In an effort to maintain a squeaky clean image for prospective students, UC Davis spent over $175,000 on consultants to help remove evidence of their 2011 protests from the internet.
Footage of the protests sparked national outrage when they went viral, depicting campus police officers pepper-spraying a row of students who peacefully sat down.
Yeah, not a good look.
The consultants were also specifically tasked with improving the online persona of Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi, which makes this whole thing seem like people at the top using taxpayer dollars to protect their careers. California Assemblyman Kevin McCarty is onto their little games.
From The Sacramento Bee:
Reaction to word of the online reputation expenditures sparked new criticism by a lawmaker who is one of four to call on Katehi to step down.
“It is troubling that the administration chose to spend scarce public dollars and to nearly double its PR budget when tuition soared, course offerings were slashed and California resident students were being shut out,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, who chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance. “These findings just raise more questions about university priorities.”
So, has the massive social media budget paid off for the likes of UC Davis and Chancellor Katehi?
Damn. Doesn’t look like anybody at UC Davis is going to be shaking this incident any time soon.
This story is incredibly significant at a time like this. Protests are happening on university campuses more and more frequently, often times turning ugly. Other universities are going to look at places like Mizzou, which has suffered plummeting enrollment rates and alumni donations in wake of their highly-publicized protests, and start forking out large sums of taxpayer dollars on internet PR to prevent a similar fate.
But in an America where students are graduating from college with such tremendous amounts of debt, should educational institutions really be spending such a large amount of public dollars on making themselves look good on Google?.
[via The Sacramento Bee]