Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC
For the Week of November 21, 2011

UC Davis’ quad was filled with some 5,000 students and their supporters today protesting Friday’s widely-publicized police pepper spraying of peaceful, non-violent student protestors who were supporting the nationwide Occupy movement and demonstrating against a proposed 81% UC fee hike. Multiple videos of the police violence went viral on the internet this weekend, reaching millions of viewers. National media such as the Atlantic and the Washington Post covered the situation, and UC Davis has placed its police chief and two officers on administrative leave. Education shouldn't be a debt sentence!
Photo by Alex Chis
Over the weekend, the UC Davis Faculty Association called for Chancellor Linda Katehi to resign, and for changes to UC policy that encourage, rather than suppress, free speech on campus. The Council of UC Faculty Associations said the police violence was “unprovoked, disproportional, and excessive.” UCD Assistant Professor of English Nathan Brown published an open letter to the chancellor, which was subsequently turned into an online petition that currently has over 66,000 signatures, calling Katehi “unfit” and a “threat” to the safety of Davis students.

Katehi’s first statement was a defense of the police, but later she called the incident “chilling” and said she would open an investigation. When she called a press conference Saturday afternoon, hundreds of students and their supporters surrounded it, holding a silent vigil as she left the building to walk to her car. UC president Mark Yudof said in a statement yesterday he was “appalled” by the police violence and will convene all 10 chancellors to discuss “how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest.”

The developments follow UC Berkeley police violence against protestors on November 9, which as journalist Rachel Maddow observed, was shocking given the legacy of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement. Several faculty were among those injured that day, including former US Poet Laureate Robert Hass, who wrote about it in “Beat Poets Has New Meaning” in the New York Times.

UCB march to defend public education.
Photo by Alex Chis

Over ten thousand people turned out the following Tuesday evening in solidarity with protestors and to hear UCB faculty member Robert Reich give the annual Mario Savio Young Activist Award lecture on the steps of Berkeley’s Sproul Hall.

The UC regents cancelled their meeting last week, citing security concerns. Students and staff who had been expecting to speak at the UCSF Mission Bay meeting instead marched on San Francisco’s banks, some of which include UC regents on their boards. Dozens conducted a spirited sit in at the Bank of America. The regents have announced they’ll now meet on Monday, November 28.

UC Berkeley is in such good financial condition that it signed a deal on November 11 to establish a campus in Shanghai, following the lead of New York University.

Hundreds of California State University system faculty conducted a one-day walkout on November 17, objecting to administrators’ budget decisions. A group of students and educators in New York are launching a nationwide student debt strike with hopes of getting one million students involved.

The upper one percent are attacking workers' rights not only in states like Wisconsin and Ohio, but by attempting to undermine over six decades of National Labor Relations Board protections through a Republican bill with an Orwellian name: the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act. Meanwhile, in California, proposed cuts to Cal/OSHA jeopardize workplace health and safety.

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