Student journalist's sanction decided

Photo: Josh Wolf, a UC Berkeley graduate student journalist, was found to be responsible for three of five charges. His sanction was to detail the status of journalism on campus.
Josh Wolf/Courtesy
Josh Wolf, a UC Berkeley graduate student journalist, was found to be responsible for three of five charges. His sanction was to detail the status of journalism on campus.

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A UC Berkeley graduate student journalist charged with misconduct violations for his role covering the Nov. 20, 2009 Wheeler Hall occupation was found responsible for three of five charges at the second part of his hearing Wednesday evening, more than 17 months after the protest.

The hearing for Josh Wolf - a student at the campus Graduate School of Journalism - concluded after the hearing panel found him responsible for the charges. His sanction is to complete a paper detailing the status of student journalism on campus, which may aid the campus in revising the campus Code of Student Conduct.

Wolf was found responsible for three violations - unauthorized entry to university properties, obstruction of university activities and failure to comply with officials.

After Jeff Woods, the assistant director for the Center for Student Conduct and Community Standards, completed his presentation of the case, Wolf described his experiences at the occupation, detailed his work as a journalist and highlighted a lack of protection for student journalists on campus.

"It is clear ... that the student conduct office acknowledged that I was inside Wheeler as a journalist," Wolf said. "Neither Jeff Woods's testimony nor that of any of the witnesses called by student conduct have presented any evidence that I am responsible for violating any section of the code."

Alex Barnett, a campus sophomore who participated in the November 2009 occupation testified that Wolf's role in the occupation had been strictly that of a journalist, not a participant.

In the closing statements, Woods asserted that while there was no debate that Wolf is a journalist, the conduct code did not provide protection for student journalists.

"(Wolf) made a decision to be a journalist that day, but he is still our student and expected to abide by the code," Woods said.

In his statement Wolf said the center had not met their burden of proof required by the conduct code.

After deliberating, the panel determined Wolf's responsibility and recommended the sanction, keeping in mind the length of Wolf's proceedings.

While the initial sanction recommended had been a warning - one of the lowest provided for in the code - the panel decided that a warning would be "relatively meaningless."

"It's clear that the code of student conduct will be revised, and we think that Mr. Wolf's input on the role of student journalism on the campus will be invaluable," said panel chair Robert DiMartino, a campus clinical optometry professor.

Following the hearing, Wolf said that while the campus did not have evidence that he violated the code, he was pleased the role of student journalists on campus would be addressed.

"I'm at a loss for how I was found responsible, but by and large, I'm happy to see that (the campus) is taking a serious perspective on the importance of journalists being able to have unmitigated access to what's going on on their campus," Wolf said.


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

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