After the Pepper Spray

 Katehi

The chancellor of the University of California at Davis, Linda Katehi (right), promised to speed up the task force she’s set up to investigate the incident last Friday where campus police used pepper spray on seated, nonviolent student protesters.

According to an Associated Press piece:

Katehi… set a 30-day deadline for her school’s task force investigating the incident to issue its report. The task force, comprised of students, staff and faculty, will be chosen this week. She earlier had set a 90-day timetable.

“I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident,” Katehi said Sunday. “However, I pledge to take the actions needed to ensure that this does not happen again. I feel very sorry for the harm our students were subjected to and I vow to work tirelessly to make the campus a more welcoming and safe place.”

Many in California are demanding the Katehi take slightly more responsibility and just resign. Even the English department at the school has this message right on its homepage:

The faculty of the UC Davis English Department supports the Board of the Davis Faculty Association in calling for Chancellor Katehi’s immediate resignation and for “a policy that will end the practice of forcibly removing non-violent student, faculty, staff, and community protesters by police on the UC Davis campus.” Further, given the demonstrable threat posed by the University of California Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to the safety of students, faculty, staff, and community members on our campus and others in the UC system, we propose that such a policy include the disbanding of the UCPD and the institution of an ordinance against the presence of police forces on the UC Davis campus, unless their presence is specifically requested by a member of the campus community.

A “task force” is unlikely to result in meaningful change at Davis. Task force reports are usually created to address an incident in need of investigation. There’s not really much of a mystery here.

Several protestors apparently intend to file a civil rights lawsuit. The students were part of the Occupy protest movement.

Note to UC Davis protesters: the lawsuit is all well and good but this is a protest movement; this might be a good time to start demanding free tuition again, as was promised in the 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education. California taxpayers might finally be on your side.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer