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John Felde | University of Maryland | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

Recent Events at UC Davis

By now, I would imagine anyone tech savvy enough to be following this blog site has been exposed to the chilling stories, images, and videos of the events which took place last week at my university.

Not surprisingly, the actions of the university police, called for by the administration, have greatly enraged the students, alumni, staff, faculty, and friends of UC Davis.  A rally was held yesterday on the main quad to demonstrate, in overwhelming numbers, the disgust and shame felt by our community in light of these events.

In response to these events the undersigned faculty of the UC Davis Physics department have prepared a statement (original here):

Chancellor Linda Katehi                                     November 22, 2011

UC Davis

Dear Chancellor Katehi:

With a heavy heart and substantial deliberation, we the undersigned faculty of
the UC Davis physics department send you this letter expressing our lack of
confidence in your leadership and calling for your prompt resignation in the wake
of the outrageous, unnecessary, and brutal pepper spraying episode on campus
Friday, Nov. 18

The reasons for this are as follows.
•   The demonstrations were nonviolent, and the student encampments
posed no threat to the university community. The outcomes of sending in
police in Oakland, Berkeley, New York City, Portland, and Seattle should
have led you to exhaust all other options before resorting to police action.

•   Authorizing force after a single day of encampments constitutes a gross
violation of the UC Davis principles of community, especially the
commitment to civility: “We affirm the right of freedom of expression within
our community and affirm our commitment to the highest standards of
civility and decency towards all.”

•   Your response in the aftermath of these incidents has failed to restore
trust in your leadership in the university community.
We have appreciated your leadership during these difficult times on working to
maintain and enhance excellence at UC Davis. However, this incident and the
inadequacy of your response to it has already irreparably damaged the image of
UC Davis and caused the faculty, students, parents, and alumni of UC Davis to
lose confidence in your leadership. At this point we feel that the best thing that
you can do for this university is to take full responsibility and resign immediately.
Our campus community deserves a fresh start.


Andreas Albrecht                Glen Erickson                   Lori Lubin
(chair)                         Chris Fassnacht                 Markus Luty
Marusa Bradac                   Daniel Ferenc                   Michael Mulhearn
Steve Carlip                    Ching Fong                      David Pellett
Hsin-Chia Cheng                 Giulia Galli                    Wendell Potter
Maxwell Chertok                 Nemanja Kaloper                 Sergey Savrasov
John Conway                     Joe Kiskis                      Richard Scalettar
Daniel Cox                      Lloyd Knox                      Robert Svoboda
James P. Crutchfield            Dick Lander                     John Terning
Mani Tripathi
David Webb
David Wittman
Dong Yu
Gergely Zimanyi


Myself, along with many graduate and undergraduate students, stand with our faculty, and appreciate their strong voice on our behalf.

  • Xezlec

    Why not fire the unapologetic and directly-responsible cop instead of the apologetic and indirectly-responsible administrator? Also, isn’t it possible that this is getting a little overblown? A cop got carried away and abused his power a bit when his way was blocked by somebody. A whole nation of hundreds of millions of people is now all up in arms over some temporary pain for a handful of ballsy kids that is all gone by now anyway. I could understand if it made the local news, but aren’t there bigger issues for the entire United States of America to worry about?

    And I apologize if this sentiment causes any offense or if it sounds like I’m trivializing anything or defending the cop. That’s not my intention.

  • I enjoy reading the physics blog postings on this site but was truly impacted by the images of the police action against students at UC Davis. Back in the 1960s when I was a university student I was very much involved in student protest to the point of occupation of one of the campus buildings at University of Toronto. Through it all our university faculty and administration acted with considerable patience. Eventually they invited us to participate in a dialog about the issues that were the focus of our rage. The Vietnam War, poverty, the Cold War, and local educational issues were the drivers for numerous nonviolent protests. But at no time did we witness police doing what the videos and still pictures display. It is frightening to see in a democratic society such a display of zealous abuse of power. I understand why your department has condemned both the action and the response of your university leadership. Thank you for letting others know about your response to what can only be described as a stupid act of overbearing behaviour by a person wielding authority without a brain.

  • I agree it’s quite overblown. i don’t think anyone should be fired, especially any of the police officers involved. I’m sure some of those police officers want wall street to change just as much as anybody. Police officers work hard for their salary, it’s a blue collar job-i don’t understand why disrespecting them and amping them up to use force is going to change wall street.

    and at the end of the day, it’s just tear gas. get over it.

  • Joanna F.

    Nate, you’d have made an excellent SS officer. Please do no procreate.