Chancellor Drake listens as the spouse of an outsourced worker asks in Spanish to be treated with dignity, captivating the audience. Photo © Daniel C. Tsang 2010
UPDATED with audio link: To listen to the show, click here: .
Irvine -- UCI Chancellor Michael Drake, for the first time since a critical UCI Faculty Senate blasted him for (initially) firing founding Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky in 2007, faced Wednesday 13 January 2010 another hostile audience at a public forum organized by student protesters who gave what OC Register's Gary Robbins called a "verbal drubbing" -- with all but one student criticizing his leadership of the campus. It was a P.R. disaster for Drake.
Unlike previous "town hall" meetings where Drake managed to be in control, students criticized him for deferring to aides and not answering the questions "man to man". Asked pointedly if he would still continue to stay at UCI should his pay be further cut, he never answered the question, nor did he made a commitment to remaining at UCI.
While Drake and UCI police chief Paul Henisey declined to comment on the police abuse at UCLA protests (saying they were not there to see what happened) -- after the public forum, Subversity managed to ask the police chief if he would drop charges against sociology graduate student John Bruning, who had been arrested at a protest late last fall. Chief Henisey said it was up to the Orange County District Attorney.
At the forum, students laughed when Drake declared that UCI's commitment to free speech was nationally known. The chief then denied his cops were ripping down protesters' posters on campus. Both Drake and Henisey said they knew nothing about that. See photos of a UCI police officer ripping down posters on the Occupy UCI! blog.
Subversity has also learned that in another sign of intimidation by campus police, protesters who have been chalking on campus recently -- writing statements such as "UCI is Racist" on walls and the ground -- have been confronted by campus police who take down their name and threaten to charge them with "defacing" university property should the chalk not be able to be removed. This week's rains are likely, however, to wipe away the chalk.
The only time Drake seemed moved and did not act like a CEO of a corporation was after the wife of an outsourced worker who has worked at UCI for 20 years pleaded with him to provide benefits to the workers. Drake responded that he was committed to "quality experience" for everyone at UCI and said he had been working to help the disadvantaged and dispossessed in his career.
A day after the forum, dozens of outsourced workers demonstrated on campus and a smaller group of workers and student supporters gave Ramona Agrela, an associate to Drake, posters of workers who had been laid off.
Subversity, a KUCI public affairs program, airs today (18 January 2010) at 9-10 a.m. audio from the public forum as a public service. The program airs on KUCI, 88.9 FM in Orange County, California, and is simulcast via kuci.org.