The standoff between UC Davis students and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi continued Monday as Katehi issued a new promise to work with them and protesters announced a Friday press conference to reiterate their demand she resign.
Students have been occupying the reception area outside Katehi’s Mrak Hall office since March 11, when a protest march seeking her ouster turned into a sit-in that has continued through spring break and into this week.
Katehi met with the students briefly, but they remain unsatisfied and want her to resign over her acceptance of seats on private corporate boards. Katehi has stepped down from the boards and sent statements explaining her actions to students and faculty. The controversy has led to some lawmakers calling for her resignation and the scheduling of a legislative hearing next week.
On Monday, she sent another message out to the campus via email saying administrators “have regularly invited the protestors to a conversation about their concerns.”
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“I welcome the opportunity to have a genuine dialogue with them,” Katehi’s message stated. “I will continue to seek opportunities to engage with them, as well as with our larger student body. Meaningful discussions about issues related to our campus are essential to a vibrant university and are at the heart of what makes UC Davis outstanding.”
The students counter that Katehi has made no real effort to speak with them.
“After her brief appearance, we repeatedly asked admin to provide us with dates to meet and have never been given any,” graduate student Emily Breuninger told The Sacramento Bee in an email Monday.
Breuninger said the protesters believe Katehi “has attempted to circumvent protestors by arranging meetings with other campus groups...while leaving us out of the conversation.”
The protestors have set up a series of shifts that allowed them to study, make it to exams and maintain a presence in the reception area, where they have been supplied with food brought both by students and university officials.
The protesters say they will have a press conference in front of the administration building Friday at noon.
“This gives Katehi an opportunity to answer questions regarding her resignation in a transparent manner,” Breuninger wrote.
Although Katehi was not in her office at the start of the protest, her letter Monday indicated that campus operations are not being affected and that students will not be removed by force, as protesters on the Quad were in 2011 when campus police pepper-sprayed them.
“As long as the occupation proceeds non-violently and in a safe manner, we will continue to work with the protestors,” Katehi wrote. “Our staff in Student Affairs is available to ensure their well-being and safety. My office and all other offices in Mrak Hall will continue to operate normally.”