Well, This Is Something: UC President Responds to Pepper Spray

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This afternoon the President of the University of California system, Mark Yudof, issued a statement about the pepper-spraying abuse at UC Davis and the baton-beating abuse at UC Berkeley. The oddly detached "mistakes were made" initial response* from UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi had only made things worse.

Yudof has come in for his share of criticism and controversy over the years, mainly about budget and salary issues. But from the very first words of this statement he strikes what I think is just the right note. From the UC news office.

University of California President Mark G. Yudof today (Nov. 20) announced the actions he is taking in response to recent campus protest issues:

I am appalled by images of University of California students being doused with pepper spray and jabbed with police batons on our campuses.

I intend to do everything in my power as president of this university to protect the rights of our students, faculty and staff to engage in non-violent protest.

Chancellors at the UC Davis and UC Berkeley campuses already have initiated reviews of incidents that occurred on their campuses. I applaud this rapid response and eagerly await the results.

The University of California, however, is a single university with 10 campuses, and the incidents in recent days cry out for a systemwide response....

"I am appalled," "everything in my power," "protect the rights," "non-violent protest," "cry out" -- these are just words, but they're encouraging words to hear from the head of the system right now. Let's see what actions follow. [Thanks to R. Richards.]
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* For comparison, this was Linda Katehi one day earlier:

"Yesterday was not a day that would make anyone on our campus proud," Katehi said in her statement. Then, at the news conference, she called the use of pepper spray "chilling."

"The use of pepper spray as shown on the video is chilling to us all and raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this," she said.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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