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posted by cmn32480 on Friday April 15 2016, @10:18AM   Printer-friendly
from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.

The University of California in Davis has spent $175,000 to try to improve its online image:

The University of California in Davis has spent $175,000 on search engine optimization (SEO) and online reputation management – to hide an embarrassing incident in which students were pepper-sprayed on campus. The massive bill has come to light this week after the Sacramento Bee filed information requests on the university's expenditure after it noticed that its "strategic communications budget" has nearly doubled from $2.93 million in 2009 to $5.47 million in 2015.

The newspaper found that the university had taken out several contracts aimed at "cleaning up the negative attention" that the university received when students were pepper-sprayed in November 2011 during a protest over large tuition fee hikes and in support of the broader Occupy movement of that time. The incident received worldwide attention when video was published of UC Davis police officer Lt. John Pike nonchalantly spraying a group of students with the chemical spray while they sat on the ground holding a peaceful rally.

[...] In an effort to limit the university's connection with the pepper-spraying, UC Davis hired Maryland-based Nevins & Associates for $15,000 a month for six months to "create and execute an online branding campaign" not just for the University of Davis, but also its chancellor Linda Katehi, who was widely criticized for her handling of the protests and faced calls for her resignation.

Here's the website of The University of California in Davis. Did I mention the University of California in Davis?


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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @10:52AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @10:52AM (#332163)

    Why would a university have its own police.

    The entire system is fucked beyond belief.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @11:06AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @11:06AM (#332166)

    Why does a township have its own police? Why do the military have their own police? Why does any public institution have their own police? It is completely incomprehensible to me as well, why a public institution with a population bigger than most small towns, complete with issues entirely unique to its circumstances regarding public safety, would have its own police force.

    The world is a huge tantalizing mystery to me as well.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday April 15 2016, @11:39AM

      by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday April 15 2016, @11:39AM (#332173) Journal

      Well, it seems to be a uniquely American thing. All the universities I've studied at or visited around Europe seem to get along just fine without their own police forces. A few of them might have "campus security" but I think that's the exception rather than the norm. I think the Americans just like having lots and lots of different police & security forces.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @12:26PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @12:26PM (#332190)

        Clearly you don't understand the purpose of (private) campus police forces. They exist to suppress crime reporting and statistics that would be damaging to the school. If you let the regular police investigate all the crime that occurs on campus - especially the rapes - then the school would have some 'splainin to do. With your own police force you can intimidate victims to prevent them from "causing trouble" - especially for top school athletes.

        Private police forces are for protection - the protection of the school's reputation and government subsidies.

        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Friday April 15 2016, @01:51PM

          by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday April 15 2016, @01:51PM (#332213) Journal

          I don't know about the top athlete part, because my alma mater's football team could have been lapped by a reasonably strong junior high school team, but the Campus Police definitely did suppress crime reports of rapes all the time. The university was an island surrounded by some of the highest crime areas on Chicago's south side, so of course there were constant thefts, assaults, and other crimes happening all the time, but thanks to the blanket of silence imposed by the administration and campus cops, the outside world thought it was a safe place to study.

          --
          Washington DC delenda est.
          • (Score: 3, Funny) by bob_super on Friday April 15 2016, @04:52PM

            by bob_super (1357) on Friday April 15 2016, @04:52PM (#332289)

            Did IIT even have a football team?

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bradley13 on Friday April 15 2016, @12:36PM

        by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 15 2016, @12:36PM (#332196) Homepage Journal

        You're right. I teach at a university in Switzerland with 10k+ students. We have no security department at all.

        On the other hand, we (and many European universities) have no "campus" in the American sense. Our buildings are generally integrated into the town or city around them.

        We also have a lot less of the "victim" mentality. Our students are here to study, not to protest microaggressions. While many individual students are politically aware, they haven't created this weird bubble that seems (from afar, anyway) to exist in American universities. If a student is active in politics, they are active in community politics, not in some movement within the university. We are part of the community, not isolated from it.

        --
        Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
        • (Score: 2) by rondon on Friday April 15 2016, @01:56PM

          by rondon (5167) on Friday April 15 2016, @01:56PM (#332214)

          American Universities (not all, but many I am familiar with) actively isolate themselves from the towns and cities around them. Fences, key-card locked doors to the library, and other methods serve to make the students insulated from the townsfolk around them.

          My freshman year of college, the only reason I left campus was to visit family and find parties. When I was on campus, I hardly ever saw someone who didn't work for attend classes at the university I went to.

          I think it may have something to do with separating the college kids from the poors so they feel safe, but I don't really know to be honest.

          • (Score: 2) by M. Baranczak on Friday April 15 2016, @03:50PM

            by M. Baranczak (1673) on Friday April 15 2016, @03:50PM (#332255)
            When I went to college, the library was open to the public, but otherwise, it was a lot like you describe. I don't even think there was any rational thought that went into this, it was more like a pathological need to control. They wanted the school to have oversight over all aspects of the students' lives - isolating the school from the community was just a side effect. And it didn't help that most of the students were stuck-up rich assholes, who didn't want anything to do with the community beyond ordering pizza and wings.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @06:07PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @06:07PM (#332334)

              The university I went to the campus police were little more than security guards who handed out parking tickets.

              If you wanted something properly taken care of you did not call them. You called the local police.

              The university told us to call the campus police first. But the students running the orientation said this 'here is what I am supposed to tell you but you should do this instead'.

              You dont *have* to call them. In most jurisdictions the local police have the ultimate authority anyway.

      • (Score: 2) by Capt. Obvious on Friday April 15 2016, @06:47PM

        by Capt. Obvious (6089) on Friday April 15 2016, @06:47PM (#332361)

        Because the drinking age is 21, you need a police force that doesn't apply that particular rule. Or if they do, it turns into a problem with the school, not the legal system.

    • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Friday April 15 2016, @11:40AM

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 15 2016, @11:40AM (#332174) Journal

      Why do the police have police?
      http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/ontario-police-watchdog/ [huffingtonpost.ca]

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Friday April 15 2016, @11:22AM

    by Nerdfest (80) on Friday April 15 2016, @11:22AM (#332169)

    To protect their "safe spaces". Duh.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by fritsd on Friday April 15 2016, @12:13PM

    by fritsd (4586) on Friday April 15 2016, @12:13PM (#332186) Journal

    Why would a university have its own police.

    The entire system is fucked beyond belief.

    Ah, I know this one.

    It's so that if your winter coat gets stolen in the Biochemistry building, you can file a formal complaint after you walked through the freezing rain to the two-staffed university police shed and convinced them to reluctantly do the paperwork.

    Also, it's their function to arrest any students that used their night pass to explore the kilometers of corridors connecting the different labs to the nuclear bomb shelter underground(*). So I've heard. He couldn't convince the security guards that he had entered the Psychology building from a different lab a kilometer away, because they didn't believe that tunnel under the main road existed.

    (*) a previous director used it as his private wine cellar, so the top brass was NOT impressed with students lurking around the dungeons.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @01:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @01:47PM (#332212)

    So all the public drunkness and pot smoking and brawling and window breaking and illegal entry can be handled by a force that's trained to handle such matters with appropriate severity, and to keep their offenders out of the newspapers and out of jail. Because the parents of the kids are paying everyone's salaries, and rich folk around the world don't want to deal with petty embarrassment if it can be readily avoided.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by evil_spork on Friday April 15 2016, @02:13PM

    by evil_spork (6200) on Friday April 15 2016, @02:13PM (#332223)

    You realize there's a fair amount of violent crime that takes place on university campuses, right? Sexual assault is pretty common, unfortunately. There's also the potential for violence when you have a bunch of drunk undergrads who haven't learned to handle their alcohol. Plus, the university has a lot of valuable assets that they don't want to be stolen. University police actually serve a legitimate purpose, especially for a major university that might have over 30,000 students, a good portion of whom live on campus. They're almost certainly able to respond faster and perhaps more effectively to incidents on campus than municipal police. I've actually thought, in my experience at two major universities, that there weren't enough police at either. I've had many encounters with university police, including being the only person in a building because I'm working late and having a false alarm going off saying the building had been broken into. The police could have made things difficult for me, but instead the just asked to see my university ID, verified a couple of things over the radio, let me go within five minutes, and spent their time fixing the alarm. They were smart enough to figure out that I'd done nothing wrong and the alarm was the real problem. In my experience at universities, parking enforcement is far more evil than law enforcement.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @02:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @02:27PM (#332230)

      You realize there's a fair amount of violent crime that takes place on university campuses, right?

      And again, we go deeper... *Why* is that? What in the US system causes this that does not cause this in normal places in the world? Why is there so much violence in the US?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @05:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @05:19PM (#332298)

        No, you need to ask yourself why sexual assault is only a crime in the US. Why is considered ok to discriminate, demean, and rape women other places? That's why you don't have sexual assault in other "normal places in the world", it is because there IS no defined sexual assault because you can't have it; women are not to be respected where you come from.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @05:39PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @05:39PM (#332312)

          alternatively, they are not respected less than men, so a law that favors them isn't necessary

          not really sure of what the origin of the problem is, really, i can't speak for people outside of the united states

          but i will tell you we have some cultural/social issues in the united states that probably don't translate well to places outside, and we spend a lot of resources treating the symptoms of these issues, instead of trying to address the issues directly

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @05:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @05:21PM (#332301)

      I attended a state college; the campus police were actually considered a local branch of the state police. They could be granted authority to operate in other jurisdictions as necessary (I am unsure of the specifics of how that works). Note this also meant they received, at minimum, the same level of training and if memory serves, were required to hold at least a bachelor's degree (which may have been a higher minimum training than the actual state police).

      This was back just after 9/11 and, as it happened, the chief of the campus police was one of the few police people in the region to have formal anti-terrorism training, so the campus police would often be asked to provide training or operational support for local or state police in the region.

      The campus police were also justified because the college was some distance from the nearest town. It was somewhat isolated in mountains (only somewhat; road improvements meant town was only 10 minutes away by the time i left the college). The state police were permitted to operate with some degree of autonomy outside the college bounds because there were some homes further up the mountain and they could get there sooner in the event of an emergency.

      I know this because I used to chat up the police chief from time to time when I'd see him in the mess. He was a friendly guy. I am sorry I did not have the background to fully understand everything he'd talk about.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @03:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15 2016, @03:50PM (#332254)

    It is a historical artifact. For a long time, especially in the more western parts of the country, Universities were the town. In fact, for one of the colleges I went to, the city actually contracts their police force from the university.