Public Comment

Letter to Chancellor Regarding Violence Against Students

By Nathan Danielsen, Class of 2007, US Peace Corps in Senegal from 2007 to 2010
Friday November 18, 2011 - 07:27:00 PM

Dear Chancellor, 

You have spoken several times about what makes Cal special. Two of which is Cal's Peace Corps leadership and its commitment to values such as excellence, fairness, and justice. 

After I graduated in 2007, I served with the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa for over three years. I worked in agriculture and community development. Living and working with Senegalese farmers, I helped implement President Obama's Feed the Future initiative. An agribusiness I helped launch during my service is now working with over 400 women farms in 25 communities and is expanding. 

The education and preparation I received at Cal was a key determinant in my success in the Peace Corps. Today I work for a USAID-funded project that improves the quality and performance of public health institutions in the developing world. Everyday, I practice what I learned at Cal and use my experiences from the Peace Corps to guide my approach to working with counterparts who are citizens of developing nations. 

I was disgusted to see the video of the UCPD beating students on Wednesday. Your letter to the campus blaming the victims and justifying this crime of violence casts a poor light on Berkeley's principles and values. It shows an amazing lack of wisdom and common decency for you to accuse the Cal students of not engaging in non-violent protest. I am terribly offended by your commentary and the actions of UCPD. They cast a dark light on Berkeley's legacy and standing in the world. 

I am active in the Cal Alumni Association of Washington, DC. Every Cal alumni member I have talked to is concerned by this. It reflects poorly on UC Berkeley as an institution but also on those who have attended and studied there. 

The police actions and your lack of leadership and responsibility are inimical to the values I learned at Cal. 

With full sincerity, and in the great tradition of Cal, I call on you and the UCB police chief to resign immediately.