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Berdahl Expresses Sympathy, Explains Due Process Issues

posted September 2, 1998

Chancellor Robert Berdahl met with more than 40 reporters last week following a noisy and emotional demonstration on Aug. 26 against a UC Berkeley sophomore who reportedly walked away after his best friend attacked a child in a Nevada casino last year. The friend later allegedly killed the 7-year-old girl. Police say the Berkeley student kept quiet about the crime when his friend confessed.

The chancellor extended sympathy to Yolanda Manuel, the mother of the slain child, who joined the protesters. The majority of the demonstrators were bused to the campus by two Los Angeles radio talk-show hosts.

Berdahl also expressed outrage at the crime, but explained that the university had a legal responsibility to protect the due process rights of the Berkeley student, who has not been charged with any crime.

Here is the statement Chancellor Berdahl gave at the press conference. (A full transcript of the press conference is also available here.)


I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to Ms. Yolanda Manuel and her family, who suffered the tragic loss of their 7-year-old daughter. Sherrice Iverson's death was a brutal and senseless act of violence that our entire university community condemns in the strongest possible terms.

The university has been asked to expel a student who failed to report what he knew of the crime. The public has been outraged not only by the crime itself but by press reports of callous and reprehensible statements attributed to the student. I had the same reaction when I read those comments. However, as a public institution the university has due process procedures it must follow in cases of dismissal. This student has not been charged with any violation of criminal law or the campus student code that would provide a basis for any such review. We cannot set aside due process based upon our outrage over a particular instance.

The demonstration that was held today on this campus is an appropriate means of launching a discussion of the adequacy of existing legislation. We need to build a safer society by ensuring that each of us takes the safety and well-being of our fellow citizens as our own personal responsibility. As a public university we strive to educate students to assume that responsibility.



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