Archive for November, 2011

Open Letter by a graduate student to Chancellor Katehi about Virginia Tech shooting reference

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Via Solidarity!

An Open Letter Addressed to Chancellor Katehi:

I am afraid that I have been forced to write to you after watching the Town Hall forums over this last week. First of all, I would like to thank you and the members of the panels for taking the time to speak to the community.

I was a witness to the now infamous pepper-spraying incident on the Quad and have participated in numerous protests condemning such actions since then. However I have never written to you personally, trusting the words of those more eloquent than myself to express the general dissatisfaction with the actions of the police and administration.

Nonetheless I knew I had to communicate in person when I heard you invoke the Virginia Tech massacre on multiple occasions to defend a need for weaponized police forces on college campuses. When students and faculty are professing concerns and fears of the campus police, I ask you if such a reference is relevant or appropriate.

As a native Virginian, I hold a deep conviction that the events of April 16, 2007 should never become a catchphrase to conjure up fear for a broad variety of campus safety issues. Clearly, the fears I felt in the crowd on the UC Davis Quad last week were entirely different to those of a school shooting and should be respected as such.

Perhaps if I explained my personal connection to the amazing VT community, my aversion to such rhetoric would be more obvious. As a freshman at another public university in Virginia, the day of the massacre itself was marked by a deep fear for my friends on the Virginia Tech campus. Every anniversary, commemorated by current Tech students like my brother, is a somber opportunity to reflect on the sorrow that accompanies mental illness.

Not once on any of those occasions have I been comforted by the thought of more weapons on college campuses regardless of the hands that hold them. In fact, the 32 deaths of students and faculty in 2007 have prompted legislation that limited the use of guns, not broadened their application.

I realize that “Virginia Tech” is now a phrase that is used to describe the realities and challenges of administrating higher education; such notoriety has led to useful reforms such as the WarnMe system that alerts UC Davis students of safety hazards. Nevertheless, I would ask you and the UCD administration not to refer to the tragic events of another community in such an offhand manner. Just as language referencing the terrorist attacks of September 11th should not be used to support the Patriot Act, I urge all of us to avoid utilizing the massacre at Virginia Tech to explain the unfortunate events on our own campus.

Perhaps the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University could instead serve as an economic model for UC Davis; Virginia public schools facing budget cuts have managed to keep tuition within a reasonable price range, which to me, is a far higher priority than weaponizing the police.

A Graduate Student
University of California, Davis

OnlineUniversities forgot to mention OccupyUCDavis

November 30, 2011 1 comment


In an article on another blog, named, 11 college campuses with major Occupy movements.

These are: Duke, UC Berkeley, Seattle Central Community College, Boston University, Auburn, Brown, University of New Mexico, Oklahoma State, UCLA, Iowa State, and Humboldt State.

Please read and feel free to leave a comment.

Edit: A brief excerpt:

Occupy Wall Street has been going on for months now, and although reactions to the movement are mixed, there are protest locations numbering somewhere near 1,000. Within that number are several college campuses that boast major Occupy movements, whether there’s a presence on campus, or simply very active students involved in their local Occupy chapter. There’s even an Occupy Colleges movement, formed to protest college tuition hikes amid staggering student loan debt. Like Occupy Wall Street, Occupy movements on college campuses have been met with mixed reactions, some finding great support in university administration, and others fighting an uphill battle. Read on, and we’ll take a look at the beliefs, incidents, and status of 11 college Occupy movements going on today.

Short #UCDavis news: pay raise, pepper spray questions, and more

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Here you can find several questions Keith Bradnam, a project scientist in Ian Korf’s lab at the Genome Center, regarding the pepper spray incident of November 18. His main questions are:

3. What were the specific instructions to Police Chief Spicuzza regarding the removal of students and/or tents?

6. What specific instructions did Police Chief Spicuzza give to her officers?

7. What specific instructions were given to Lt. Pike – and to the second (as yet unamed) police officer who also used pepper spray?

Here you can find an article in The Atlantic questioning of the investigations into the pepper spray incident are actually independent. This is the last paragraph of the article:

After all, those students who were pepper sprayed in the face were protesting, in large part, the encroaching privatization of the university. Picking a company with Kroll’s corporate entanglements to conduct the investigation is incredibly tactless at best.

Last Monday the UC Regents board had a meeting across four campuses the day after Thanksgiving weekend after their initial meeting scheduled for November 16 was cancelled over fear of protesters. This meeting was also cut short because of protesters (news article here and here). Directly following this shortened meeting, the UC regents reconvened to discuss the pay raise for 12 of their top administrators and lawyers. Two UC Davis people were awarded lavish pay raises. Vincent Johnson, the Chief Operating Officer of the UC Davis Medical Center received a 23% pay raise (in other words he can add $103,500 to his pay check next year) and Steven Drown, a top lawyer for UC Davis received a 21.9% pay raise (in other words he can add $44,995 to his pay check next year). Keep in mind that the student protesters who interrupted the UC Regents board meeting were in part protesting the proposed 81% tuition fee hike that awaits them.

For all good measure, here you can find the SacBee’s list of State Workers salaries.

As a reminder for the graduate and professional students of UC Davis – tomorrow there is a Town Hall meeting with Chancellor Katehi and other specially for you.


Here you can find an article in The Bay Citizen looking into Bill Bratton’s advice history. Apparently, he urged Brown University to arm their campus police officers.

GSA Officially Censures Chancellor Katehi

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

At the Nov. 30th meeting of the GSA many proposals concerning the events of Nov. 18th were discussed and voted upon. Outright calling for the Chancellor’s immediate resignation was voted down by roughly 70 to 30 votes, however the general assembly did vote to officially censure Chancellor Katehi. Several other proposals were approved with the general goals of incorporating graduate students into police oversight committees, and calling on the legislature to undo or mitigate the negative effects of Prop 13 on educational funding.

More updates to follow, you can always check the GSA website for more information. Don’t forget to attend the Graduate Student Townhall meeting with Chancellor Katehi at 6 PM in 66 Roessler Hall. This is your chance as a graduate student to be heard!

BMCDB GSA Rep, Gordon Walker


Categories: Uncategorized

REMINDER: tomorrow Town Hall meeting for grad students. 6-7:30pm in Roessler 66

November 30, 2011 1 comment

In addition to last weeks Town Hall meeting which focussed on undergraduate students and tomorrow Town Hall meeting for Faculty and Staff, this Thursday the graduate and professional students will have their own Town Hall meeting with Chancellor Katehi. This is all a response by UC Davis administration to communicate with the campus community after the pepper spray event of November 18.

Location: Roessler Hall 66

When: Thursday, December 1st

Time: 18h00-19h30 (6pm to 7h30pm)

Every graduate and professional student in encouraged to come to this Town Hall meeting to ask Chancellor Katehi and other administrators about problems faced by us in a respectful and communicative environment.

Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness plan

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

President Obama has introduced a plan that would have a great impact on students with loans, but this has barely been discussed in the media, in great contrast to his health plan or job creation plan. This student loan would result in partial forgiveness of your student loan. Not a small deal, as some students rack up $100,000s in debt just to obtain a degree.

This can be read on the website.

Under the terms of this program, anyone who makes his monthly payments for twenty years after leaving college is eligible to have his/her remaining balance forgiven. At least, this applies to anyone with Federal Direct loans, Stafford loans, and Perkins loans. Those who take out their loans from private lenders such as Sallie Mae are still responsible for repaying their loans in total.

Individuals who spend ten years in public service positions become eligible to have their loans forgiven at that point rather than having to wait the full twenty years. This means that their debt is forgiven in half the time and their debt reduced significantly sooner.

It is also a part of the plan that monthly payments be capped at a level of 10 percent of the money that left over when all taxes are paid and basic necessities taken care of. This cap has been at 15 percent, which takes a lot more money out of the pockets of citizens and out of the economy.

There are also programs in place that allow teachers to work for just five years in elementary or high schools that have been designated as low income schools by the Dept. Of Education. This applies to FFEL loans and to Direct loans.

Military personnel are also able to achieve forgiveness for their student loans if they have a degree. This program works for members of all five branches of service, including the Coast Guard and Reserves.

A final option is to apply for income based repayment terms. While it is probably best to sign up for this early in the life of the loan, older loans may still qualify for this lower payment plan. Of course, the clock starts all over when one signs up for this option. That means that someone who has worked in public service for eight years and signs up for income based repayment must work another ten years in public service instead of the two he/she would have had left.

Student loans are a fact of life for the vast majority of college graduates. This is especially true of those who go beyond a bachelor’s degree and take graduate level classes. Sadly, the much higher pay they were promised if they pursued their education to its fullest has not materialized. The economic recession has made this fact even worse for most.

The Obama student loan forgiveness program is intended to help ensure that individuals do not wind up broke because they chose to continue their education. While nobody will see his/her loan just disappear overnight, payments have been lowered and the time shortened that one must pay before the remaining balance is forgiven. Public service workers and teachers are eligible for forgiveness at much faster rates due to the nature of their jobs.

The best way to get this program in the public debate, is to talk about and read about and write about it. Let your friends and family this is a plan worth supporting, independent of your political position.

Here is an article on Here is a link to the Department of Education website.

Categories: Interesting link

New insights on the Cambrian Explosion

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Boom! From by Bob Yirka:

Fossil of Marrella splendens Image: Wikipedia

For hundreds of years, researchers from many branches of science have sought to explain the veritable explosion in diversity in animal organisms that started approximately 541 million years ago here on planet Earth. Known as the Cambrian period, it was the time, according to fossil evidence, when life evolved from simple one celled organisms, to creatures that had multiple cells with varied functions. Now, new evidence by a team of biologists, paleobiologists and ecologists suggests that the sudden explosion of new life forms may not have been so sudden after all. In their paper published in Science, the teams says that it appears likely that most of the new life forms that show up in fossil finds, were well on their way to development before the Cambrian period and that many of them, by their behaviors, may have helped pave the way for others.

To better understand what was happening before and during the Cambrian period, the team took a two-pronged approach: one side studied, compiled and updated the fossil evidence, while the other focused on the molecular makeup of various organisms to uncover their gene history to create a more precise family tree. By combining the evidence from both sides, the team was able to put together a picture of what they believe went on.

From their work it appears that the basic genetic components for the organisms that seemingly sprang into existence during the Cambrian period were in place long before the fossil records show. In fact, there appeared to be evidence of a slow march of development for 200 million years before the sudden diversity became evident, which indicates that many such organisms were slowly evolving and only showed when conditions became ripe.

The team suggests that for many of those 200 million years, Earth went through some very cold periods where the entire planet was likely frozen, stagnating development. Then, there came a time of warming, partly brought about, they theorize, by the development of organisms that were capable of changing the environment by pulling carbon from seawater and releasing more oxygen when they died and also by those that burrowed into the seafloor aerating it, providing a new type of environment for new types of organisms.

Read the complete article here. Read the original manuscript via Science by Douglas H. Erwin as lead author from the National Museum of Natural History.

Categories: Interesting link