Chancellor apologizes for pepper spraying
November 21, 2011
Photos by Gregory Urquiaga and Martin Wong/UC Davis
FROM TOWN HALL
Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi's remarks from a Tuesday night (Nov. 22) town hall are now available online.
YUDOF, REGENTS CHAIR
RESPOND TO INCIDENTS
UC President Mark G. Yudof issues a statement and confers with all 10 chancellors. Read more.
Board of Regents Chair Sherry Lansing issues a video statement.
By Dateline staff
Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi made a dramatic appearance on the Quad early this afternoon (Nov. 21), apologizing for the Friday incident in which campus police used pepper spray on protesters, sparking a weekend of outrage and soul searching.
“I’m here to apologize,” she began, addressing more than 2,000 people in the largest showing in a week of protests tied to tuition increases and the national “Occupy” movement — and now the campus Police Department’s alleged excessive use of force.
The chancellor came to the Quad, as she promised she would, for the protesters’ latest “general assembly.” She waited her turn in line, listening intently as others addressed the crowd, before taking the microphone shortly after 1 p.m. She spoke briefly — respecting the request that all speakers limit their remarks to about a minute.
“I really feel horrible for what happened on Friday,” she said. “If you think you don’t want to be students in a university like we had on Friday, I’m just telling you, I don’t want to be the chancellor of the university we had on Friday.
“Our university has to be better than it is, and it needs all of the community to come together to do that. We need to work together.
“And I know you may not believe anything that I’m telling you today, and you don’t have to. It is my responsibility to earn your trust.”
Katehi noted a sign in the crowd, referring to Nov. 17, 1973, the day a tank rammed through the main gate at Athens Polytechnic, where a student uprising had begun three days earlier against the military junta that ruled Greece at the time. The incident ended in bloodshed.
“And I was there,” said Katehi, her voice cracking with emotion, as she recalled the incident from her undergraduate years at Athens Polytechnic. “And I don’t want to forget that.”
She concluded: “So I hope that I will have a better opportunity to work with you, to meet you, to get to know you. And there will be many opportunities in the next few weeks to do that. Thank you.”
Chief, officers on leave
Katehi addressed the assembly just hours after the university announced that Police Chief Annette Spicuzza had been placed on administrative leave. On Sunday, the university put two police officers on administrative leave for their role in the pepper spraying.
Also this weekend, the chancellor took full responsibility for the incident. She expressed sadness at what occurred and announced that she would form a task force of faculty, students and staff to conduct a review. She said the task force report would be due in 30 days.
In addition, the chancellor called on the Yolo County district attorney’s office to investigate the Police Department’s use of force. The district attorney’s office agreed to conduct a review in collaboration with the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department.
The chancellor this weekend said she would not resign, as demanded by protesters in their chants and by the board of the Davis Faculty Association, an advocacy group that represents about 110 active faculty members. Two other faculty groups — the Academic Senate, consisting of about 1,300 members, and the Academic Federation — are considerably larger. In all, UC Davis has more than 2,500 faculty members.
In attending today’s general assembly, Katehi kept a promise she made Saturday afternoon before the news conference on the pepper-spraying incident. She went outside Surge II before the news conference began, to talk with the protesters — and they invited her to the general assembly.
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