Many of us here at Davis are frustrated by the inaccuracies in the media about the motivation behind the protests at Davis. Yesterday, the Public Relations Committee of the UWP talked about ways in which this might be addressed.
This morning, after hearing even my local NPR do an oversimplification, I drafted this letter. A few members of the PR Committee have also attached their names, & I’ve just sent it out.
National and international press coverage of the incidents at UC Davis has included a fundamental error; and we have noticed this mistake replicated on our local NPR station, CapRadio.
Just this morning, CapRadio reported that the pepper-spraying incidents occurred after the chancellor told the police to dismantle the “Occupy Wall Street” tents. Although many of the protestors on campus support the Occupy Wall Street aims, and although some Occupy Wall Street supporters have joined the protest at UC Davis, reporting that these rallies and strikes are about the Wall Street movement is inaccurate. A brief outline of the actual events follows.
The initial movement, which has been called “Occupy UC” and “Reclaim UC,” is a protest against the proposed 81% tuition hike. Berkeley held protests as a part of this movement, and violence was used against those protestors.
UC Davis, with the authorization of the Davis Faculty Association, protested both the tuition hike and the brutality used against the Berkeley students. As part of that protest, UC Davis students erected tents on the quad. Their occupation of the space can be interpreted as a form of visual rhetoric that linked their protests to the larger Occupy Movement, but the larger views of the protests are still anti-tuition hike and anti-violence. That our students were attacked by police while protesting violence against Berkeley protestors is an irony ignored by the “Occupy Wall Street” label being applied to the protests. The strike called for November 28th is being lauded (and in some way claimed) by the larger “Occupy” movement, but we ask that reporters accurately state what the students are striking for.
Today, UCLA called for protests to support UC Davis’ anti-violence position and to decry the rise in tuition. We hope that coverage of the wave of protests sweeping the state will voice the actual concerns of the majority of the protestors, rather than oversimplifying and/or misrepresenting what the students’ concerns are. We are especially hopeful that our local station will be the source of the most nuanced and accurate news.
For more information about the movement, please talk to the leaders on the quad. Check out http://reclaimuc.blogspot.com/; and of course, please don’t hesitate to contact us.