A university has apologised for burying search results concerning the pepper spraying of protesters


The chancellor of a university has apologised over the hiring of a PR firm that promised to bury online search results about the use of pepper spray on peaceful protesters in 2011.

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi issued a statement on the UC Davis University website, admitting that UC Davis, California, brought in a company "specialising in what is known as search engine optimisation".

Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi is escorted from the stage
Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi (Paul Sakuma/AP)

The Sacramento Bee newspaper reported earlier this month that UC Davis hired the PR firm Nevins and Associates on a six-month contract at 15,000 US dollars (£10,400) per month.

The university was trying to deal with the reaction to the incident in which students who were protesting on the campus, near Sacramento, were pepper-sprayed by a campus police officer.

Dr Linda Katehi said in the statement that "the university's identity has been shaken by a series of highly publicized missteps".

She added: "Some were my own doing. All occurred under my watch. For that, I sincerely apologise.

Student Mike Fetterman, receives a treatment for pepper spray
A student received treatment for pepper spraying in 2011 (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

"Consultants were brought in after the highly regrettable 2011 incident when campus police used pepper spray on peacefully protesting students.

"In hindsight, we should have been more careful in reviewing some of the more unrealistic and ridiculous scope-of-work claims in the written proposals of our outside vendors.

"What might be accepted industry hyperbole in the private public relations world falls far beneath the high standards of a public institution of higher learning."