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East Bay | Education & Student Activism

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."

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by 711
Friday Dec 18th, 2009 11:56 AM
Those UC school conduct hearings are sort of interesting. As a TA/GSI, I worked for one group of professors that held fairness and strict enforcement of ethic rules to be paramount. It was important because with a B- class average for this important pre-med class, students will just rebel or develop grievance the minute they sense that old exams are being shared within sororities or clubs, or whiners are earning points back on their lab quiz without treating the class equally. This class sent people in for conduct demerits for actions like working together on an 'individual' worksheet, where I did feel we might have left things unclear after making them work in pairs for other activities.
In another large introductory class, I was noticing dozens of students answering worksheet questions by copying sentences word-for-word out of the textbook - as though they hadn't been taught the basics of plagiarism, citing sources and so forth. I didn't have any time to think about how to detect where people were copying and pasting from Wikipedia, and I'm glad there was no term paper where someone could pay a third party for a draft paper. The professor had found that the ethics process is a time waster and just told me to write a note when students did stuff like this; a number of them could have gone to high school in other countries where getting the right answer was stressed.

By the way, the $13,000 bail fee is probably a big penalty. Whoever broke the planters did a bad thing, but my understanding is that these 8 people scooped up at the end were the ones who didn't run away by the time the police were there.
by Frisk
Friday Dec 18th, 2009 12:43 PM
These kids obviously weren't involved in the vandalism, but let's not get caught in the old trap of supporting "good" demonstrators and denouncing "bad" ones, k?
by To each their own
Friday Dec 18th, 2009 1:20 PM
I believe in supporting what I believe in and denouncing what I don't. Why would I want to support people whose actions I disagree with, although we may share the same ideology or goals?
by rh
Saturday Dec 19th, 2009 11:08 PM
there is a difference between disagreeing with and condemning something. if you disagree, when pressed about it, you could simply choose to speak for what it is you do stand for, without getting caught or pulled in to condemning actions that, if you were to follow the advice of 'to each their own', you probably wouldn't condemn (simply disagree with). Now, if your intent is to condemn, which is a different bar than just simply disagreeing, then you are falling into a good/bad protester logic that doesn't help anyone if it is the case that we share goals...
by To each their own
Sunday Dec 20th, 2009 11:53 AM
If somebodies actions are, in my mind, so non-constructive and/or destructive that I feel they have set back rather than advanced the common goal that we may share...then I do feel it's appropriate to denounce (or in your words, condemn) the action.

By doing so, I believe that one sends the message that not all who share the ideology have made what I might consider a bad decision/action. And by doing that, my purpose would be to illustrate to those who don't share our ideology that not all of us who do are acting in said inappropriate manner. By doing this, I believe we have a better chance of potentially changing the mindset and opinion of those on the other side.

As a metaphor? The abortion issue. Let's say I'm anti-abortion. (I'm not, but let's pretend). Were I see a small number of radicalized right-to-lifers harassing pregnant women as they enter an abortion clinic, or assault a doctor who performs abortions....I would feel it appropriate to denounce those actions. Partly because I disagree with the action, and partly because I feel that those actions in fact negatively impact our chances of convincing pro-abortion supporters to change their minds and consider joining our viewpoint.