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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 30 · Number 1 · Fall 2012


Swimming with Debbie Meyer

[Re: From “Olympic Gold to Aggie Blue,” summer 2012] Only a few of us old Aggie swimmers recall that Debbie Meyer worked out at the same time as the UC Davis men’s team in the old Hickey Pool in late 1967/early 1968 in preparation for qualifying for the 1968 Olympics. The Hickey pool was apparently the only “long course” (33 1/3 yards) available in the Sacramento area, and her coach wanted her to get used to a longer pool. Needless to say, we were all in awe of a 16-year-old girl lapping our best distance swimmers. 

Galen Denio ’70
Poulsbo, Wash.

Editorial balance?

I’m suspicious that two letters in the summer 2012 issue [“Pepper Spray: ‘Enough Drama,’ ‘Stop Apologizing’”] are supportive of violent tactics against students. And there are no rebuttals printed. Shame. Those who are the least able to defend their cause are the students. When they resort to nonviolent protest, they receive violence in return, and then alumni and parents fault them — not the police, who were instigators of unnecessary vehemence and alpha male behavior.

I believe that one models the behavior one wants to see, and UC Davis did not do this well. I grew up in Davis and attended UC Davis: Davis has always been about peace. The support of the aggressor has never been a Davis message. I am shocked that this could happen in Davis. There are many of us who feel the same way. We’re also the people who support health care. And kindness. And art. And questioning authority. And irreverence. Please at least counter the letters you printed with a letter that urges everyone to care about all humans, even when one disagrees with their message and civil protest.

Jennifer Ball, attended 1976–77

Editor’s note: While we try to represent a balance of opinions in our letters section, the mix of letters received does vary from one issue of the magazine to the next. Those two letters were the only ones on the topic sent to us in time for the summer issue. The previous issue, spring 2012, included seven letters expressing diverse views on last November’s protests, the campus police actions, the administration’s response and the magazine’s coverage. The winter 2012 issue had one letter, received just as it was going to press, condemning the pepper spraying of students. You can read those letters online at

Arboretum ‘eyesore’

Your article on the arboretum [“Outside the Box,” summer 2012] was great. I truly enjoyed reading about the changes made and planned future improvements. However, one item has continued to perplex me for more than four decades: Why is Lake Spafford so deplorable?

Every time I visit Sacramento I always make a pilgrimage to walk through the arboretum. And for countless decades, the lake and Putah Creek feeder have continued to be an eyesore. I just cannot fathom why this has been the case, given that the university has an engineering school and environmental science division?

Can’t anyone come up with some sort of economical pumping system to keep the water continually flowing? With all the planned improvements and changes, Lake Spafford should rank high on this list.

Michael Schiavo ’69

Bob Segar, assistant vice chancellor for campus planning and community resources, responds: We share Mr. Schiavo’s desire for a more attractive Arboretum Waterway — and for the first time, I’m confident that we have a strategy in place to accomplish just that. In the past, many attempts have been made to improve the water quality in the waterway: dredging the basin, aerating the water, even introducing treated waste water to establish water flow. But since the shaping of the waterway in the 1960s, there has never been a redesign to right-size the channel to keep water moving. We have just completed a successful pilot project at the east end of the waterway, led by Andrew Fulks, manager of the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve, and Ryan Deering of the arboretum staff. With the help of reserve steward J.P. Marie, they modified the elevation along a stretch of the waterway to create small waterfalls, then pumped water back to the top for a recycling of the water. The test successfully broke up existing algae pads and kept new algae from forming. In coming months we hope to upsize this approach and, section by section, achieve the long-standing goal of a waterway worthy of the beauty of the arboretum gardens.


magazine cover showing trail through garden

A photo that appeared in “Outside the Box” and on the cover of the summer 2012 issue was incorrectly identified. The photo shows the Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California Native Plants in the UC Davis Arboretum.