November Protesters' Hearings Commence

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The hearing for the first of approximately 48 students charged with conduct violations during the Nov. 18 through Nov. 20 UC systemwide protests took place Thursday, following months of delay amid ongoing controversy surrounding possible procedural violations in the conduct proceedings.

At the end of the nearly eight-hour hearing, a panel of two faculty members, a graduate student, an undergraduate student and a staff member found the UC Berkeley graduate student involved, whose name could not be disclosed because the hearings are confidential, responsible for two of five charges - disruption of administration or other university activities and disturbance of the peace or unlawful assembly.

While sanctioning for the student is slated for 4 p.m. Tuesday, the timeline for the rest of the charged students' hearings has not been set and is "at the whim of the university," said Neil Satterlund, a student at the UC Berkeley School of Law and member of the Campus Rights Project that is advising the students.

"The protracted nature of these proceedings is one more indication that the student conduct code - both its text and implementation - is in need of repair," said Stephen Rosenbaum, a lecturer at the law school who has represented student activists in the past, in an e-mail. "Any potential educational or judicial value of the process is obscured by the delay."

While students assert that the delays have been the result of scheduling by the Office of Student Conduct, campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said students requested the hearings be held in the fall instead of the spring or summer.

"One frustration last year was that students would often have reasons, perhaps quite legitimate reasons, to postpone their hearings or their informal resolution efforts and then accuse us of not doing things expeditiously," said George Breslauer, executive vice chancellor and provost in a Sept. 7 interview with The Daily Californian.

While Satterlund agreed that students requested their hearings not be held over the summer, he added that the spring delays should not be blamed on students.

With one hearing complete, many still remain, said Daniela Urban, a UC Berkeley law student and member of the Campus Rights Project who is also advising students. She estimated that while nearly half of the charged students have been able to reach a settlement consisting of a semester-long stayed suspension and 20 hours of community service, the rest still need hearings and pre-hearings.

Zachary Levenson, a graduate student who occupied Wheeler Hall on Nov. 20, settled for the stayed suspension but expressed concern over the vague language of the settlement.

"Initially I didn't want to settle," Levenson said. "At the same time, I figured I didn't want the focus to be on the ongoing campus struggle with the campus code of conduct. It defers attention from bigger issues in this case, which is the fee hikes."

Yousur Alhlou of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.


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

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