UC Berkeley students protesting university's sexual harassment policy hold walk out

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- It is the end of the semester for students at UC Berkeley and even though there are just a few weeks left, some of them are moving into a different section with a different professor.

EXCLUSIVE: Woman accusing UC Berkeley professor of harassment speaks out

For the second time this week, Berkeley students are protesting the university's policies when it comes to sexual harassment.

Thursday, graduate students staged a walk out during Professor Nezar Alsayyad's class.

"This isn't for us so much about him in particular," said graduate student Brooke Staton. "It's about the larger policy that is not designed to put people on administrative leave, for example when they're being investigated."

Earlier in the week, students became aware of what had been a confidential Title Nine investigation substantiating sexual harassment claims against Alsayyad when his former advisee Eva Hagberg Fisher broke her silence publicly.

Hagberg Fisher says it happened from 2010 to 2014. She says she reported it to the university in March of 2016.

Four years of escalating isolation, intimidation, as the report showed a hostile work environment, which then turned into sexual harassment.

Students protesting say they want greater transparency.

"We understand where the students are coming from, but when someone's name is associated with allegations of sexual harassment, their reputation is damaged forever even if they're exonerated," said Dan Mogulof, a UC Berkeley spokesperson. "So while there may be limits in terms of what we can say in the midst of an investigation, we have the flexibility to do what we must do to protect our students. And that's exactly what we do."

Following Tuesday's on campus protests, the university gave Alsayyad's students the option of leaving his section for an alternative one with a different instructor.

It's an option Philip Verma and other students say they're taking. "We don't feel comfortable of safe in that classroom with that professor," he said.

RELATED: UC Berkeley students call for professor's suspension

Berkeley has said Alsayyad is not scheduled to teach next semester, though that's not a punishment. A spokesperson says the university can take steps to avoid the possibility of classroom disruptions.
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