UC postpones Wheeler takeover hearings

David Scharfenberg
Thursday October 10, 2002

UC Berkeley lawyers agreed Wednesday to postpone student conduct hearings for 32 pro-Palestinian activists until the Alameda County Superior Court rules on a lawsuit filed by the students against the university. 

The suit, filed Monday, seeks to block the use of UC Berkeley police videos and reports in the hearings, which could yield punishments ranging up to expulsion. Superior Court Judge James Richman has scheduled a hearing on the suit for Oct. 28. 

The 32 students are among 79 activists who took over UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall April 9, demanding that the nine-campus University of California system divest from Israel. 

The Alameda County district attorney dropped criminal charges against the 79 protesters in June, but the university pursued separate student conduct charges against the 41 pupils involved.  

Nine of the 41 students have accepted a “stayed suspension,” essentially a one-semester probation, leaving 32 to face formal hearings. 

Lawyers for the students asked Judge Richman for an initial ruling in their favor Wednesday, but Richman said the issues, according to lawyers on both sides, were too complex for an immediate decision. 

Instead, Richman asked the students and university to come to a mutual agreement on a short-term solution before the Oct. 28 hearing. The university then agreed to hold off on hearings until a ruling is made on the suit. 

One student, Roberto Hernandez, is in the midst of his hearing. No other students have started proceedings yet.