UC Davis students face disciplinary threat as chancellor protest continues

Katehi protesters explain their position in words and song

Katehi protesters explain their position in words and song
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Katehi protesters explain their position in words and song

Students demanding the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi faced a threat of disciplinary action as they remained Monday outside her office in a protest against her involvement with private corporate boards.

Graduate student Emily Breuninger, 27, said about 20 students were in the office early Monday. They received a letter from a vice chancellor informing them that staying at Mrak Hall, the campus administration building, would result in a report of misconduct and disciplinary consequences.

“I guess, basically, we’re playing a game of chicken so far,” Breuninger said. “We’re going to see if they force us out.”

Another student said there had been no sightings of Katehi by midmorning Monday.

So far, no one from the administration has collected their names, said Annie Ashmore, 21. The administration letter said that failing to identify themselves to campus officials would be an additional violation of school policy.

“Our plans are to stay here until she agrees to come and meet with us,” Ashmore said.

The protest has turned into a massive study session for the student protesters, who are taking finals this week, she said.

Ashmore said the students have received a lot of support from the school community and have had to turn away food because there have been so many offers.

UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis said in an email that the students had been told they could make an appointment to meet with the chancellor.

“Consistent with our normal practice, the students have been given a letter from a university administrator responsible for facilities notifying them of student code of conduct, and their need to comply with those standards,” Topousis wrote. “Representatives from Student Affairs communicated to the students on Friday that Chancellor Katehi would meet with them and requested they make an appointment; that offer remains open and was communicated to them again today.”

The letter given to the protesters, signed by David Lawlor, vice chancellor and chief financial officer, notifies them that “it is the university’s preference that you leave the fifth floor voluntarily” rather than have officials send a report of misconduct to the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs.

The protest began at noon Friday, when about 50 students began marching around campus shouting for Katehi’s resignation. About 35 of them marched up to the fifth floor of the administration building and asked to speak with the chancellor, but after being told she was not available, they began their sit-in.

Unlike in 2011, when student protesters were pepper-sprayed by campus police, this student action has remained peaceful and initially drew no obvious police presence. One of the students taking part in the sit-in, Kyla Burke, said in an email that police were present throughout the weekend.

“The cops were very obviously there the whole weekend,” Burke wrote. “They patrolled the first four floors of the building every couple hours. Additionally they came up to the fifth floor Sunday morning, despite the fact we were assured (they) would not do that.”

Administrators brought food to the students and have said Katehi respects their right to speak out, but the protest apparently spread over the weekend, with photos posted on Twitter showing some statues on campus spray painted with demands that Katehi be fired.

Katehi faces criticism for her decision to accept a seat on the board of the for-profit DeVry Education Group, a post she subsequently resigned. Two state lawmakers called on her to resign after The Sacramento Bee reported that she received $420,000 over three fiscal years as a board member for John Wiley & Sons, a publisher of textbooks and educational materials.

UC President Janet Napolitano has said Katehi made a mistake in accepting the DeVry seat, but told The Bee last week that she should remain in her post as chancellor.

A peaceful protest Friday seeking the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi morphed into a sit-in in her office lobby with 35 students and protesters criticizing her acceptance of questionable board seats.

University of California President Janet Napolitano says UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi had good intentions when she accepted a seat on the board of DeVry Education Group. The chancellor has since apologized and taken other appropriate measures,

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi has undergone significant scrutiny and criticism during her tenure at the university, stemming from incidents such as the pepper-spraying of peacefully protesting students to her service on corporate boards.

Sam Stanton: 916-321-1091, @StantonSam

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