Evidence Presented at Conduct Hearing for UC Berkeley Junior

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Wednesday's public hearing for UC Berkeley junior Laura Zelko, charged with five violations of the campus Code of Student Conduct for her involvement in protests last November, lasted about 11 hours as police and campus staff presented evidence to the hearing panel, which is expected to pass judgment at the next hearing to be scheduled after Nov. 8.

Zelko is the second student to have a hearing - the first of which took place in September and was private - for alleged misconduct during the November protests. According to Christina Gonzales, associate dean of students, there are 17 students with conduct allegations still pending. There is no current timetable for scheduling their hearings.

Zelko, who participated in the Nov. 18 sit-in at the Architecture and Engineering building and the Nov. 20 Wheeler Hall occupation, said she is not responsible for any of the charges, which include unauthorized conduct, physical abuse, obstruction of university activities, disturbing the peace and failure to comply.

At Wednesday's hearing, the panel - composed of math professor Paul Vojta; genetics, genomics and development professor Georjana Barnes; Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy Martha Chavez and two students, graduate student David Fannon and undergraduate Alan Yu - heard all presented evidence relating to Zelko's case. At the next part of the hearing, the panel will determine whether or not Zelko is responsible for the alleged conduct violations and discuss sanctions.

According to Gonzales, the panel will forward their recommendation to Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard's designee Steve Sutton, executive director of the office of student development, who will make a final decision on Zelko's possible punishment. The process could take as long as four weeks after the second hearing.

Both a UCPD lieutenant and a UCPD sergeant testified against Zelko at Wednesday's meeting, as did a staff member from the Office of the Registrar who said the office was asked by the administration to find alternative classrooms in preparation for the Nov. 20 protest, although no classes relocated.

Laura Bennett, assistant director for the Center for Student Conduct and Community Standards, said in her opening statement that Zelko "caused a disruption" when she was one of 37 individuals who occupied the A&E building Nov. 18. Bennett said the Wheeler occupation resulted in "the displacement of over 3,800 students who had classes that were supposed to occur that day."

"I believe that an individual's conduct is not the same as a group's conduct," Zelko said in her opening statement. "Saying that someone contributed to the totality of an incident - therefore they are responsible for the totality of an incident - is not educational and, in fact, is not justice."

Daniela Urban, a UC Berkeley School of Law student and a member of the Campus Rights Project, said the Office of Student Conduct did not link Zelko's specific acts as violations of conduct.

Contact Mary Susman at [email protected]

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