News coverage of UC Davis Students' Revelation of Spying by University Officials
I'll have more on this later
- Students and representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) held a press conference Tuesday to shed light on the Student Activism Team (SAT) - administrators' efforts to monitor campus action.
Eric Lee, junior political science major, Sarah Augusto, graduate student in sociology and two members from Sacramento County's and Yolo County's ACLUs said the team's covert formation was a breach of trust and an attempt to privatize the university.
"We students find this untenable and hypocritical," Lee said.
Augusto said she found the list of administrators and staff involved in SAT especially disconcerting. SAT members include staff from Student Housing, Financial Aid and resource centers, such as the Cross-Cultural Center and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center.
"It suggests that the administration is targeting minorities and using staff that students are close with … why use staff members [who work for Student Housing and Financial Aid] with direct power over students, with access to so much information?" Augusto said.
Another concerning issue is the secrecy, Augusto said. Students didn't learn about SAT until a former student, Brian Sparks, filed a California Public Records Act request.
"If they wanted to be transparent as they say they do, they'd put student activists on the team, they'd open a dialogue with students and they would have said their intentions in the very beginning," Augusto said.
- Students on Tuesday decried what they said was an effort by UC Davis to spy on protesters.
University officials admit that a campus cop dressed in plain clothes at a March 2 protest lied when students questioned her about her identity.
That incident, coupled with the existence of a new “Student Activism Response Team” — which students say they learned about only after a public records request — has led some to feel the administration’s actions are at odds with its stated support of students protesting tuition hikes and state budget cuts.
“We students find this untenable, hypocritical and a sign of disrespect for students and their families who find it increasingly difficult to pay for and graduate from college,” said Eric Lee, a third-year political science major, who joined in a news conference with the Sacramento and Yolo County chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU was represented at this event by Sacramento Chair, Debra Regier, who argued that this action represents a "violation of the rights of students."
Dan Berman, representing Yolo County's ACLU argued, "UC Davis Administration has, in effect, a chilling effect on rights of students by sending in spies."
He urged UC to "Get off the backs of our students!" He added, "Prior restraint causes a chilling effect on freedom of speech." And he said that "Essentially it is privatizing education," where students are trying to "learn to be a citizen" at these schools.
Under the California Public Records Act, these students have obtained 280 pages of various documents and emails regarding the UC administration’s response to student activism. The Vanguard has a copy of these and will be analyzing them in the coming days.
The information has shocked students, staff and faculty at UC Davis as they begin to examine it. As stated, the documents reveal that high-ranking administrators, staff members who work closely with students and leaders of the campus police department formed a network called the “Activism Response Team” to keep close tabs on student activists and their plans.
This includes monitoring the Facebook activity of student organizers, keeping track of protest materials such as pamphlets and using various strategies to obtain information about “anticipated student actions.”
- UC Davis students and members of Yolo County and Sacramento ACLU chapters are calling for the university to disband a group of student volunteers who monitor protests and report them to school management.
In a press conference attended by about 30 people held on the UCD campus, south of the Memorial Union, students accused the university of spying on them and infringing on student speech.
Working on behalf of the administration, volunteers have reportedly attended protest meetings, befriended protest groups on Facebook and tried to influence protests themselves.
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