President Mark G. Yudof
Joint Hearing: Assembly Higher Education Committee and Senate Education Committee
Subject: UC and CSU policies, procedures & responses: campus police and on campus demonstrations
December 14, 2011
10:00 a.m. - Capitol Room 4203
Thank you, Assembly Member Block, Senator Lowenthal and members.
As President of the University of California, I believe strongly that universities are special places for the peaceful exchange of different viewpoints and ideas.
I take great pride in the richness and variety of voices on UC campuses. I have said many times that free speech is in the DNA of this university. And it is a value that we must protect with vigilance.
As a result, I believe it is critical that our campuses provide an environment for robust but peaceful discourse. And I intend to do everything in my power as UC president to protect the rights of our students, faculty and staff to engage in non-violent protest.
Like you, I am deeply distressed by images of University of California students being sprayed with pepper spray at UC Davis and jabbed with police batons at UC Berkeley. I of course never want to see pain inflicted on students.
Chancellor Katehi at UC Davis and Chancellor Birgeneau at UC Berkeley, have already initiated reviews of incidents that occurred on their campuses to see how these situations could have been avoided. I applaud this rapid response. And I eagerly await the results.
The University of California, however, is a single university with 10 campuses. These recent incidents demand a systemwide response. And I have taken a series of immediate steps to set that response in motion.
Directly following the UC Davis incident, I convened all 10 chancellors by telephone. We engaged in a full and unfettered discussion about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response when upholding health and safety laws and regulations in the context of non-violent protest.
At the same time, at the request of Chancellor Katehi, I initiated a thorough review of the events at UC Davis, where police efforts to enforce rules against encampments also led to confrontation with students. As a first step, I asked former Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton to undertake an independent fact-finding of the pepper spray incident.
Chief Bratton, who also led the New York City police department, now heads the New York-based Kroll consulting company as chairman. He is a renowned expert in progressive community policing.
This fact-finding will be thorough, rapid and subject to scrutiny. My intent is to provide the chancellor and the entire University of California community with an independent, unvarnished report about what happened at Davis.
The Kroll team arrived on campus Tuesday, November 29th, and has worked continuously since, even on weekends. It is my expectation that Chief Bratton will report the results back to me in early January. His report will also be presented to Chancellor Katehi and to a task force I have formed that is being chaired by former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso. As a matter of fact, the task force met for the first time yesterday.
My intent in forming this task force is to allow the UC Davis community to take a fair and uncompromising look at what happened on November 18th.
In addition to Justice Reynoso, the 12 other members of the task force are primarily UC Davis students (appointed by the student association), faculty, staff, and community members nominated by relevant campus organizations outside the UC Davis Police Department. We have provided a list of the task force membership to you today.
The task force will carefully review Chief Bratton's fact-finding report. They will then make recommendations to me and to Chancellor Katehi regarding improvements to police procedures, command protocols and campus policies and oversight structures. These will help ensure that the rights and safety of nonviolent protestors and the entire campus community are protected.
I have also directed UC General Counsel Charles Robinson and UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley to lead a systemwide examination of police policies at all 10 UC campuses. This effort will include discussions with students, faculty and staff, as well as consultation with an array of experts.
This review is intended to be prospective. It is expected to result in recommended best practices for policing protests at our university going forward, and I have brought Charlie with me here today to talk to you more about this effort.
At UC Berkeley, Chancellor Birgeneau has called on Professor Jesse Choper, a former law dean and current chair of the UC Berkeley Police Review Board, to launch an independent review of police actions during the Occupy Cal protests. Professor Choper is a distinguished scholar and expert on constitutional law. I applaud this response and eagerly await the results of the review.
Now, my intention in these undertakings is not to micromanage our campus police forces. The sworn officers who serve on our campuses are professionals dedicated to the protection of the UC community.
Nor do I wish to micromanage the chancellors. They are the leaders of our campuses and they have my full trust and confidence.
Nonetheless, the recent incidents make clear that the time has come to take strong action to recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest.
In closing, I'd like to reiterate that UC students, faculty, staff and our regents all share a passion for the university and its role in shaping a better society.
I am very proud of UC students who are speaking out with conviction in support of public higher education across the state. And I want all our students to know that I fully and unequivocally support their right to protest peacefully. I will do everything in my power to ensure that right is protected at the University of California.
Thank you, members. This concludes my remarks.
While I am pleased to answer your questions, let me first ask Charles Robinson, the university's general counsel, to take a few minutes to address the other issues you have raised regarding current practices and policies governing the way campus demonstrations are supposed to be handled and the rules that govern use of force.