Just a few days after announcing it will not press charges against those arrested in a Dec. 11 protest, UC Berkeley will hold a hearing today to consider punishment against two students who allegedly attacked the house of Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on December 11.
The hearing will start at 3:00 pm on the Clark Kerr campus. It is open to the public.
The university is still pursuing suspension and other student conduct charges against another 54 students who were arrested in connection with occupying Wheeler Hall and other buildings in the last week of November, according to Josh Wolf, a student at the journalism school who is facing punishment. He said the reason the university is not charging those arrested on Dec. 11 is because the situation surrounding the arrests was murky. Police came into the building in the middle of the night and ordered everyone to disperse. Since some people were asleep, they did not hear the order, said Wolf.
Wolf was arrested in late November for trespassing in Wheeler Hall. As a first year journalism student, he has argued that he was in the hall in a journalistic capacity. The university disregarded that explanation and threatened to suspend him for seven months.
After Neil Henry, the dean of the journalism school, sent university officials a strongly-worded letter, officials agreed to recognize that Wolf was acting as a reporter, he said. Officials dropped the disturbing the peace charges, but Wolf still faces other disciplinary charges. If Wolf pleads guilty, he will only get a warning, he said. His hearing, and that of other students, is scheduled for May 24.
“The problem with taking a warning is that it will establish the policy that reporters can’t freely cover what goes on on campus,” said Wolf.
The Office of Student Conduct, the body that proposed suspensions of protesting students, has been criticized for its tactics and is now going to implement a series of changes, according to the Daily Californian.
The hearing today will consider whether Zachary Bowin, 21, Angela Miller, 20, and UC Davis student Laura Thatcher, violated the student code of conduct when they allegedly broke planters and threw torches at police during a protest outside the campus home of Birgeneau.
UPDATE: The hearing was canceled, according to a UC Berkeley media news spokesman. The university, Miller, and Thatcher have agreed to an informal resolution of the problem that does not involve any suspension. Charges against Bowin have also been dropped. Berkeleyside incorrectly named him as one of the two students facing charges.
The New York Times has more information on the situation.