A joint Senate-Assembly panel held a four hour hearing today on recent UC campus police policies, and featured such student bête noires as UC President Mark Yudof and UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi among the officials set to speak.

Photo: Vinnee Tong/KQED

The hearing grows out of November student protests against tuition hikes at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, both of which turned violent, with campus police taking much of the blame.

At UC Berkeley, video of police aggressively thrusting their batons into students and yanking them by the hair prompted UC Berkeley President Robert Birgeneau to apologize and “extend my sympathies to any of you who suffered an injury during these protests.”

At UC Davis, video of a campus police Lieutenant causally pepper-spraying seated student protesters caused an international sensation. The university suspended two police officers over the incident, and the campus police chief was put on administrative leave. Chancellor Linda Katehi also came under fire, with students and faculty calling for her resignation.

UC President Mark Yudof appointed former Los Angeles police chief William Bratton to conduct an independent investigation into the pepper spray incidents. He also appointed Charles Robinson, the university’s general counsel and the UC Berkeley law school dean, to examine police protocols and policies at all 10 UC campuses.

Katehi responded to criticisms at the hearing, saying she did not direct police to use pepper spray.

“Should I be the one to provide tactical directions? Unless I know as a person of the specifics of law enforcement, I would never think that the chancellor would be in the right position to prescribe tactically what should happen,” Katehi said.

When challenged by Assemblyman Marty Block, a San Diego Democrat and chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, Katehi said that she would have done things differently.

“If I knew the police could not remove the tents peacefully, we would not have removed them,” she said.

Protesters were also pepper-sprayed at CSU Long Beach.

State Senator Alan Lowenthal, chair of the hearing, tied the issue of campus protests back to the state budget cuts that prompted tuition hikes.

“Without additional revenues to help address these shortfalls, we can expect that the frustration that our students and our campus communities feel about funding for higher education will only be exacerbated,” Lowenthal said.

This year, UC tuition for in-state undergrads and graduate students rose $1,890 to $12,192 a year, which doesn’t include room, board and roughly $1,000 in campus fees. That’s 18 percent more than they paid last year and more than three times rates from a decade ago.

Without a boost in state funding, and with recent trigger cuts, tuition is likely to rise again next year.

The Daily Cal was live-tweeting the hearing:

Agenda from the Senate Education Committee web site:

1. Welcome and Hearing Purpose

Are there tools/policies that the Legislature should support or implement to facilitate the effective management of non-violent campus demonstrations, while ensuring freedom of speech, assembly and public safety?

2. “Use of Force” Policies, Procedures, and Responses

• What are the standards/policies/training that govern the “use of force” by law enforcement entities?

• What are the bounds of legal free speech? What is an appropriate police response to nonviolent but illegal activity?

• Are there “best practices” for addressing non-violent campus demonstrations?

3. UC and CSU Systemwide Policies and Procedures

• What systemwide and/or statewide programs/policies/tools are in place to address campus demonstrations?

• Are there systemwide “best practices” for addressing non-violent campus demonstrations?

• In what instances is “use of force” authorized and who makes that determination?

• What systemwide activity is being undertaken in response to recent campus incidents?

4. Campus Policies and Procedures

• What campus-based programs/policies/tools are in place to address campus demonstrations?

• Are there policies/standards/training in place for campus police to prevent non-violent demonstrations from becoming violent?

• In what instances is “use of force” authorized and who makes that determination?

• What steps are being taken locally to respond to recent incidents on the UC Davis campus?

5. Student/Campus Organized Demonstration

• What policies/procedures are followed by student organizations when there is a decision to demonstrate?

• How is the protection of students assured?

• What are the controls for protesters who do not abide by your policies?


UC Berkeley police thrust batons into protesters

UC Berkeley police yank hair of protesters

UC Davis protesters pepper-sprayed

Protesters pepper-sprayed at CSU Board of Trustees Meeting

Students, Chancellors Weigh In on Campus Police Policies at Legislative Hearing 14 December,2011KQED News Staff and Wires

  • Anonymous

    Like Coaches, University of California campus Chancellors Who Do Not Measure Up Must Go. UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau’s campus police
    use brutal baton jabs on students protesting increases in tuition. UC Berkeley
    Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) is in dereliction of his duties.

    Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau’s campus police report to the chancellor and the
    campus police take direction from the chancellor. University of California
    (UC) campus chancellors vet their campus police protocols.  Birgeneau allowed pepper spray and use of
    batons to be included in his campus police protocols.

    Birgeneau needs to quit or be fired for permitting the brutal outrages on
    students protesting tuition increases.
    Opinions? Email the UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu

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