UC Davis Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi has got some explaining to do.
“[. . .] as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident.” Katehi, 20 Nov 2011, The Sacramento Bee
Sounds good, right?
“We told the police to remove the tents or the equipment [. . . .] We told them very specifically to do it peacefully, and if there were too many of them not to do it, if the students were aggressive not to do it. [. . .] We told [police chief Annette Spicuzza] that it has to be peaceful, that anything else would not be acceptable[.]” Katehi, 22 Nov 2011, The Bellingham Herald
As I said before, I feel sorry for Katehi and her pitiful attempts to salvage public opinion. I think the quotes are quite self-evident. If she were being truly forthcoming instead of trying to say pleasant things, she wouldn’t be trying different tacks.
When people say they will accept full responsibility of a situation, that usually means they will allow others to hold them responsible for resolving the problems caused by that situation. Translation: Katehi promised to not only try to appease the situation but also not blame others for the pepper spray incident.
Two days later, her quote essentially pointed fingers at the police officers who were already taking heat for it. Everyone has certain degrees of responsibility for what happened but Katehi’s contradictory statements are as awkward as those of a little kid caught lying about taking Jennie’s eraser when she wasn’t looking.
She obviously does not have the stomach to handle the bad publicity yet she forces herself to get out and keep talking.
I honestly think this has been blown way out of proportion. Last week, UC Davis was one of the more nondescript UCs, barely known for its agricultural program and post-graduate veterinary program. (They don’t call it the university of cow dung because the programs are shit but because half the campus smells like it.) A large but not overtly significant number of students gathered in solidarity with UC Berkeley as well as the Occupy movement. After a while, Katehi called the campus cops, who rarely if ever get called to help with anything remotely resembling a serious situation. They tried to be calm about it and get the job done, explaining that they would spray anyone who refused to leave before systematically doing so. The people sitting acknowledged this verbally. They then realized that PEPPER SPRAY FUCKING HURTS and started panicking and screaming, and the students started chanting, “Shame on you!” Naturally, everyone who wasn’t freaking out (and everyone who was) got out their cell phones and started filming their classmates.
Nice. Anyway. In case anyone didn’t know, UC Davis has a lot of students so a good number of those videos were uploaded onto Youtube. Next thing I knew, my friends’ friends from places like Russia and Japan (courtesy of Facebook) were checking in on our UC Davis friends demanding to know exactly what happened. The funny thing is that probably a good half of the campus didn’t even know there was such an incident until it made the evening news.
See what I mean? “Blown out of proportion” would be quite an adequate adjective phrase to follow the words “The UC Davis pepper spray incident” and the present passive form of our favorite intensive verb to be, “has been.” Did masses of people die like in Virginia Tech? No. Was there tear gas? No. Was there even campus-wide panic and chaos? Not even vaguely, yet people in Japan knew the details before I did. This is considered hot global news?