Crowds of as many as 200 or more people turned out this week for three causes:
• In the largest turnout, student-athletes and their supporters held a rally and town hall on Wednesday (May 19) to protest the elimination of four sports teams.
• Fifty people gathered the same day to take on budget cuts in ethnic studies.
• A smaller group set out to “reclaim the Quad.”
The Quad event began Tuesday (May 18) with the pitching of tents on the north end. Campouts took place Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with a half-dozen or so people staying each night, according to the campus Police Department.
The athletics protest included a rally on the front steps of Mrak Hall, starting at about 4:30 p.m., and a town hall meeting afterward at the university Conference Center.
Speakers exhorted the university to reinstate the teams — women’s rowing, and men’s wrestling, swimming and diving, and indoor track and field — for at least a year, allowing time for fundraising and the exploration of other ways to spare the teams.
“We’re asking for one year and once chance,” Joey Chen, controller of the Associated Students of UC Davis, said at the town hall.
In an open letter to the campus community in late April, Chancellor Linda Katehi affirmed her decision to discontinue the four teams, among 27 overall in Intercollegiate Athletics.
Senior Associate Athletics Director Nona Richardson, addressing the town hall, said recruitment of student-athletes and coaches would be difficult if the university took a year-by-year approach to team funding.
In addition, Richardson said she doubted whether fundraising would bring in the necessary sums to save the sports.
An immediate endowment of about $7.35 million would be needed to generate sufficient ongoing revenue to save one team, Richardson said. And an endowment of like size would be required to save a team of the opposite gender — to comply with federal Title IX.
Among the speakers who urged the teams’ reinstatement: Dan Gable, an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling and former head coach at the University of Iowa; ASUCD President Jack Zwald; a parent of a student-athlete; and alumni.
Organizers urged supporters to call their legislators and talk to their neighbors and others who could provide financial support.
Across campus, some 50 students and faculty members gathered for a town hall to protest recent budget cuts to ethnic studies and other programs in Hart Hall.
Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, said the reductions would consolidate administrative support, but not departments and programs.
Organizers of the forum had warned that ethnic studies faced “the risk of being systematically dismantled and homogenized into a single program.”
Owens told the gathering: “These are incredibly painful cuts for everybody. We have tried very hard to do the cuts in a way that is equitable across the division.”
Senior public information representatives Julia Ann Easley, Andy Fell and Jim Sweeney of the UC Davis News Service contributed to this report.