The University of California’s student association is calling for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to resign or be fired after it was revealed that the university paid to have controversial images of a university police officer spraying student protesters with pepper spray scrubbed from the Internet.
The university paid a public relations firm at least $175,000 in 2013 to help restore its reputation by removing records of the incident from Google search results, according to the Sacramento Bee — though the photo is still prominent in searches.
Kevin Sabo, the student association’s president, blasted the chancellor for how she handled the 2011 incident, which he said “shaped student protest and campus response for the last five years.”
“After the incident, Chancellor Katehi abdicated responsibility, but still felt it was necessary to initiate an impossible hunt to save her reputation,” Sabo said in a statement on Friday. “This is not a lapse of judgment, but a pattern of Katehi’s blatant disregard of her responsibility as a UC leader.”
Ralph Hexter, the university’s provost and executive vice chancellor, said the reports about the firm’s hiring “mischaracterize the facts.” “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 said in a statement. “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 University of California Student Association represents more than 240,000 students, according to its website.