A Decade of Listening and Action

Quick Summary

  • Progressive measures taken in the wake of pepper spraying
  • UC Davis leads the way on police reform in the UC system
  • Students’ food insecurity, other basic needs also addressed

Updated 2 p.m. Nov. 18: In a video added to the diversity, equity and inclusion section, Vice Chancellor Renetta Garrison Tull discusses the final report from the Task Force on Next Generation Reforms to Advance Campus Safety report and discusses some of her office's initiatives and programs that address campus safety, campus engagement and community building.

This week UC Davis commemorates the 10-year anniversary of the day when students who were protesting as part of the national Occupy movement were unjustifiably pepper-sprayed by UC Davis campus police.

The university recognized and the Reynoso Task Force Report confirmed in its first paragraph: “The pepper spraying incident that took place on Nov. 18, 2011, should and could have been prevented.”

However, this horrific incident became an opportunity as UC Davis enacted progressive measures to reform campus policing (for example, officers no longer respond to protests) and safety, and addressed student needs overall.

The incident also served as an indicator of how the university could listen better to student voices on such topics as campus safety and student expression, and basic needs such as food insecurity, affordable housing, mental health care and financial support. As a result of better engagement, UC Davis has made many advances in these crucial areas.

Campus safety reform

UC Davis’ Task Force on Next Generation Reforms to Advance Campus Safety issued its final report and Chancellor Gary S. May simultaneously accepted all eight of its recommendations in June. They included the establishment of a restorative justice program and new approaches to mental health crises; regular review of the arming of police; increased transparency; and ongoing review and dialogue to ensure the campus Police Department is meeting the community’s needs.

Separately, the UC Community Safety Plan adopted a number of reforms already implemented or well underway at UC Davis. The lead reform, for example, called for an independent police accountability board on each campus to promote accountability and communication between the campus community and police. These are to be modeled on UC Davis’ Police Accountability Board, established in 2014 as the first of its kind on a university campus in California.


In November, UC Davis established a Campus Safety Oversight Committee to improve communication and transparency about campus public safety programs. The committee is charged with reviewing UC Davis’ progress on all of the task force recommendations (including one that called for the oversight committee), as well as the recommendations from the ASUCD and the University of California for continued reform to campus and community safety. The committee, led by Vice Chancellor Kelly Ratliff of Finance, Operations and Administration, evaluates changes based on evolving data, research and input from the community.

Here are examples of recommendations that have been acted upon:

  • No law enforcement gear from the feds — Though UC Davis had never received any property through the federal government’s Law Enforcement Support Office, or LESO, the university nevertheless amended its procurement policy (PPM 350-10) in October to prohibit participation in the LESO program under which Department of Defense property is transferred to federal and state agencies for use in law enforcement activities.
  • Reallocating funds and reconfiguring staffing (i.e., “defunding”) — Based on both local and systemwide recommendations, three vacant uniformed officer positions in the UC Davis Police Department have been eliminated, resulting in funds for three key positions to support reforms: a public safety policy analyst in Student Affairs; an analyst position to support data, accreditation and transparency efforts within the Police Department; and a new position dedicated to the Health 34  initiative (see below). The Police Department has also repurposed three other uniformed sworn officers to focus on campus outreach efforts, as CORE officers.
  • Accreditation — Under Chief Joe Farrow’s leadership, the UC Davis Police Department earned accreditation from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (and is one of only two UC police departments to  have this distinction). The association is grounded in President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st-Century Policing and continually evaluates and implements best practices for campus safety as part of its accreditation standards.
  • Transparency Dashboard Launched in September as part of the Police Department’s website, the dashboard is broken into three parts: public safety (including monthly crime reports and daily police logs, and resources to deal with hate incidents); accountability (including data compiled for California’s Racial and Identity Profiling Act; statistics on use of force; and information on complaints resolved by the Police Accountability Board); and department operations (including policy manual and department demographics).

Health 34

The UC Davis Fire Department, which operates out of Station 34, has the lead on this pilot program, under development, whereby fire personnel will be trained in mental health response to answer those types of calls.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Chancellor May announced the creation of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2018, and Renetta Garrison Tull came on board as the first DEI vice chancellor the next year, infusing diversity, equity and inclusion in all that UC Davis does. In the video below, Tull discusses the Task Force on Next Generation Reforms to Advance Campus Safety report and discusses some of her office's initiatives and programs that address campus safety, campus engagement and community building.

Addressing student needs

In February 2018, just over six months after he took office, Chancellor May convened task forces on affordable student housing, food security and mental health care — the latter of which led to hiring additional counselors and moving care providers into North Hall, adjacent to the Quad. Counseling Services also began offering online appointment scheduling and a text message-based crisis hot line.

In June of this year, Student Health and Counseling Services announced further investment in health and wellness, including the addition of eight new mental health counselor positions to bring the total number of full-time equivalent counselors to 42, and expanded Campus Recreation offerings.

Other initiatives:

  • Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center This is a one-stop resource center in the heart of the campus (first floor of the Memorial Union), helping to mitigate the effects of food and housing insecurity, and also supporting students in their financial and mental wellness.
  • The ASUCD PantryWe are here to fight food insecurity, promote health, fresh food and ensure that all students have access to food and basic necessities. The Pantry is a free resource for all Aggies! Let’s build a community to battle food insecurity together.”
  • Student Expression All about the First Amendment, laws and policies and the UC Davis Principles of Community. How to exercise your rights and find support for a variety of situations, including hurtful speech.
  • Student housingUC Davis is far along in adding bed spaces as called for in the 2018 Long Range Development Plan. On top of the 2016-17 baseline of 9,800 beds, the LRDP called for 6,180 new beds by 2025 — and all are completed except for the 1,400 now under construction in the new Orchard Park.

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