deportation of undocumented families, and to roll-back the PATRIOT Act and the rest of the unconstitutional post-9/11 national security apparatus. I, like many in my generation, naively thought that a candidate that was backed by Wall Street could still make “change”.

Barack Obama has delivered on exactly none of these promises. In fact, the ruling class could hardly ask for a better leader. Corporate profits have soared during his presidency, as unemployment remains stiflingly high with no signs that the economy will add jobs at a rate quick enough to keep up with population gain. It makes me furious that the candidate to whom I dedicated a year of my life has turned on me. I take it very personally. I am not the only 21-year-old who feels this way. I also served the President’s political party for a year following his election. I was an elected delegate to the California Democratic Party, and was a staffer for a statewide Democratic campaign. But the Democratic Party is leading the attack on working people across America.
Democratic Governor, Jerry Brown, for example, seems like he’s trying to out-do Scott Walker in imposing austerity on the indigent and the young. Democratic mayors across the country are ordering riot police on their own peaceful protesters. In the bay area, “progressive” Democrats like Jean Quan and Ed Lee have ordered riot police to evict occupiers on multiple occasions. These liberal champions ordered police to beat Iraq War Veterans Scott Olson and Kayvan Sabehgi.

Today, no solution to the social crisis can be found through either of the two big-business parties. This is why the burgeoning student movement in California represents a great hope for the anti-capitalist position. In light of this, demands for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation should be considered only as a show of our power. In reality, even if we are to succeed in ousting Katehi,
her replacement would be no different.

We students can re-shape the future of public education in California only by abolishing the UC Regents, CSU Board of Trustees, and their respective police forces. Democratic student, worker, and faculty control of the entire decision-making process is needed to reverse the trends towards privatization, debt, and austerity.

And we should also remember that the crisis in higher education is a symptom of the crisis of capitalism. The American student movement of the late 60s, for example, failed to prevent the attack on the working class that has been carried out by Democrats and Republicans throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, and 2010s because it failed to self-consciously establish itself as a movement against capitalism.

This belies the issue of “no politics” that is such a popular refrain for liberals taking part in the Occupy movement today. “No politics” has been our strategy for 40 years, and look what it has gotten us! Back to UC Davis— I have read multiple accounts on the events of the past days that emphasize how UC Davis is a turning point for the Occupy movement. Images of the blatant police brutality and the powerful silence that met the Chancellor when she left her botched press conference have terrified and inspired millions. But this isn’t an unprecedented show of violence, and police brutality isn’t a new phenomenon. The events of the past days are a glimpse of reality, not a break from the past. Though it has taken a viral video to make this clear to many, it is an important fact to remember.

The images from Davis, Berkeley, Chapel Hill, New York, Oakland, Denver, and countless other cities and towns across the country have galvanized support for the movement and have even further embedded Occupy Wall Street as a facet of American political life. The images have also revealed democracy in America for just what it is: a façade.

In light of this, students at UC and across the country must prepare ourselves for the coming struggle. The police attacks will not abate—they will only grow in intensity. Our debt load will grow, unless we reject the concept of debt as required by capitalism. Fee hikes will continue until we reject the very idea of paying for school. We should fight for something radically different—a society where production is managed based on social need and human rights to housing, food, education, transportation, and physical security. One where our friends, brothers, sisters, and parents aren’t sent off to die in unnecessary wars. One where speculators and bankers are treated like the criminals they are.

The lines in the sand are being drawn on my campus and across the country. Students, ask yourselves: Which side are you on?


 [Point of clarification: I write this as an individual and in no way as a spokesperson for any group.]

Eric Lee is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Davis.


Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

via UCDavis Bicycle Barricade by Nathan Brown

Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons,hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

What happened next?

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students.Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.


Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis


They Know Where the Bodies Are Buried…

Because high-ranking University of California officials know Austerity has its privileges, they want their share of the take.

Below are thirty-six of the most audacious and highest-paid executives in the UC system.

We have questions and we would like to meet them.


1. WHO? Who are they?

2.  WHAT? What do they do?

3. WHERE? Where are they?


1. WHO: / 2. WHAT:

UC system’s central offices

Satish Ananthaswamy, CFA senior portfolio manager, Office of the Chief Information Officer

Marie Berggren, chief investment officer

William Coaker Jr., senior managing director of equity investments, Office of the Treasurer

Lynda Choi, managing director, absolute return, regents’ Office of the Treasurer

Linda Fried, senior portfolio manager

Gloria Gil, managing director of real assets, Office of the Treasurer

Jesse Phillips, senior managing director, investment risk management, regents’ Office of the Treasurer

Tim Recker, CFA managing director of private equity, regents’ Office of the Treasurer

Dr. Jack Stobo, senior vice president, health services and affairs

Randolph Wedding, senior managing director, fixed income, Office of the Treasurer


Dr. Sam Hawgood, vice chancellor and dean, School of Medicine

Ken Jones, chief operating officer, medical center

Mark Laret, CEO, medical center

Larry Lotenero chief information officer, medical center

John Plotts, senior vice chancellor

UC Berkeley

Christopher Edley Jr., dean, School of Law

Richard Lyons, dean, Haas School of Business

UC Davis

Steven Currall, dean, Graduate School of Management

William McGowan, CFO, health system

Dr. Claire Pomeroy, CEO health system, vice chancellor/dean, School of Medicine

Ann Madden Rice, CEO Medical Center


Roger Farmer, chair, Department of Economics

Dr. David Feinberg, CEO of the hospital system; associate vice chancellor

Franklin Gilliam Jr. dean, school of Public Affairs

Dr. Gerald Levey, dean emeritus

Virginia McFerran, chief information officer of the health system

Judy Olian, dean and John E. Anderson chair, Anderson School of Management

Amir Dan Rubin, chief operating officer of the hospital system

Dr. J. Thomas Rosenthal, chief medical officer of the hospital system; associate vice chancellor

Paul Staton, chief financial officer of the hospital system

UC San Diego

Dr. David Brenner, vice chancellor for health sciences; dean of the School of Medicine

Tom Jackiewicz, CEO, associate vice chancellor of the health system

Gary Matthews, vice chancellor, resource management & planning

Dr. Thomas McAfee, dean for clinical affairs

Robert Sullivan, dean, Rady School of Management

UC Irvine

Terry Belmont, CEO, Medical Center


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