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

By James Fallows

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/well-this-is-something-uc-president-responds-to-pepper-spray/248786/