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Cal student who was arrested outside chancellor's house can return to school
by Josh Wolf ( hi [at] joshwolf.net )
Friday Dec 18th, 2009 11:06 AM
A UC Berkeley student who was arrested outside the chancellor's house on Dec. 10 can return to campus and finish his finals following a student conduct hearing on Thursday.
A UC Berkeley student who was arrested outside the chancellor's house on Dec. 10 can return to campus and finish his finals following a student conduct hearing on Thursday.

Police arrested Zach Bowin, 21, along with seven others, during a night-time march in which some protesters damaged property outside of Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's house on campus. Protesters shattered lamps, upturned planters and damaged two windows outside the chancellor's home before the police arrived and the crowd scattered into the night around 11:30 p.m., according to police.

The eight people arrested were taken to Santa Rita jail and held on $132,000 bail. While Bowin and two others posted bail, the district attorney decided not to press charges at this time and all of those who were arrested have since been released.

A crowd of about 100 students, faculty and staff gathered outside the student conduct building on the 2500 block of Channing Way Thursday afternoon to support Bowin at his hearing.

"He wants to finish his final exams," Steve Rosenbaum, a Berkeley Law lecturer and Bowin's advisor during the hearing, told the crowd. "He's got a paper due tomorrow. All of this could have been avoided with informal negotiations."

The hearing's administrator allowed Bowin to bring a legal advocate and one family member into the hearing, according to Rosenbaum. During the hearing, which lasted more than two hours, Bowin's father and brother stood outside while his mom joined him inside.

At one point the officials told Rosenbaum to leave the hearing because he was being "disruptive."

"It is a secret tribunal. I can't believe the greatest public university in the world in the year 2009 — we're almost 2010 — conducts procedures this way," said Rosenbaum, who helped revise the student conduct code 30 years ago, "I tried to figure out what it means, you can't because they make up the rules as they go along. The sole evidence is a press report that he's going to be a threat to the campus,"

About 40 minutes after Rosenbaum addressed the crowd, Bowin and his mother left the student conduct office. His mother quickly flashed a thumbs-up before joining the rest of her family and Rosenbaum to huddle about the hearing's outcome.

"The suspension was, I'd say 99 percent lifted," said Rosenbaum after meeting with Bowin. "I think at the end of the day basically it was a victory. Zach maintained his status as he should."

Ronald Cruz, an organizer with By Any Means Necessary, asked the panelists to identify themselves as they left the building, but his attempts were rebuffed. A woman believed to be the student representative on the panel told him her identity is confidential.

"I'm glad to be able to contact people," said Bowin, who had previously been under a gag-order that prohibited from talking to anyone associated with the university, including its students. "It's not something someone would really say, but I'm happy to get back to my studies."