Fostering and celebrating diversity at UC Davis is integral to being a world-class university that leads by example. Campus leadership, students, faculty and staff all play an important role in creating and reflecting a welcoming climate.
Below are UC Davis efforts and actions related to specific areas of concern raised by protesters.
Concern: Failing to appropriately address anti-Blackness and Islamophobia on campus
In 2015, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi launched the African American Strategic Retention Initiative and established a Center for African Diaspora Student Success. The center provides academic support and mentorship to our African American students. Similar centers are planned for or our Native American and Latina/o students.
The chancellor has also held several meetings at the request of African diaspora student leaders and has responded specifically to their list of concerns. With the Center for African Diaspora Student Success in place, specific student demands for tutoring and holistic and professional advising services are being addressed.
At the same time, Matt Carmichael, the UC Davis chief of police, has been implementing changes recommended by the African diaspora student community that include:
- Expediting the addition of emergency call boxes on campus with the first eight to be installed no later than May 10, 2016.
- Improving campus lighting in areas of concern that were identified by students in campus safety walks.
- Hosting free self-defense classes for students, which are now ongoing.
- Adding an additional Safe Rides van.
- A Safe Rides bus route on peak days starting in mid-May to reduce wait times.
- Working to improve Safe Rides phone service and student pick-up locations.
In response to student demands for more “black course offerings,” the Academic Senate has initiated a comprehensive review of existing diversity courses that will be completed by the end of summer quarter.
The claim about failing to address Islamophobia on campus is unfounded.
Chancellor Katehi has met on several occasions with groups of Muslim students to hear and understand their concerns. As a result, Student Affairs is raising money for the Muslim Student Association to provide the campus community with education and increased cultural awareness.
The chancellor is committed to ongoing conversations with our Muslim student community and all students regarding their needs.
Concern: Blocking the proposal to divest from companies that perpetuate the Israeli occupation of Palestine
No campus or chancellor has authority to block an action taken regarding divestment. Individual UC campuses do not make decisions about divestment. These are strictly the purview of the UC Board of Regents.
The ASUCD voted in February 2015 to call for divestment in firms doing business in Israel, and UC Davis administrators referred its leaders to UC Board of Regents policy approved in 2006, which states, in part, that the regents will approve divestment "from a foreign government only when the United States government declares that a foreign regime is committing acts of genocide.”
Concern: Increasing police presence on campus, as well as the militarization of their weapons and equipment
Our campus is a leader in the UC system when it comes to police activities and policies. Over the past several years, at the direction of Chancellor Katehi and Provost Ralph J. Hexter, Chief Carmichael has implemented a number of important reforms to improve police-community relations and overall campus safety. Those include:
- Creation of the nation's first university-based community police review board to ensure that complaints against police officers are reviewed by an independent panel.
- Creation of the UC Davis Cadet Academy that has led to increased diversity on the campus police force with the hiring of six UC Davis graduates of the academy.
- Ensuring that all UC Davis police policies and procedures are compatible with California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
- Adding bike officers to regularly patrol campus — in response to student requests — and designating two officers for outreach and engagement with the campus community.
- Establishment of the Student Advisory Council to the Chief of Police, so students can discuss safety concerns directly with the chief.
The number of sworn officers has declined from 53 to 48 over the past several years, with savings shifted into community policing and student safety programs.
UC Davis police, for instance, run the largest safe-ride program in the United States for students, which includes the Tipsy Taxi program. When the ASUCD was going to eliminate Tipsy Taxi, the campus Police Department partnered with the ASUCD to keep the program running.
Police are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and employ 130 student security guards in the campus Safe Rides program.
Chief Carmichael also has met with students and discussed police structure and response to community incidents, and such sessions are ongoing. Collaboration between our Police Department and the student community has directly impacted how service is delivered on campus.
Concern: Ignoring hate crimes
Hate crimes have not been ignored. Chancellor Katehi and other campus administrators have spoken out aggressively and promptly when hate crimes occurred and have involved multiple campus stakeholders in efforts to create a safe campus community for everyone. Of course, just as in society at large, there is no way to guarantee hate and bias incidents will never occur. Still, campus leadership has been, and will continue to be, absolutely committed to doing everything possible to confront issues of hate and bias and establish the Davis campus as a learning environment of tolerance and respect.
The campus Hate and Bias website includes quarterly reports on bias and hate incidents, with summaries and outcomes for each reported incident. We have also created an improved Report Hate and Bias website with detailed information about how and where to file such reports, including an explanation of how incidents are followed up on and investigated. No report is ignored. UC Davis has held perpetrators responsible when they can be identified and have referred cases to law enforcement when necessary. We have also acted to prevent such incidents from occurring whenever possible.
To cite just one recent example, when a 20-year-old African American student notified police that she had been assaulted outside a campus apartment complex, police immediately arrested three male suspects, two of whom were charged with assault and committing a hate crime, and the case was referred to the Yolo County district attorney. The DA has taken the case to court, where a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for May 2016.
We continue to seek opportunities to partner with students and our overall community to stand united against hatred and bigotry.
- Student Affairs has partnered with the Office of Campus Community Relations to create a restorative justice program.
- Student Affairs hosted student forums on how to report hate and bias incidents, a need identified by students.
- Student employees receive cultural sensitivity training.
Also, in March 2015, the chancellor created the Student Council on Campus Climate so student leaders can more readily share their concerns about how local, national and international events affect campus climate and safety.
Concern: Personally blocking the request for foot sinks in the Student Community Center and furthering Islamophobic behavior and policy on campus
Chancellor Katehi has had several meetings with members of the UC Davis Muslim community, as noted above, and continues to speak out publicly for tolerance and understanding for all members of the UC Davis community. On the specific question of foot sinks, the chancellor instructed Student Affairs to meet with the Muslim community last quarter to identify solutions for addressing this concern and hopes to find a solution shortly.
Concern: Allowing for the pepper spraying of student protesters during the Occupy movement on campus in 2011
The chancellor instructed campus police not to use force with the protestors when the police were directed to remove protesters from the campus Quad, since the encampment had been erected in violation of UC policy. After the incident, the chancellor apologized to the affected students and to the community for the unsanctioned actions of the police officers who used pepper spray. Appropriate disciplinary actions were taken with campus police.
In addition, Chancellor Katehi then ordered a comprehensive review of campus police procedures and all campus safety policies, and the campus Police Department has been reformed under her leadership.
Under leadership from Chief Carmichael, the campus community began implementing a number of reforms to make the UC Davis Police Department a national model, including:
- Creating the nation’s first Police Accountability Board, a transparent and community-oriented review board that allows the community to file complaints about police service without having to go to the police to do so.
- Ensuring that all UC Davis police policies and procedures are aligned and compatible with the standards set forth by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
- Increasing the number of bike officers to regularly patrol the campus in response to student requests.
- Assigning two police officers to specifically work on outreach and engagement with the campus community.
- Instituting the Neighborhood Courts Program, the only university program of its kind in the nation, participating in a district attorney-led criminal offender restorative justice program, with students, faculty and staff serving on the community panels.