News in Brief: Graduate Student Instructors, University Extend Mediation Period



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The three-week period of mediation between the graduate student instructors and the university has been extended until Wednesday, according to union officials.

"We felt it was beneficial to have one more day of mediation," said Tanya Mahn, an organizer with the United Auto Workers.

Mahn declined to comment further because discussions are ongoing. Extending the deadline, which was supposed to expire Friday, will allow the university and its academic student employees another opportunity to come to an agreement.

The mediation was called on March 16, the day before UC graduate student instructors were set to begin striking. Tensions have been high since negotiations between the two parties failed to produce a contract.

Linda Shin

Symposium Addresses Alleged Armenian Genocide

The most elaborate denial of genocide in history was committed earlier this century by the Turkish government, said a genocide scholar who spoke on campus Friday.

A symposium, titled "Twentieth Century Genocide: Memory, Denial and Accountability," was organized by the Armenian Student Association.

The event was partially in response to an incident two years ago in which a university professor issued racial epithets at Armenian students on campus, denying the historical validity of the term "Armenian genocide."

On April 24, 1998, Near Eastern Studies professor Hamid Algar allegedly spat upon and racially demeaned Armenian students tabling on Sproul Plaza.

Eight members of the Armenian Students Association filed a grievance report to several university offices in May of 1998, including the Student Advocate Office and the UC Board of Regents. In the report, the students claimed the professor hurled racial slurs and spit in one of the student's eyes.

Algar called the students "lying pigs" and "stupid Armenians," according to the report.

Although the university eventually found that Algar's actions were protected under free speech, the incident sparked letters of protest from Armenian students to the university and drew attention to the alleged genocide.

The university took no disciplinary action against Algar but the ASUC Senate passed a censure bill against the professor.

Last year, the Armenian Student Association commemorated the massacre on the one year anniversary of Algar's verbal attack.

The group played Armenian mourning music and displayed black-and-white photographs on upper Sproul Plaza. They also sent a letter signed by more than 100 people to Chancellor Robert Berdahl, asking him to publicly reprimand Algar.

Friday's event addressed major genocides of the 20th century.

Roger Smith, president of the Association of Genocide Scholars, spoke at the event and said the denial of the alleged genocide continues to plague modern scholars and governments.

"The Turkish Republic - established in 1921 - is not guilty of physical genocide against Armenians, but it continues to the present day to deny that the young Turk government engaged in massive destruction of Armenians from 1915 to 1917," he said.

Smith made several references to a document issued by The Association of Genocide Scholars in which the members unanimously approved the historical validity of the alleged genocide.

Speakers at the event also included Helen Fein, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Genocide, Susan Cook, the director of the Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University and Richard Buxbaum, UC Berkeley professor of international law.

Matt Bowman

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