Monday, November 21, 2011

This is what we want from our students! "engagement with the world, thoughtfulness in building that engagement, and action arising from that engagement." But only sometimes. And only when we say so. And only when they're repeating what we've told them.

"After decades of complaining about student apathy, now a generation steps forward to make its voice heard and is promptly pepper-sprayed." So well said. We can't tell our students to think critically and them punish them for turning that critical eye on us. That's the whole point!

From Edge of the American West:

Cathy Davidson makes excellent points about the UC Davis situation and how higher education should respond in general:

I keep hearing the arguments that universities have to call in the police to protect the students, that the Occupy encampments are unsanitary, unsafe, and insecure. That’s almost comical when you teach at Duke where “tenting” is one of our most venerable student traditions. A tent-city called K-Ville has been thriving since 1986. Krzyzewskiville ( is an encampment of students staying in tents, in winter, for weeks at time in order not to lose priority getting into Duke basketball games. A few years ago, my students and I even looked at the community rules and community standards for K-Ville in order to understand self-organizing community groups, constitutions, and regulation. You can read the university’s own evolving rules for this extraordinary phenomenon here: If K-Ville can thrive safely, securely, and with proper sanitation even in the heat of winning and losing basketball championships, for a quarter of a century, so can a well-organized group of students fighting for their education, for better funding for their university, and for their future.

I would point out, by way of extending Davidson’s points, that the political activism of the Occupy movement is exactly what faculty want of their students: engagement with the world, thoughtfulness in building that engagement, and action arising from that engagement. After decades of complaining about student apathy, now a generation steps forward to make its voice heard and is promptly pepper-sprayed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm late on this but, still, speechless.

From sfist:

UC Davis Follow-Up: Chancellor's Eerily Silent Walk of Shame, Faculty Member's Open Letter
As the Second Alarm reports [via BoingBoing], a large crowd of student protesters and their supporters interrupted a press conference on Saturday afternoon with UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and campus police, demanding a response regarding Friday's brutal pepper spraying incident, along with her resignation. Initially, Katehi refused to leave the building, allegedly intending to give the press the impression that the crowd was trapping her inside.

The crowd then dispersed and formed a large gap in order to allow the Chancellor to exit, chanting “we are peaceful” and “just walk home,” and remained there for three hours. The above video documents the agonizing three-block walk that the Chancellor took to her car, which is so silent you can hear every one of her footsteps resonating on the pavement.
A few reporters can be heard asking Katehi questions in the footage, and at one point, she tells them she will address the students on Monday.

Additionally, Nathan Brown, an assistant English professor at UC Davis issued a scathing open letter to Chancellor Katehi asking on behalf of The Davis Faculty Association that she step down.

Brown details the pepper spraying incident:

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

He then uses Katehi's own words against her:

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

Katehi told CNN that she has set up a task force made up of faculty, students and staff, which will review the events and will "provide a report within 90 days." She is refusing to step down.

Update: Commenter Speedbird_9 brings it to SFist's attention that Katehi was allegedly involved in a scandal at the University of Illinois, in which "the school admitted hundreds of students with weak academic records following the efforts of politicians and other heavily influential people to lobby on their behalf," as reported by The People's Vanguard of Davis back in 2009.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My IMDB profile . . .

has a new entry.  Location scout.  Googling your name sometimes returns fun results!  I had forgotten about my movie career!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

. . . ; the centre cannot hold; . . .

From Edge of the American West, up and running again.  The phrase "the center cannot hold" always punches me in the gut, leaves me gaping and gasping, my heart too full and too achingly empty.  But it is apt here.  I feel like posting the whole of the Yeats would be alarmist, would be overly emotional, would be unfair and inflammatory, but, nonetheless, the center cannot hold.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened. But it certainly looks like UC police began beating unarmed and peaceful students in Berkeley this afternoon.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, in the unfortunately named Happy Valley, students apparently are rioting to protest the ouster of Joe Paterno.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

An evening in Fall

The New Spain Cocktail
Bourbon + Amontillado Sherry + Dash of Orange Bitters, on ice

by Lucy Maud Montgomery 

Now at our casement the wind is shrilling,
Poignant and keen
And all the great boughs of the pines between
It is harping a lone and hungering strain
To the eldritch weeping of the rain;
And then to the wild, wet valley flying
It is seeking, sighing,
Something lost in the summer olden.
When night was silver and day was golden;
But out on the shore the waves are moaning
With ancient and never fulfilled desire,
And the spirits of all the empty spaces,
Of all the dark and haunted places,
With the rain and the wind on their death-white faces,
Come to the lure of our leaping fire.

But we bar them out with this rose-red splendor
From our blithe domain,
And drown the whimper of wind and rain
With undaunted laughter, echoing long,
Cheery old tale and gay old song;
Ours is the joyance of ripe fruition,
Attained ambition.
Ours is the treasure of tested loving,
Friendship that needs no further proving;

No more of springtime hopes, sweet and uncertain,
Here we have largess of summer in fee
Pile high the logs till the flame be leaping,
At bay the chill of the autumn keeping,
While pilgrim-wise, we may go a-reaping
In the fairest meadow of memory!