One week after occupying the space outside UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi’s office, students remained camped out Friday in protest of her involvement with several private corporate boards. They say they have no plans of leaving.
On Friday morning, the fifth-floor lobby of Mrak Hall – the UC Davis building that holds Katehi’s office – was scattered with blankets, pillows and personal belongings. Crammed in a nearby hallway, student protesters chatted, studied and snacked.
Dana Topousis, a spokeswoman for UC Davis, said the university has no intention of ending the protest.
Katehi, 62, has been under fire since The Sacramento Bee reported this month that she took a paid seat on the board of DeVry Education Group while the company faces federal allegations of exaggerated career placement claims. The Bee subsequently reported she had received $420,000 over a three-year period for serving on the board of John Wiley & Sons, a major textbook publisher.
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Katehi has since left her position at DeVry, apologized and donated $200,000 in Wiley stock toward a student scholarship fund. UC President Janet Napolitano has said that Katehi has “good intentions” and should remain chancellor of UC Davis.
Over the past week, nearly 70 students have participated in the protests, with a core group of around 40 sleeping overnight, in hopes that Katehi will either be fired or step down from her position as chancellor. Annie Ashmore, 21, a third-year student, said she does not think Katehi should sit on paid boards at “organizations detrimental to students” while serving as UC Davis chancellor.
On Tuesday, protesters had a brief encounter with Katehi in which they verbally demanded her resignation. When Katehi suggested a formal meeting be held in her office the following day to discuss student concerns, the protesters refused and vowed to remain put.
On Monday, campus administration also confronted the students, threatening them with disciplinary action – including dismissal from the university – should they continued to camp outside Katehi’s office.
“After that, things were really tense,” Kyla Burke, 22, said. “A lot of people were serious about giving up and leaving, but we (protesters) spoke for several hours after and decided it was crucial to stay.”
As UC Davis wraps up finals week and heads into a weeklong spring break, the group plans to continue its protest. Several have canceled spring break plans, or plan to stop by throughout spring break in solidarity with fellow protesters, Burke said.