A Hate-Filled 'Experiment' in Printing

Principles Against intolerance

Chancellor Katehi invoked UC's new Principles Against Intolerance in condemning the hate-filled fliers.

“Our university takes very seriously incidents that are intimidating, threatening or hostile to any member of the UC Davis community, as illustrated by the Principles Against Intolerance approved just one day ago by the UC Board of Regents,” Katehi wrote in an email message to the campus community on March 25, the day the fliers appeared.

“The principles are a powerful affirmation of the UC’s commitment to academic freedom and free speech and an equally powerful declaration that intolerance and hate have no place on our campuses.”

The regents voted unanimously March 24 to adopt the principles as put forth by a working group. Read them here in the Board of Regents agenda item (PDF).

Katehi was the only chancellor in the working group that also included regents, a faculty representative and the UC system’s vice provost-chief outreach officer.

The agenda material includes an explanation of the competing demands the university and the working group dealt with as they tried to balance the principles with the First Amendment and academic freedom.

Experiment or not, UC Davis had no use for the racist and anti-Semitic fliers that several campus printers spat out last Friday (March 25).

“We condemn this latest affront to our community in the strongest terms possible,” Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi wrote that day (the university’s César Chávez holiday) in an email to the campus community.

The campus Police Department looped in the FBI while Information and Educational Technology, or IET, began an investigation.

Saturday, a “hacktivist” and white supremacist claimed online that he had accessed networked printers at UC Davis and other universities in a “brief experiment” targeting printers that have open connections to the Internet.

Strong firewalls can block this kind of manipulation, and the UC Davis Information Security Office is working to help departments protect their printers.

“I do not think his ‘real’ intent was to expose printers, but to offend and anger people,” said Cheryl Washington, UC Davis’ chief information security officer. “Our firewalls are not inherently vulnerable. However, infrastructure is vulnerable if safeguards like our firewalls are not properly hardened.”

Dewight Kramer of IET Information Security said his team had received reports of fewer than a dozen fliers coming out of UC Davis printers.

Kramer explained that UC Davis, like most universities, has no campuswide firewall. But departments and units maintain their own firewalls, and, indeed, the strongest of those kept last week’s hate-filled flier from coming through, he said. “Fliers like this one are very easy to block,” he said.

According to published reports, the flier also showed up at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz; Brown University; California State University, Long Beach; Clark University; DePaul University; Northeastern University; Oregon State University; Princeton University; Smith College; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; University of Oregon; University of Rhode Island; University of Southern California; and University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

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Media Resources

Dave Jones, News and Media Relations, 530-752-6556, dljones@ucdavis.edu

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