Twenty one current and former University of California, Davis students have been awarded almost $1 million in a settlement with the University of California
regents following a 2011 pepper spray incident. Viral outrage over the incident was sparked when videos and images of a U.C.-Davis officer spraying defenseless students were posted to the internet. The students, seen seated in a group, were participating in an Occupy protest to display their displeasure in increasing tuition prices and decreasing services. Each student will individually receive $30,000 as well as a handwritten apology from Linda Katehi, the chancellor at U.C. Davis. In addition to the settlement $630,000 was set aside for the 21 plaintiffs, another $250,000 will be issued to pay for legal fees and costs to the lawyers involved in the suit. Moreover, the suit has since been recognized as a class action and will offer portions of an additional $100,000 that has been set aside for any other students who come forward with claims of being sprayed.
With regards to the settlement, Fatima Sbeih a student at U.C. Davis stated, “It’s a lesson for other UCs and universities across the nation to really think critically and not make rash decisions when dealing with protesters because they will be held accountable for it.”
As a recent college graduate, I can understand the backlash that surrounds this particular case. Had I been subjected to pepper spray while participating in a similar protest during my four years of school, I would have been just as quick to respond with a lawsuit. God only knows how my parents would have reacted. They definitely would have been upset to see their son maced in face (that rhymes). Luckily for me, however, Marist has a 60% female enrollment due to its renowned fashion program, so I had little to complain about during my time there.