Sunday, November 20, 2011

Letter from Prof. Art Shapiro to Chancellor Linda Katehi re #OccupyUCDavis

A lot of email flying around UC Davis right now. Some are from faculty who are sending copies of letters they have written to Chancellor Katehi regarding the current crisis on campus.

I am asking people if they are posting them anywhere not the web and if so I am posting links to them on Twitter. Art Shapiro a butterfly expert from the Evolution and Ecology Department sent this one around and said I could post it:
Chancellor Katehi: 
The image of the University of California, Davis has been damaged locally, nationally and internationally in a way that will be very difficult to repair. That was made clear to me when an old friend who is a member of the national media called me at home last night to talk about this. We talked for 20 minutes. He said --and I quote -- "This could be a game-changer, like Kent State, only thank God no one was killed!" Whatever decisions led to Friday's debacle and whoever made them, the time for mere "damage control" passed as soon as the video went viral. The video renders ludicrous the claim that the police felt threatened--by demonstrators sitting, arms linked, on the sidewalk! I have no doubt that a resolution of censure will be introduced and will pass, probably by acclamation, at an emergency meeting of the Representative Assembly of the Academic Senate. 

You must assume personal responsibility and apologize on behalf of the University to the entire University community, sincerely and in plain language, without any bureaucratese or references to the task force and its mandate. If you do, there is at least a chance that escalation of the situation can be averted. If you do not... 
I am in my 40th year at this institution. I was at Penn and Cornell in the 60s and know campus crisis from the inside. I have seen crises at Davis before, but never anything like this. Not an hour before the police moved onto the Quad, I was observing to a friend that Davis is not Berkeley, and "vive la difference!" Before this incident, that was a fair statement. Now the shock and the fury are all too palpable, and the fundamental dynamic has changed -- and a replay of Berkeley in the 60s looms. 
Please make the right decision, and do so at once. Time is an ally only of the forces of unreason now. 
Arthur M. Shapiro
Distinguished Professor, Evolution & Ecology

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