UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi may be forced to resign after documents were released earlier this week which show the school paying $175,000 of university funds to scrub Google results of references to the 2011 pepper-spray incident.
Linda is now facing a call to step down from the University of California student associations, a group representing 17 universities across California. The organization announced their position via Twitter on Saturday.
It’s official: UCSA calls on Davis Chancellor Katehi to resign or be terminated given pattern of missteps.
— UCSA (@_UCSA) April 16, 2016
The university appear to have paid two marketing companies to essentially censor Google search results in order to protect its own public image, as well as Linda’s. After video of UC Davis students being pepper sprayed went viral, Katehi was also heavily criticized by the student body.
Lindas’s anti-smear campaign was revealed to the public under the California Public Records Act. Local paper the Sacramento Bee, based 40 minutes from UC Davis, posted the full set of documents implicating Katehi to its website.
The paper’s research revealed that in January, 2013, Linda and the university entered into a six-month contract with Nevins & Associates, a Maryland media relations company. The California university shelled out $15,000 a month for its services.
A year and a half later, Katehi appears to have still found herself confronting negative Google results about the pepper-spray incident. Linda approved the payment of an additional $82,500 to marketing agency IDMLOCO to “design and execute a comprehensive search engine results management strategy.”
Between those two revealed contracts, the newspaper estimated that a total of $175,000 was paid out for UC Davis and Katehi’s damage control. Doug Elmets, a Sacramento public affairs consultant, told the Bee that this was not necessarily standard procedure for a university.
“I would say that it is common for an individual who might be applying for a job or an individual who has been wrongly maligned to go to a company like Reputation.com, but for a public university that is funded through taxpayer funds, who has repeatedly stepped into a vast hole, it is surprising that they thought this could be done without the light of day shining on the act. It is one more example of how out of touch the leadership at UC Davis is when it comes to their public perspective.”
“It is troubling that the administration chose to spend scarce public dollars and to nearly double its PR budget when tuition soared, course offerings were slashed and California resident students were being shut out. These findings just raise more questions about university priorities.”
“I want to unequivocally apologize to the entire community for the appalling use of pepper spray. I will do everything in my power to make sure nothing like that ever happens again. My instructions were for no arrests and no police force. I explicitly directed the chief of police that violence should be avoided at all costs… Our university has to be better. We need to work together. I know that you may not believe anything I say right now, but it is my responsibility to earn your trust.”
Do you think UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi’s actions against Google search results about the pepper-spray incident were justified?
[Photo by Luis Ascui/Getty Images]