Recording with Chancellor May: Pride Picnic
To the UC Davis community:
Nothing says UC Davis more than Picnic Day. Let’s hear it for the Picnic Day Council – the students who persevered last year and again this year to keep that tradition alive during the pandemic. Saturday’s virtual event is our 107th picnic day, a truly impressive record. I also thank the hundreds of faculty, staff and other students for their online content, most of which is new: over 100 events and exhibits (including live presentations and on-demand videos) – all the activities of our open house.
In addition to the virtual parade, the day will include the traditional tribune ceremony where I will say a few words. You will also hear from our Picnic Day curators, Maisha Winn and Lawrence “Torry” Winn, faculty members of the School of Education where they co-founded the Center for transformative justice in education. Look for the calendar of events and all links (if applicable) on the Picnic Day Website.
One of the benefits of the Virtual Picnic Day is that Aggies can participate anywhere in the world. People who live in or near Davis may be inclined to meet friends – it’s picnic day, after all – but here’s the thing: we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Please think twice about your plans (and see our information below on “Gatherings and Meetings”).
Importantly, public health protocols remain in place: facial covers and the physical distance between them, and, at UC Davis, regular asymptomatic testing.
Also, get vaccinated as soon as possible, wherever you can. UC Davis Health recommends it. I recommand it. (And I’m happy to report that UC Davis Health gave around 70,000 injections yesterday, while the Davis Campus Vaccination Clinic hit the 10,000 mark two days ago.)
Reasons for caution
Even as more and more people are being vaccinated, remember this important caveat for our community: Most students only became eligible recently, so their vaccination rates are lower.
Add to that yesterday’s news that a third variant of COVID-19, P.1, which first appeared in Brazil, has been identified in Yolo County, and you can see cause for concern. Healthy Davis Together and the UC Davis Genome Center have now confirmed the presence of the P.1, B.1.1.7, and B.1.351 variants in the county. All three have higher rates of transmission, which means they spread more easily and increase their prevalence quickly. In fact, B.1.1.7 accounted for two-thirds of Yolo County’s positive cases in the first week of April, similar to the trend seen elsewhere.
While research is still ongoing on the transmission of COVID-19 between vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and the variants, public health experts urge everyone to continue to follow all public health protocols. And, if you haven’t been vaccinated, consider making an appointment. See the Campus Ready COVID-19 Vaccine Program webpage for more information.
Gatherings and Meetings
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, no social / informal gatherings are allowed on campus, indoors or outdoors.
On the business side, while we still strongly encourage UC Davis departments to host remote meetings, trainings and conferences, please note that they can now be held in person, on or off campus, indoors. or externally, when the needs of the business are best served by in-person engagement. We updated our tips yesterday to keep up with status updates.
See Help you plan in-person activities at UC Davis on the Campus Ready website for full guidance and requirements. Limited spaces on indoor and outdoor campuses will be available for reservation during the spring term.
The webpage also includes advice for off-campus social / informal gatherings (non-university businesses): these are permitted under state public health guidelines, which include capacity limits as well as coverage requirements. facial and physical distance, among other restrictions.
Another tragic murder
Once again we cry. I posted a statement earlier this week on the death of Daunte Wright, 20, father of a 2 year old boy, and in my post you will find a link to President Drake’s statement. I told our community that I understand how easy it is to feel hurt, frustrated, angry, and just plain exhausted. And I urged students, staff and faculty to ask for support. Here are the links I provided: Student health and counseling services and the Education and staff assistance program for mental health issues, and Racial trauma resources compiled by our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
To help facilitate requests for flexibility that may come from students, faculty are encouraged to consider current academic flexibilities in place and standard educational accommodation resources available.
Along with the picnic day, our fifth Give birth, which actually lasts 29 hours. It started at noon today and continues until 5 p.m. Saturday. We set a donation record last year, in the first year of the pandemic, and we hope we will do so again this year. Gifts of all sizes are extremely useful to our students, to our research, to our mission.
This year’s donation day includes 233 “challenges” worth over $ 2.3 million – wow! That’s almost as much as last year’s Give Day total.
For each challenge, a donor commits in advance to a particular cause, then calls on other donors to donate to the same cause. Once a certain number of donations arrive, the initial advance pledge is released. It’s a fun way to build excitement and give.
You can browse all the challenges here, or go to the bottom of the page to see a list of “areas to support”, and click on one of the areas that interests you most. We are very grateful for all the support.
The challenges include:
- Student support: beyond the classroom challenge, $ 75,000 promised by Kim and Kevin Bacon, in exchange for 30 gifts.
- BioLaunch Challenge, for the first-year experience program at the College of Biological Sciences, $ 15,000 promised by Mardi Dier in exchange for 25 gifts.
- Support challenge for students of the College of Letters and Sciences, $ 5,000 promised in exchange for 10 gifts.
- Civil and environmental engineering challenge, for struggling students, $ 2,500 pledged by Douglas Yerkes ’91, Ph.D., PE, in exchange for 45 gifts.
- Dairy challenge in animal sciences, in support of Animal Science goat and dairy dairy, $ 2,500 pledged by Arthur Bliss in exchange for 10 gifts.
- Global Aggies for LGBTQIA Rights Challenge, $ 2,500 pledged by Ralph J. Hexter, former provost and executive vice-chancellor, and Manfred Kollmeier, in exchange for 10 gifts.
- Boot options – You should have received my email earlier today announcing an in-person option for early spring. Read the email here. Graduate students will receive more information via email early next week.
- Autumn Quarter – We continue to plan for our return to in-person teaching and other activities, and plan to provide more information (including advice on vaccination) next week.
- Travel tips – Global Affairs released an update today, based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. UC Davis continues to advise against non-essential travel, both nationally and internationally (consideration of essential travel is stated in the announcement). All travel for university business must be registered. Note: Guidelines for domestic or international personal travel have been removed.
Of global importance
- Earth Day (April 22) – Or, as is becoming the norm at UC Davis, Earth Month. Please consult the Event calendar here, including the Climate Story Art Jam (April 17), the Zero Waste Workshop (April 21) and the Energy and Sustainability Career Panel (April 23).
- UC Davis Global Learning Conference – “Preparing for your global future in a changing world”, open to all undergraduates, graduates and professionals, as well as alumni. Friday-Sunday April 23-25. Release.
- UC World Health Day – “Decolonizing Global Health to Advance Health Equity”, open to all. Saturday April 24. Free.
Celebrate UC Davis
Picnic Day and Giving Day give all of us a chance to celebrate and support all that we have accomplished at UC Davis, from our founding as a University Farm to our status as one of the best research universities in the country and the world. Therefore, let’s put our best feet forward. Be responsible, speak up if something is wrong and sign it Picnic day engagement if you haven’t already.
We have reason to be optimistic, for our institution and for the health of our community – it’s a weekend to be thankful, to show our Aggie pride.
Gary S. May