Student Advocate's Office Criticizes Campus Arrests of Live Week Activists in Wheeler Hall

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ASUC Student Advocate Hassan Khan released an open statement to the campus community Tuesday that challenges UC Berkeley administrators' handling of the arrests of 66 people last Friday morning at Wheeler Hall.

The activists had occupied the building the whole week and had reached an agreement with the campus administration allowing them to peacefully demonstrate for an "Open University" in the building through the end of Friday, Khan said in the statement.

But after four days passed without any arrests being made at the scene, UCPD officers entered the building at about 4:40 a.m. Friday morning, arresting 65 people people inside as well as an additional person outside. All were taken to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, where students without outstanding warrants were released later in the evening with misdemeanor trespassing charges.

Campus officials said the arrests were necessary in order to prevent a hip hop concert scheduled to take place in the building Friday from damaging the building or conflicting with finals scheduled for Saturday morning.

According to Khan, Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard "provided reasons for the arrests that were not in line with the university's public statements," and that the reasons implied the arrests had been planned even before campus administrators knew of the concert.

Lisa Wang, conduct division director for the student advocate's office, said that the administration was considering arresting the occupiers before the campus knew of the concert, demonstrating bad faith during negotiations between the campus and the demonstrators during the occupation.

"What really concerned us is that (arrests) had been discussed while they were negotiating with students," she said.

Poullard said Wednesday that arresting the occupiers had been an option from the beginning, but only if students did not comply with certain standards of conduct in the building. He said no decision to arrest activists in the building was made until Wednesday when administrators became aware of the concert.

"There were no plans ... for how to deal with outside people or the possibility of alcohol or minors coming in," Poullard said. "Even if they were trying to be peaceful, they couldn't ensure that."

While acknowledging that "the planned unauthorized concert lacked the necessary safety precautions," Khan also criticized the campus for not adequately warning those inside Wheeler Hall Friday morning that they would face arrests, putting undocumented and international students at particular risk.

"They were there for four days without any arrests," Wang said. "If any action is to be taken it should be taken in the beginning (and) not lead students to think it is an acceptable form of protest."

Associate Dean of Students Christina Gonzales said students should have been aware of the possibility of arrest because every night of the occupation, the university informed the occupiers of the legal and student code of conduct violations of their occupation.

"I thought it was clear," she said. "The police filmed it every single night. Every (code) was read to them every night."

Khan said there should have been more discernment in arrests made between the students who planned the concert and those who were simply studying.

"International students could face the risk of being deported," he said. "Now students have a conduct record that passes on to graduate school. These are all things that can carry on through life."

Tags: WHEELER HALL, OPEN UNIVERSITY, LIVE WEEK, UCPD


Emma Anderson covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]



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