“Everyone has seen the infamous pepper spray video at UC Davis, in response to which [UC President Yudof] appointed a supposedly independent commission headed by a celebrity former police chief, Bill Bratton, whose company was already under contract with UC to provide security issues, while protecting Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi from the consequences of her policies.
“In fact, it now seems clear why her position was protected; her attacks on students are precisely what the senior UC administration wants to see. And so, with the smell of pepper spray still in the air, UC students were arrested and are now facing up to 11 years in jail at the urging of the same UC Davis administration that had them pepper-sprayed for—run for the hills—a sit in of the campus branch of US Bank to protest its role in, and profiteering from, the ongoing privatisation of public education at UC. Here it becomes clear how the more well-known prosecution of the so-called “Irvine 11″ students, who disrupted a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UC Irvine in 2010, has served as a template for even more aggressive prosecutions of dissenting speech in its wake.
“This prosecution of peaceful protest is happening, despite the fact that the UC Davis Academic Senate has taken the remarkable step of censuring Chancellor Katehi for her actions during the Occupy protests, with no noticeable impact on either her position at Davis or her policies. Of course, it hasn’t occurred to Yudof or other UC officials to protest and even fight against the fact that the more the university is privatised and tuition rises, the more banks such as US Bank rake in profits through student loans.
“The ‘office of the president’ has the time to offer detailed warnings to May Day travellers, but no time to develop a sophisticated counterattack against the very real threat of a student-loan complex that is eating away at the fabric of higher education.”
“President Yudof’s record on these matters is one of bland acceptance—or even advocacy—of de facto privatisation, whose consequences are enforced with greater repression of free and dissenting speech practices at UC. But it is even worse. The UC system under his tenure has become a laboratory for the wider national pattern of criminalising individual conduct at the same time that corporate conduct is given the widest freedoms possible to arrogate the country’s wealth away from ordinary people and to the ever more powerful ‘one per cent’. As Bernard Harcourt demonstrates in his recent Guardian op-ed, the Supreme Court increasingly supports a policy universe in which ‘liberty is sacrosanct for the market, not the citizen’.”
“Why should the internal problems of the University of California matter to anyone outside the system, or the United States? Because universities, especially public universities, are the canary in the coal mine for determining the health of of society at large. If the foundations of free and open exchange of knowledge and debate over ideas, and tolerance for dissent are repressed inside the so-called ivory towers of academia, the situation in society at large will most assuredly be worse.”
[full article (Al Jazeera)]