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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 30 · Number 4 · Summer 2013


From the editor

If I had to pick my favorite spot on this beautiful, sprawling campus, I’d choose the Memorial Union—and not only for the Coffee House’s tasty food. I love it for the generous slices of campus life it serves up.

More . . .

Where’s the evidence?

[Re: “Reducing Gun Violence,” spring ’13] I would like to ask if Professor Wintemute’s suggestions for reducing gun violence are based on any statistical analyses, or merely his personal opinion? Has he considered the unintended consequences of his proposals, or studied the effects of similar proposals on gun violence? For instance, do states with stricter gun sales laws have lower rates of crime as a result? Or would the mentally disturbed be less likely to seek help if they knew it might result in the forfeiture of their gun rights? Perhaps a more in-depth article would let us in on the details of his research on this complex issue.

Robert Baker ’81
Lagunitas (Marin County)

Garen Wintemute responds: Mr. Baker and other interested readers can access our published research at the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program website.

Editor’s note: UC Davis Magazine profiled the professor of emergency medicine and his gun-violence prevention research in the spring 2012 feature “Pound of Cure."

‘Prevention impossible’

After careful review of the four mentioned mass shootings, one fact stands out: No broadening of denial criteria would have had prevented these crimes. Sandy Hook: [Adam] Lanza never had to purchase a gun; he stole and used his mother’s. Aurora: [James] Holmes’ psychiatrist’s warning went unheeded by proper authorities. Virginia Tech: Virginia law kept [Seung-Hui] Cho’s name from being on the denial list — that law has since been corrected. Columbine: The perpetrators got guns through friend’s private party sale.

Since private party sales are unknown to government, prevention is impossible. (Wintemute’s assertion that private party sellers cannot obtain a background check is absolutely false. They can and often insist on it.) Criminal access to guns is likewise unpreventable. If all law-abiding citizens were disallowed ownership of firearms, could criminals still get them? How successful has our government been at even slowing the massive flow of drugs into this country? Gun laws have nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with government’s ability to take away our other civil rights. They simply infringe on innocent citizens’ ability to defend themselves from enemies foreign and domestic.

Carl Reed ’76
Igo (Shasta County)


How many employees?!

The editor’s letter in the winter 2013 issue said that UC Davis is a “family of more than 32,000 students and 23,500 faculty and staff.” Now I’m far from being any sort of math wizard, but I hope this ratio is a misprint. If not, it seems to me that there is a great disparity in numbers at UC Davis. It is difficult for me to imagine any educational operation requiring almost three individuals to support the education of every four individuals. I do feel, as an alumnus and a citizen of California paying exorbitant state taxes, that if this ratio is correct, an explanation is needed.

Fred Koschnick ’66
Mount Shasta

Editor’s note: Our tally was a little high. In the most recent annual count in October 2012, UC Davis’ full-time equivalent employees totaled 21,500. That doesn’t change the ratio of employees to students much, but there’s more to the figure than first meets the eye.

For an explanation, we turned to Bob Loessberg-Zahl, director of institutional analysis: “More than one-third of these employees (8,200) work in clinical operations of the UC Davis Medical Center and clinics, which do support the health sciences education and research mission of UC Davis, but also provide health care to 6 million people in 33 counties. Of the remaining 13,000 employees, about one-third (4,000) were faculty or other academic appointees directly engaged in the core teaching and research mission of

UC Davis. An additional 3,300 were students supporting their education through employment, some as teaching assistants or research assistants, some as valued part-time employees in the campus’s various academic and administrative departments.

The remaining 5,700 employees are in service to the students and faculty, keeping a campus the size and complexity of a small city in daily operation — providing student housing and food services, student advising and support services, library services, financial aid operations, operations and maintenance of plant, safety services, human resources, accounting and financial services.

Double major at work

I was thrilled to be included in the spring issue [“Served with Aggie Pride" article] focusing on alumni involved in food science and the culinary arts. In the profile, my degree was listed as Spanish. However, I wanted to be sure readers know that I also majored in women and gender studies.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Spanish major and have found it to be a useful degree. But my positions as an intern at the Women’s Resources and Research Center and as women’s studies peer adviser, and completing my honors thesis in women’s studies, are where I honed my outreach, activism, event planning and writing skills. This academic and practical experience served me so well that I was hired to work for then-Assemblywoman Helen Thomson shortly after graduating. Helen’s passion for preserving agriculture and supporting local farmers further informed my education and assists me every day as a local seasonal restaurant owner and food activist.

Rhonda Gruska ’99

Swayed by the band

Steve Shuman’s memoir in your spring issue about the Cal Aggie Mavrik Band of the late ’60s [Aggies Remember: “The Plane that Smiled”] made me smile all the way through. I finished my Ph.D. at UC Davis in 1969 and accepted a job at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which had just changed its name from Nevada Southern, the school that had beaten the Aggies in their first NCAA playoff in 1967. In the fall of ’69 one of the visiting teams to play my new school was my old school, UC Davis. My loyalties were split . . . until the Aggie band showed up at the Las Vegas Convention Center in hillbilly straw hats, overalls, painted on freckles and blacked-out front teeth. When they started singing “Bossy Cow Cow (Moo! Moo!)” I knew whom I would cheer for in that game at least. Although Shuman says there were no women in the band before ’73, I am pretty sure I saw some band members who looked like women; of course, they might have been men wearing blonde wigs.

Leon Coburn ’69
Las Vegas

A dream job

I enjoyed the article [“A London Reunion with an Old Friend”] in the spring 2013 issue about the Unitrans double-decker buses, RTL 1014 and 1194, which I remember with fondness. I was a Unitrans driver during 1970–72, which paid my rent and other living expenses for my junior and senior years at UC Davis. The drivers (all men) and the conductors (all women) would meet at the beginning of each quarter with our effective and benevolent manager and, based on class schedules, work out who would drive which of the three routes at what time. We had two rules: Show up for your shift on time, and wear shoes. . . .

Our pay was $2.35 an hour. The raise in 1971 to $2.50 was stopped by [President Richard] Nixon’s wage freeze in his efforts to curb inflation. Looking back over 40 years, I can say my time with Unitrans was one of the best jobs I ever had. 

Michael Grubb ’72
San Francisco

What about club teams?

[“Broccoli or Big Macs,” spring 2013], another article about the wonders of UC Davis’ NCAA student-athletes, quotes [Associate Athletics Director] Joshua Flushman: “We’re investing more and more in student-athletes.” Perhaps a bit less could be spent and cut sports be reinstated. UC Davis has club teams that work as hard as NCAA teams, practicing many hours a day, six days a week, but they also have to work hard on fundraising for their existence. Athletes, parents and friends pay for coaches’ salaries, equipment, facility fees, competition fees and travel. How nice it would be if some of the resources offered the NCAA teams could benefit these equally worthy teams too. These teams compete locally, throughout the state and country, under the Aggie name. The school doesn’t seem to recognize the abilities of these athletes. Perhaps the magazine could.

Laura Neary, parent

Laura Hall, recreation director for Campus Recreation and Unions, responds: While we are proud of our 37 sports clubs and their numerous accomplishments in collegiate competition, our primary focus remains on developing students and fostering their leadership and lifelong skills. Each club is managed and run by the students themselves, and these student leaders gain skills in collaboration, problem-solving, financial management and fundraising, and communication among other areas. More than 1,500 students participate in the sport club program each year, and their successes are routinely recognized through departmental monthly e-guides and quarterly spotlights. Within the past year, two national championship teams were also recognized at a reception hosted by Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi.

Editor’s note: Thanks for the story suggestion. For two intramural-related profiles, please see our feature “Driving Innovation” with sections on former coach Marya Welch and former director Gary Colberg.

An inspired teacher

In response to “Offended’s” letter [winter 2013] objecting to Annameekee Hesik’s [fall 2012] essay about how she met her wife at UC Davis, I would like Mr. From to know that the highlight of my 39-year teaching career as a special education teacher/resource specialist was the time spent collaborating and co-teaching with Ms. Hesik in her 10th-grade English classes. I sincerely wish he, too, had the opportunity to witness such exemplary, respectful, sensitive and inspirational teaching. He could then know and appreciate this person of true integrity and compassion.

Melissa (Bates) Matlow ’71