conduct hearings begin for Wheeler Hall occupation
From Media Relations
first student conduct hearing related to the April 9, 2002,
occupation of Wheeler Hall began today (Monday, 9/30). A series
of administrative hearings, in which approximately 30 students
face charges that they violated the campus Code of Student Conduct,
have been scheduled and are expected to conclude by the end
hearing was presided over by a three-person hearing panel chaired
by Professor David Zusman. The hearing panel consisted of two
faculty members and a UC Berkeley student. The hearing is continuing.
all, 41 students involved in the Wheeler Hall protest were charged
with various violations of UC Berkeley's Code of Student Conduct,
including "obstruction or disruption of teaching or other
university activity." The student whose hearing was held
today also faces charges of biting a police officer during his
arrest. Nine students did not contest the charges and have settled
their cases, while the others requested a hearing.
Wheeler Hall charges stem from an April 9 action in which 78
people, including the 41 students, were arrested. The group,
advocating that the UC Board of Regents divest from companies
that do business with Israel, had marched from a Sproul Plaza
rally and rushed past police officers and into the lobby of
Wheeler Hall. Inside the building, classes were in session and
some students were taking midterm exams. Read
Q&A about the Student Conduct hearings and the student judicial
affairs process in general
Did student protesters know that their actions could
result in suspensions?
In the hearing today, the dean of students, Karen Kenney, testified
that the protest and occupation of the Wheeler Hall lobby on
April 9, 2002, had disrupted classes. She said student groups,
including students involved in the sit-in, had been repeatedly
warned by Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl and student affairs officials
prior to April 9 that disruption of the academic mission of
the campus could result in sanctions "up to and including
suspension or expulsion."
Some of the students and their supporters have charged that
the students face these sanctions because they support Palestine.
Is this true?
The dean of students repeatedly testified that there was no
political bias in the filing of the charges or the proposed
sanctions. She said protests and rallies are an expected and
valued part of the UC Berkeley culture, but that there are limitations
outlined in the campus's rules and regulations that bar protests
from interfering with the university's ability to carry out
its academic mission, its most important function.
She testified that any student or group of students who intentionally
disrupted a classroom building would face the possibility of
the same sanctions, up to and including suspension or expulsion.
Are the student conduct charges related to the criminal charges
that were filed against some students involved in the protest?
University student conduct processes and the criminal courts
are two different and distinct systems. Also, criminal cases
require conviction based on a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt. UC Berkeley's Code of Student Conduct calls for a conviction
based on a preponderance of evidence.
Why are some conduct hearings closed to the public and others
A student's hearing is always closed unless the student
asks for it to be open. Even in that case, the faculty member
who chairs the hearing panel may decide to keep a hearing closed
for several reasons, which are outlined in the Code of Student
Conduct. One of those reasons is to ensure an orderly hearing
can be held.
today's hearing, the chair of the hearing panel closed the hearing
to the general public, but allowed news reporters to attend
and report on the proceedings.
the hearing, about 100 to 150 supporters of the student whose
case was being heard massed around police barricades to protest
the closing of the hearing and chanted loudly their demands
that the charges be dropped.