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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 29 · Number 3 · Spring 2012


Views on the pepper spraying

Photo: student recording images of rally with cell phone. Case reads: Keep Calm and Carry On

(Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Prior to the terrible events of November 2011, I was proud to call myself a UC Davis Aggie. . . . My pride faltered after our campus made national news in the most abhorrent way: due to violence.

I cannot make excuses for [what] happened, and I won't. I cannot condone the incident where student protestors were brutally assaulted, pepper-sprayed by campus police. It was horrific, and those involved should be punished to the full extent of the law. Truly, I have found myself ashamed to associate my name with the campus.

In the spirit of protest and educational exchange, however, I would like to offer an opinion: Like many other service members, our campus police are a segregated part of the UC community. Many people on the force are a part of a "blue-collar" legacy and have not had access to many of the same opportunities available to the students they are sworn to protect.

This is not to say that the whole of the campus police community has lacked an education. . . . Unfortunately, getting a higher education in this country has become more and more a thing of privilege. . . . If we truly want to eliminate campus police brutality, then we have to eliminate the "us" and "them" legacy. We cannot expect fairness when we perpetuate a system that is, at its core, unfair.

To heal our campus, we need to get at the root of the problem. Perhaps we extend the privilege of education to all of our campus employees who make our campus work? It's just a thought. But it's a start.

Hilary Hodge '05
Grass Valley

Those involved had ample warning that they should move or be sprayed. Instead of apologizing, the chancellor should have commended the police and expelled the students.

No future police officer, employer, or spouse will ever thank UC Davis officials for the "lessons" they are teaching students from this incident.

Rebecca (Price) Turnblade '87
Chandler, Ariz.

As a child of the '60s whose colleagues were touched by the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, I was appalled to see that nonviolent protestors were attacked in such a way. As an Oakland resident I was also disturbed at the way our city handled the occupy movement.

My grandparents were immigrants who came to this country seeking freedom. Freedom includes the right to protest wrongs. I have often been a little concerned to see the students of today not doing anything when fees and costs of education have been rising and jobs have been shipped overseas. So, I feel a strong tie to the students who were pepper-sprayed and admire them for sitting down for their beliefs.

We have a great country. I am a veteran who served because I wanted to continue to be a full citizen of our country, vote at a time of the draft, and still did things like join GIs for McGovern.

So, I would hope that my fellow alumni will recognize that the woman or man who sits down for her or his beliefs today will be the alumnus and donor of tomorrow.

Howard Egerman '68

I understand and support the need for peaceful protest, but don't we also teach our young people to obey authority? The tents were put up "in violation of campus policy." The protestors were asked over a period of several days to take them down. "Some did comply, and police removed the rest who did not, making 10 arrests." Whether the use of pepper spray was necessary or justified, I can't answer, but they certainly should have been arrested. How compliant the protestors were, I don't know. Peaceful protests means peaceful. If they were responding in a violent manner, resisting arrest, perhaps the pepper spray was justified. But they should have just packed up or been willing to face the consequences for their actions.

Scott Pearson '76

You've got to be kidding.

I find it incredible that the majority of opinions expressed in the media over the pepper-spray incident label delinquent students as victims and law enforcement officers as suspects. I was further appalled that the chancellor felt the need to apologize for the attempts to maintain order on campus. This leads to the conclusion that the university supports students who willfully violate campus health and safety ordinances and who disobey the orders of law enforcement, while it turns its back on the safety of law-abiding students and further diminishes already limited funding to address the needs of demonstrators. Shame on the selfishness of the university and the demonstrators. And by the way, what was it they were protesting — Wall Street, tuition increases, having to study?

Marilyn Fink
San Diego

I think the [winter 2012] cover says it all, Net Zero. Net Zero Accountability. Net Zero Self-Awareness. Net Zero Shame.

What little respect for your alumni, giving us this cover, this content after what took place on Nov. 18. Any hope I had that the alumni magazine held some measure of editorial authority has evaporated.

Jeff Gire '05
San José

It's hard for me to imagine more of a firestorm if the police had bludgeoned the protesters to insensibility rather than pepper spraying. What were the police to do? Simply ask the people to leave and go away? Someone suggested that the resisters should have simply been arrested and taken away. I wasn't there, so it's hard to judge, but I have seen attempts like that degenerate into something less "peaceful" (several Occupy events recently). Tasers? That would be a bit of overkill, I think, but certainly effective and preferable to being beaten or shot. If the police had been a bit less "dispassionate" would it have been better? Davis is beginning to look way too much like Berkeley in the '60s.

Robert Wright '64
Mechanicsburg, Penn.

Another World Series Aggie


Sig Mejdal '89 and Daniel Descalso '05–07 with the St. Louis Cardinals' World Series trophy.

I'd like to correct a serious error in your short article, "World Series Aggie," in the winter 2012 edition. While we are proud of Daniel Descalso's World Series performance, he is not the first Aggie with a World Series victory. Sig Mejdal '89 holds two World Series rings (2006 and 2011)—both with the Cardinals. Sig was the senior statistical analyst who helped draft Descalso to the Cardinals. This season, Sig has been hired by the Houston Astros as their new director of decision sciences, where he will help run their draft. Look for a third World Series ring with the Astros in 2013.

Doug Betts '88

Bike safety

The [winter 2012] cover shows a man and child on bicycle. Both wear helmets, but the child's is unsafely tilted back.

A helmet saved me a cracked head three times. Two things: I often see kids wearing helmets while the parents do not. Not a good example. And seemingly 90 percent of Davis students bike helmetless. Are they nuts? How many head injuries are treated in the campus ER? Can the university or campus police start an awareness campaign?

Thanks for the magazine and keeping me aware of all things Aggie!

Matt Mailander '90
Palm Desert

Sustaininability and population

The article "UC Davis West Village: A Visionary Model for 21st Century Living," by Clifton B. Parker and Kat Kerlin (winter 2012), reinforced in me a need to address an issue that should have been addressed decades ago — overpopulation.

"Sustainability that is both affordable and affective" is a wonderful goal to strive for, but it can be very frustrating when couples worldwide continue to over produce what consumes our natural resources — people. As population decreases through prevention, the cost of housing would go down, allowing more people to own their own home — and maybe even raise their own food through gardening and farming — another aspect of sustainability.

Jackie Leonard-Dimmick '73

Guns and alcohol

My family has long been associated with UC Davis. My father played football for coach Verne Hickey in 1941. My brother and several cousins earned degrees, plus two [family] members retired from positions of responsibility, one from a vineyard and the other with the primate center. I regularly read UC Davis Magazine. I enjoy the publication, and the majority of the time, feel the articles are informative and relevant, using good old-fashioned research. That is, until the Discoveries section in News and Notes [fall 2011] reported a study — done through the use of a telephone survey from 1996 to 1997 of supposedly 15,000 people (Where did this group come from?) — that concluded that "risky behaviors" go together!

According to the Violence Prevention Research Program, and the director Garen Wintemute, gun owners with concealed carry permits and drinking to excess are both considered risky behaviors.

Let's do another study, with another group of 15,000 with phone service, and see how they feel about their blatant misuse of funds on this insight.

Gregory Frank

Smiling 'snake' parent

I have been getting the magazine for 30 years now. I have always enjoyed and read at least parts of it, but now I look forward to each issue, thanks to the Parents page. As a parent of three now college-age "children," I get a kick out of Robin DeRieux's humor, insights and memories. I found [the winter 2012] article very clever, with her way of associating us parents with snake parents! Keep up your stories!

Thanks for the smiles.

Kelly Aspel Bednarski '83