Many have wondered when Linda Katehi would resign after news broke that university funds had been used to remove references to the infamous US Davis pepper spray incident.
The latest action, from University of California President Janet Napolitano, is putting Linda on administrative leave, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to bow out quite yet, reported the Los Angeles Times. In light of the request for Katehi’s resignation, hundreds of faculty members have signed a letter rejecting assertions that she should step down.
Apart from censoring pepper spray results, Linda has also been met with student protests over accepting outside positions at DeVry University and a textbook company. Katehi has gone through several on-campus demonstrations related to these two charges.
Linda may be forced to resign from US Davis after documents were released earlier this month, which show the school paying $175,000 of university funds to scrub Google results of references to the 2011 pepper-spray incident. Katehi has also faced calls to step down University of California student associations, a group representing 17 universities across California. The organization announced their position via Twitter a few weeks ago.
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 appears 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, with calls for her resignation dating back to that incident.
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 that have many saying she should resign, 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.”
While Linda was attempting to improve her image, the revelations appear to have had the opposite effect. Kevin McCarty, of California’s Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, also expressed his anger over the newfound evidence that may lead to her resignation.
“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.”
Among the methods meant to bring Linda and UC Davis back to their former shine was “to expedite the eradication of references to the pepper-spray incident in search results.” After national attention focused in on the university as well as Katehi, the California higher learning institution became symbolic of police crackdown on the Occupy movement protests across the nation. Linda immediately tried to distance herself amidst calls for her resignation, reported San Francisco Chronicle.
“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 Justin Sullivan/AP Images]