Protester Faces Conduct Hearing Friday

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Update: Before the hearing began, the hearing panel discussed and ruled that Thomas Frampton of the Campus Rights Project would be allowed to speak at the hearing as Aakash Desai's adviser.

Following the resolution of most of the student conduct cases for UC Berkeley students involved in the November 2009 occupation of Wheeler Hall, a public hearing for one of the remaining protesters is slated for Friday, amid controversy surrounding the possible lack of representation for the student in the hearing.

The hearing - which is the second public hearing this semester for protesters involved in the November 2009 occupation - will be held for Aakash Desai, a campus graduate student facing five charges of misconduct for his involvement, according to Thomas Frampton, a UC Berkeley School of Law student and member of the Campus Rights Project who is advising Desai.

According to Frampton, Desai's case is "literally identical" to the the first public hearing this semester for campus senior Julian Martinez, whose case was resolved early last week when a faculty panel ruled that he was was not responsible for all five charges.

Desai was arrested at the same time as Martinez, and both face the same five charges. He added that the evidence against Desai - including police reports and police testimony - is also identical to that in the Martinez case.

However, according to Frampton, where the similarities between the two cases do end is problematic. Frampton said in an e-mail that panel chair Ron Fearing, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will not allow Frampton to speak at the hearing - a marked change from his decision in Martinez's case, where Frampton was allowed to speak.

"The University seems to have realized it's easier to get a conviction when they muzzle the adviser," Frampton said in the e-mail. "We don't think that's fair."

However, according to the campus Code of Student Conduct, whether or not a student's adviser will be allowed to speak is at the discretion of the faculty chair. While the code allows students to consult with their advisers, during hearings "students must speak on their own behalf ... Exceptions will only be made by the hearing panel or hearing officer in unusual circumstances."

Desai has been charged with five violations of the campus Code of Student Conduct, including conduct threatening people's health and safety, disruption of university activities, participation in a disturbance of the peace or unlawful assembly and obstructing university officials in the performance of their duties, and unauthorized entry and use of university equipment, according to Frampton.

Tags: STUDENT CONDUCT, CAMPUS RIGHTS PROJECT, NOV. 20 WHEELER HALL OCCUPATION


Aaida Samad covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]



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