UC Davis Pays Over $175,000 to Hide Pepper Spray Incident from Internet

UC Davis Pays Over $175,000 to Hide Pepper Spray Incident from Internet

UC Davis administration spent at least $175,000 in an attempt to cover up the 2011 incident in which university police pepper sprayed students participating in the Occupy Movement. Campus officials hired consultants to optimize Google’s search engine to suppress results that contain negative information regarding the protest.

The documents describing the actions and expenditures were released to the Sacramento Bee as the result of a public records request on April 13. According to the agreement made with Nevins and Associates, UC Davis signed a contract with the company to remove negative search results associated with the university and its chancellor. Specifically, Nevins offered to carry out the “eradication of references to the pepper spray incident in search results on Google for the university and the Chancellor.”

“Nevins & Associates is prepared to create and execute an online branding campaign designed to clean up the negative attention the University of California, Davis, and Chancellor Katehi have received related to the events that transpired in November 2011,” Nevin’s proposal to the university stated. “Online evidence and the venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the Chancellor are being filtered through the 24-hour news cycle, but it is at a tepid pace.”

After the contract with Nevins and Associates ended, the university hired other consulting companies to continue the work.

UC Davis’ Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter explained in a press release on April 15 that the university hired the consultants to increase the number of positive search results associated with UC Davis as opposed to removing the negative ones.

“The campus hired outside consultants, using no public or student funds, to optimize search engine results in order to highlight the achievements of our students, faculty and staff,” Hexter clarified. “Even if such a thing as eliminating stories and images from the Internet were possible, “pepper spray” will always be part of UC Davis’ history.”

The message continues, stating that the university had no intention of eliminating results mentioning the 2011 protest and acknowledges the importance of free speech on campus.

This incident coincides with the end of a 5-week long sit-in by UC Davis students calling for chancellor Katehi’s resignation. The sit-in began as a response to the revelation that Katehi had a paid position on the executive board of DeVry Education, where she earned $70,000 annually, in addition to income from stocks she held with the company.

Although the sit-in lasted for five weeks, which extended through the campus’ week-long spring break, the university did not remove protesters in an effort to demonstrate the value of free speech on campus.

“Our sensitivity to and acknowledgement of the importance of free speech and protest is evidenced by the approach the campus took to the sit-in on the fifth floor at Mrak,” Hexter said in his message on Friday.

According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, students ended the sit-in because of the physical and emotional toll that it caused, but they intend to continue to advocate for chancellor Katehi’s resignation with other protests.

View Comments (1)
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (1)

All The UCSD Guardian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • E

    emilyApr 19, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Join the movement to oust corrupt chancellor linda katehi and democratize the UC!
    https://www.facebook.com/FireKatehi/

    Reply