University of California President Mark Yudof convened the chancellors of all 10 campuses by teleconference Monday, saying “we cannot let this happen again,” in response to the pepper-spraying of protesters at UC Davis on Friday.
Campus leaders must do everything possible to protect the rights of students, faculty and staff to peaceful protest, Yudof said in a news release.
Yudof reiterated that he was appalled by the images of students being doused with pepper spray at UCD on Friday and jabbed with batons at UC Berkeley more than a week ago. In a New York times opinion piece published Sunday, former U.S. poet Robert Hass, a faculty member there who was protesting alongside students at UC Berkeley, described being hit in the ribs.
During Monday’s teleconference, Yudof told the chancellors he had directed senior UC Office of the President staff to move immediately on several fronts to:
* Examine recent incidents involving use of force on UC campuses;
* Organize a thorough examination of police procedures, protocols and training; and
* Put in place a structure to assemble recommendations for longer-term practices to ensure the safety of UC community members engaged in peaceful protest.
While expressing his confidence in the leadership of UC chancellors, Yudof said he was directing senior staff to work with all of the campus police chiefs to bring together policies governing use of force at each of the locations, as well as requirements for the presence of senior administrators and observers in certain situations.
Further details about plans for the systemwide reviews of specific incidents of use of force and current protocols are expected to be shared with the public this week, the news release said.
Yudof earlier had announced that a panel of experts and stakeholders will “conduct a thorough, far-reaching and urgent assessment of campus police procedures involving use of force, including post-incident review processes.”
Yudof said he did not wish to “micromanage” chancellors — “They are the leaders of our campuses and they have my full trust and confidence,” he said — or campus police.
“Nonetheless, the recent incidents make clear the time has come to take strong action to recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest,” he said. “As I have said before, free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and nonviolent protest has long been central to our history. It is a value we must protect with vigilance.”
UC Board of Regents chair Sherry Lansing said in a video statement Monday that she too was “shocked and appalled” by the images of police actions during the protests at UCD and UC Berkeley.
Lansing said she supports UC President Mark Yudof’s effort to review systemwide procedures so that students can engage in peaceful protests.
“We regents share your passion and your conviction for the University of California,” Lansing says. “We want all of you to know that we fully and unequivocally support your right to protest peacefully.”
Lansing also invited the public to express their views at the Board of Regents meeting on Nov. 28. The public comment period has been expanded from 20 minutes to at least one hour.