Category Archives: UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley student arrested after fraternity rape report

The Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house on Piedmont Avenue
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Update, 4 p.m. The district attorney’s office declined to file charges in the case. According to office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick, “Based upon a review of the evidence presented by the Berkeley Police Department, we have declined to file criminal charges.” Berkeleyside removed the student’s name, and several identifying details, in light of this new information.

Original story, 7 a.m. Authorities have arrested a 20-year-old UC Berkeley student on suspicion of rape in connection with a case from earlier this year reported to have taken place at a fraternity party near campus.

The Berkeley Police Department arrested the young man at 7 a.m. Thursday after serving a search warrant at his fraternity house at 2395 Piedmont Ave., at Channing Way, authorities said.

UCPD identifies that location as Phi Gamma Delta, a fraternity that is not officially recognized by the CalGreeks organization.

Sgt. Andrew Frankel, BPD spokesman, said the arrest was in connection with “an on-going sexual assault investigation.”

According to a statement released by UCPD on Feb. 22, the victim had attended a party at a fraternity house in the 2300 block of Piedmont three days earlier, on Friday, Feb. 19. The sexual assault took place between midnight and 12:45 a.m. Saturday in a room at the fraternity, which was not named.

According to the UCPD statement, “a report was made to a Campus Security Authority who is required under the Federal Clery Act to report it to the campus Clery Compliance Officer. UCPD is in turn required to alert our community of the crime.” … Continue reading »

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Human skull, bones found on Berkeley Lab property

A human skull and three bones were unearthed on Berkeley Lab property on Monday. Photo: LBL Photo: Berkeley Lab
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A human skull and three human bones were discovered on Berkeley Lab property Monday during some routine digging to clear a ditch.

According to a release put out by the Lab on Wednesday, a Lab facilities crew working to clear a drainage ditch in “very steep and brushy terrain” on Berkeley Lab’s southern perimeter discovered a skull and one bone around 1:30 p.m. Monday.

The Alameda County coroner’s office was called in and completed its search of the site on Tuesday after finding two more bones. The remains were found outside of Berkeley Lab’s fence line but on Berkeley Lab’s property. 

It is not known how long the remains were in the ditch, nor how old they are. Foul play is not suspected, according to the Lab’s statement, pending new information from the coroner’s office.

Jon Weiner, a spokesman for the Lab, said they were waiting to hear back from the coroner’s office as to any possible identification of the remains. … Continue reading »

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Photos: 100s turn up, chill out for 420 day on Cal campus

420 Day on the UC Berkeley campus, April 20, 2016. Photo: Ted Friedman
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People came out in droves to Memorial Glade on the UC Berkeley campus Wednesday to mark 420 day, an international celebration of cannabis culture. The mood was, as might be expected, mellow and the more entrepreneurial among the student body were making munchies available.

The origins of 420 day are as hazy as a cloud of marijuana smoke: urban myths include the notion that 420 is the police radio code for smoking marijuana in public; 4/20 was the day Adolf Hitler — or perhaps Jim Morrison of The Doors died; or that 420 relates to California’s penal code relating to cannabis. The most likely explanation is close to home and involves a group of San Rafael high-school students, at least according to Slate.

Contributing photographer Ted Friedman checked out the scene at Cal — at around 4:20 p.m., naturally. … Continue reading »

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New Cal Performances season puts focus on inclusion, innovation, immersion

Black Arm Band. Photo: Cal Performances
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A world premiere of  a Mark Morris work, the first fully staged performance of an opera in 270 years, a restaging of a groundbreaking collaboration between John Adams, Lucinda Childs and Frank Gehry, a residency by London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, a choral festival, and a complete cycle of Beethoven string quartets are among the highlights of the 2016-17 season of Cal Performances.

At the core of the 111th Cal Performances season are what executive and artistic director Matías Tarnopolsky calls “three strands of artistic exploration”: inclusion, innovation and immersion. The inclusion theme kicks off with the season opening world premiere of Mark Morris Dance Group’s “Layla and Majnun,” with music performed by The Silk Road Ensemble with the voices of Azerbaijan’s Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, with sets and costumes by British artist Howard Hodgkin.  … Continue reading »


Op-ed: Housing is scarce, but UC’s new project is too big

This rendering shows the Stiles Site Student Housing Project from Spieker Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus, looking southeast. Photo: UC Berkeley
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There is no doubt that there is a housing shortage in Berkeley and with UC’s decision to admit more students, the crunch will get even worse. Yet the university’s plan to build an 8-story, 783-bed housing complex on Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue, east of Dana Street and just south of the UC Berkeley campus, is just plain wrong, argue Bill McClung and Martin Holder in an Opinionator piece. The planned design extends from property line to property line … Continue reading »

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley forecasts $85 million deficit reduction over next year

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks at Uncharted 2015. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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The first results of UC Berkeley’s comprehensive strategic review account for a deficit reduction of $85 million by the end of the next fiscal year and staff cuts of 500 over the next two years, according to an email sent to faculty and staff by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks yesterday.

In February, Dirks warned about “a substantial and growing structural deficit,” which he termed “unsustainable.” The deficit for the current fiscal year was forecast to reach about $150 million.

In his email yesterday, Dirks said the university’s goal was to have a balanced budget by 2019-20.  … Continue reading »

BioBlitz logs biodiversity on UC Berkeley campus

UC Berkeley student Karen Gallardo holds a spider found by Jakob Rees in the Eucalyptus Grove. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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A crowd of intrepid young scientists brushed off Saturday morning rain to participate in the Berkeley BioBlitz. The BioBlitz was designed to be an intensive study of biodiversity on the UC Berkeley campus, and was one of over two dozen BioBlitz events held around California to celebrate the National Park centennial.

Photographer Kelly Sullivan put on her rain gear to chronicle the day for Berkeleyside.

Using the iNaturalist app, 32 different observers logged 290 observations of a total 54 species. The rain brought out the amphibians: the two most observed species were the California Slender Salamander (seven observations) and the Arboreal Salamander (six observations).  … Continue reading »

UC Berkeley

Cal assistant coach rebuts sexual harassment accusation

Yann Hufnagel. Photo: CalBears
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Lawyers for Yann Hufnagel, the Cal assistant basketball coach who was relieved of his duties on March 14 following a finding that he had violated the university’s sexual harassment policy, have presented the university with new evidence they say proves his innocence.

“The evidence shows this is not harassment,” said Mary McNamara of Swanson & McNamara. “I really believe the university will reach the correct decision.”

McNamara has presented the university with 900 text messages between Hufnagel and the reporter who filed the sexual harassment complaint. According to McNamara, the extensive text history shows “mutual flirtation,” not harassment. San Francisco-based crisis communications consultant Sam Singer and the lawyers released a handful of the messages to the media today.

In a statement issued today, the university questions why Hufnagel did not present the full text message archive during the investigation by the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD).  … Continue reading »

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Man wanted after sexual assault arrested in Tennessee

Sheldon Johnson. Photo: NCRIC
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A 23-year-old man wanted in connection with a sexual assault on the UC Berkeley campus was arrested by authorities in Tennessee over the weekend after a report of a domestic dispute.

The Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which had previously identified Sheldon Harley Johnson as a wanted fugitive now lists him as “captured.”

Scroll down for updates.

According to NCRIC, he had been wanted for a sexual assault on the Cal campus. No other details about that case were posted.

The University of California Police Department declined Tuesday to provide any information about that incident, but said it would be putting out a crime alert at some point.

The Daily News Journal, which is based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, reported Tuesday morning that Johnson was arrested during a call involving a domestic dispute over the weekend.  … Continue reading »

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2 Berkeley officials call for Fulton Street bike lane

Bike East Bay says a protected bike lane like this on Fulton Street would make cyclists safer. Image: Bike East Bay
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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and mayoral hopeful Councilman Jesse Arreguín have teamed up to ask the city manager to move quickly to extend a bike lane two blocks south on Fulton Street by the site of a near-fatal crash involving a cyclist and vehicle in February.

In a Berkeley City Council consent calendar item scheduled for Tuesday, March 15, they ask the “City Manager and Transportation staff to prioritize and expedite the installation of a bicycle lane on Fulton Street between Bancroft Way and Channing Way.”

The council item notes that the city needs to conduct a traffic study and public hearing before a new bike lane could be installed.

“This item urges staff to prioritize completion of all steps necessary to install the bike lane by May 12, 2016, Bike to Work Day or as expeditiously as possible thereafter,” according to the brief report. There is a bike lane on Fulton Street north of Bancroft Way but it ends at that intersection.

Advocacy group Bike East Bay has been actively pushing for that extension since last year when the street was repaved, and say city bike planning documents already lay the groundwork for making it happen. They renewed calls for the lane after Megan Schwarzman, a mother, medical doctor and UC Berkeley scientist, was struck by a driver Feb. 2 at Fulton and Bancroft Way and critically injured.  … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley assistant basketball coach fired over claims of sexual harassment

Yann Hufnagel. Photo: CalBears
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See statement from UC Berkeley at foot of story as well as a link to the redacted investigative report. 

On Sunday, the Cal men’s basketball team was celebrating its highest ever NCAA tournament seeding after securing the #4 seed in the southern region tournament. Monday morning brought different news to the program, however, with the firing of assistant coach Yann Hufnagel for violating the university’s sexual harassment policy.

No details were released on the investigation into Hufnagel by the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD). But the swift action stands in contrast to the initial discipline meted out to former law school dean Sujit Choudhry, who resigned last week when a lawsuit made an OPHD investigation public, or astronomy professor Geoff Marcy, who resigned last October after Buzzfeed uncovered details of his OPHD investigation.

Also last week, UC President Janet Napolitano terminated an arrangement whereby former UC Berkeley vice chancellor for research Graham Fleming, who resigned last April following sexual harassment allegations, remained an ambassador for Berkeley’s planned Global Campus in Richmond. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Law dean resigns after sexual harassment suit

Berkeley Law. Photo: Berkeley Law
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Sujit Choudhry resigned his position as dean of Berkeley Law on Thursday, following Tuesday’s filing of a lawsuit seeking damages from both Choudhry and the Regents of the University of California for sexual harassment.

Tyann Sorrell, who had worked as executive assistant to the law school’s dean since June 2012, sued Choudhry and UC for what the suit describes as “near daily” harassment, including hugging and kissing from September 2014 until March 2015, when Sorrell used her own sick and vacation time to go on leave (read the full suit). Choudhry moved from New York University law school to become dean in July 2014, succeeding Christopher Edley.

UC Berkeley Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) had investigated Sorrell’s complaints in 2015. It found that Choudhry had violated the university’s policies. According to Sorrell’s complaint, Choudhry admitted in the OPHD investigation to “hugging, kissing, messaging [sic], and/or caressing Plaintiff at least multiple times per week.”

OPHD passed its findings to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele for a disciplinary decision. On Aug. 14, 2015, Sorrell was informed that Choudhry’s discipline would consist of a one-year 10% reduction in salary and writing a letter of apology to Sorrell (in 2014, Choudhry’s total compensation was $472,917). Sorrell only received the letter when she met Steele on Oct. 27. According to the complaint, Steele told Sorrell “he had seriously considered terminating the Dean but that the reason he had decided not to was because it would ruin the Dean’s career, that is, destroy his future chances for higher appointment.”  … Continue reading »

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Update: Police believe new sexual assault in Berkeley is linked to prior attacks

Image: Google Maps
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Update, 5:30 p.m. The Berkeley Police Department has announced it believes this most recent sexual assault is linked to several sexual assaults around campus in February.

Scroll down for video of the man police believe to be responsible.

According to a statement from BPD on Saturday evening, the victim in this most recent incident was a 21-year-old woman who fought back against her assailant. Unlike the victims in the prior incidents, she was not Asian.

The man was described as Hispanic, in his mid-20s to early 30s, unshaven and wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark pants. Police said that, though this description differed slightly from prior descriptions, they believe the suspect could be the same person.

“We believe that the incident relates to previous assaults in the South Campus area,” police said in Saturday’s statement. “Detectives are seeking the community’s help in identifying the suspect.”

Scroll to the bottom of this story to learn how to contact police. Read more about the prior incidents.

Original story, 2:28 p.m. Police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a UC Berkeley student early Saturday, authorities have announced. The incident took place at 12:09 a.m. in the 2500 block of Etna Street, near Dwight Way.

The female victim, whose age was not released, was “approached from behind by the male suspect who dragged her off of the sidewalk and sexually assaulted her.” Police released no further details about the nature of the attack. … Continue reading »

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