Sunday, November 20, 2011

UC Davis Chancellor Katehi Does the Perp Walk

More powerful video footage from the protests at UC Davis, where a policeman pepper-sprayed peacefully demonstrating students two days ago: here, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi does the perp walk down a pathway lined by the student protesters as they stand in silence.  

If Katehi does resign in the wake of her abysmally wrong decision to sic armed police on non-violent student demonstrators exercising their rights of free speech and assembly, don't look for her to have a tarnished or impeded career.  In my experience with higher education, I've seen one intellectually and morally bankrupt university president after another make atrocious decisions, destroy the academic life of his or her university, ride roughshod over faculty rights, radically increase the pay gap between himself/herself and everyone else in the university, and then walk away with rewards and perks aplenty.

The usual course of action in these cases is for the morally and intellectually bankrupt boards and their cronies, who put these empty sounding furies into their positions as university heads, to reward said empty sounding furies, once they've done their dirty work, with cushy positions at think tanks.  Or, in the case of universities sponsored by churches, to provide a golden parachute within the governing structures of the church, where they can continue their destruction of good institutions and their undermining of ethical values within the church itself.

I suspect the person who may end up definitively punished for what took place at UC Davis on Friday is the policeman who pepper-sprayed the students, Lt. John Pike.  And he should be punished.  A man capable of the action he did on Friday would not be allowed access to any weapon ever again in a culture with any sense at all.

But Katehi deserves blame every bit as much as does Pike.  She made a horribly bad decision to bring the police onto her campus when there was not the slightest reason to take such a step.  And the consequences should be laid at her feet as university chancellor, every bit as much as at the feet of the bullying police who came to campus Friday.

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