UC Berkeley Professor Accused of Sexual Harassment - NBC Bay Area
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UC Berkeley Professor Accused of Sexual Harassment

Investigation finds decorated professor in violation of university policy after grad student's allegations

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    A UC Berkeley professor has been found in violation of the university's sexual harassment policy after a graduate student came forward and accused him of making sexual advancements over a four-year period. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016)

    A UC Berkeley professor has been found in violation of the university's sexual harassment policy after a graduate student came forward and accused him of making sexual advancements over a four-year period.

    The student, Ph.D. candidate Eva Hagberg Fisher, 34, said Architecture Professor Nezar AlSayyad touched her inappropriately, made himself out to be a protector and repeatedly asked her out.

    One troubling incident stood out to Hagberg Fisher.

    "He hugged me in the hallway and said, 'I hope you feel as good as you look,' which was five minutes before the most important exam of my professional career," she recalled. "It was distressing and troubling.

    "In the summer of 2013 began the physical escalation," Hagberg Fisher continued, "asking me to come out with him for dinner, asking if he could take me for drinks, telling me he loved me."

    Last week, an independent investigator concluded AlSayyad, 61, violated the university's sexual harrassment policy.

    On Tuesday, students protested outside the School of Architecture, calling on UC Berkeley officials to take swift action. Campus officials have barred AlSayyad from teaching next semester, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. The newspaper also reported there were two other complaints of sexual misconduct against the professor in the 1990s.

    "We feel strongly this is not a safe place right now, with him continuing to be in the classroom," student protester Justine Marcus said. "He should be removed immediately."

    Dozens of students have signed and sent a petition to UC leaders demanding the professor's dismissal. Several students have refused to attend his classes, requesting alternative ways to finish the semester's work, according to SFGate.

    But AlSayyad's attorney, Dan Siegel, has urged students not to jump to conclusions until a hearing takes place. He said the professor has done nothing wrong and Hagberg Fisher never indicated AlSayyad's conduct or behavior was in any way uncomfortable or unpleasant.

    But Hagberg Fisher said she was humiliated, and she felt strongly that any victim of sexual harassment should not have to endure what she went through.

    "I don't want any student in any university to feel she can't come forward," she said. "I don't want any student to feel if this happens to her she has to stay silent. That's why I'm coming forward with my name, with my face, with my body."

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