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More Fine Print on the Pepper Payout

Monday April 18th, 2016   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 5:49am PDT   •  

PepperSpray_MLAs we recently noted, a report from the state auditor outlines how the University of California made substantial efforts to recruit nonresident students who pay significantly more tuition than California residents. In recent years, the University of California has hiked tuition for residents as well and in 2011 that touched off student protests at UC Davis. Campus cops pepper-sprayed the students and that led to a settlement of $1 million. The sprayed students each received $30,000 but a San Francisco law firm got $320,000 for a review of how the UC should respond to demonstrations. UC bureaucrats were also paid extra for their work on that review. A New York-based consulting firm bagged $445,879 for an independent probe that reported to a panel headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, an appointee of Jerry Brown. Now it emerges that the costs were even more extensive.

After the pepper-spray incident, as Sam Stanton and Diana Lambert report in the Sacramento Bee, “UC Davis contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative online postings.” The payouts were intended “to improve the reputations of both the university and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.” The reporters also found that, since Katehi took office in 2009, the budget of the UC Davis “strategic communications office” has increased from $2.93 million to $5.47 million. As students and taxpayers might note, UC’s willingness to spend in this manner is not matched by cuts in bureaucracy. Indeed, some campuses have been bulking up.

In 2011, the same year as the pepper-spray incident, UC San Diego created a vice-chancellor for equity, diversion and inclusion. This “diversity sinecure,” Heather MacDonald wrote, was “wildly redundant” in light of an already massive diversity apparatus. The new post came at a time when the campus was losing star scientists to other universities, eliminating degree programs to save money, and hiking tuition.

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April 2016