Campus, Community Quarrel over Laboratory

UC Davis – The California Aggie

Campus officials at UC Davis have agreed to consider alternative sites for a National Biocontainment Laboratory planned for the southwest corner of the campus.

The laboratory has encountered vehement public opposition in the Davis community, as it could handle research on some of the most dangerous and infectious diseases to humans and animals, such as Ebola and the recently discovered severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Community response to the lab has prompted a letter of opposition from Davis Mayor Susie Boyd to the University and a letter from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asking the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to consider alternative sites in northern California.

UCD spokesperson Pat Bailey said several communities have expressed interest in the lab, including West Sacramento and Vacaville. Bailey said the lab would still be associated with UCD even if it is moved out of town.

UCD spokesperson Andy Fell said the site proposal, which was originally submitted in February, could not be changed until May, when the National Institute of Health conducts site visits for the leading candidates.

“We still think the [campus] is the best site for the lab,” Fell said. “It has the advantage of being connected to the schools of medicine and veterinary medicine, and the other sites would disconnect it from campus.”

Some opponents to the lab say the agreement to review other sites is irrelevant considering that the NIH will already have made its decision by May and would have little incentive to start over.

Samantha McCarthy of Stop the UCD BioLab NOW, a Davis organization leading opposition to the lab, said, “It’s a way to appease the community and make them back off from voicing their concerns. They want us to think they are listening to the vote of the city council so they can pull the wool over our eyes.”

UC Releases Report With Fewer Pages, More White-out

UC Riverside – The Highlander

On March 14, the University of California released an investigative report concerning three separate claims of administrative and faculty misconduct at UC Riverside.

The report, produced by UC Davis law professor Tobias Barrington Wolff, was originally submitted in September 2002. The version released to the public has all the names whited out and is missing several pages. The University has been criticized for delaying the report’s release.

Danuta Tuszynska, a Riverside lawyer representing one of the students who made a complaint in the report, filed a request for the report under the California Public Records Act in February to prompt its release. Tuszynska said she was disappointed by the University’s decision to cut out part of the report.

“They realized they had to comply with the California Public Records Act but didn’t want to send any version of the report that was critical of the University in this matter,” she said.

Tuszynska said she had contacted the UC Office of the President about sending a copy of the full report and expected to receive it in the next two weeks.

UC Riverside administrators say the report was edited only to protect the identities of those involved.

“The University isn’t hiding anything,” UC Riverside Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jim Sandoval said. “The primary issue here is confidentiality. The portion of this report involving confidentiality was left out and there is no attempt to hide the facts.”

Sandoval said he did not expect an unedited version of the report to be released anytime soon.