Petition Calls For Removal of UC Berkeley Professor in Sexual Harassment Case

Students and faculty at UC Berkeley launched a petition last month to remove a professor after he sexually harassed a graduate student.

Nezar AlSayyad, an architecture professor and renowned Middle East scholar, was found in violation of the faculty code of conduct after an independent investigation in 2016 stemming from allegations he inappropriately touched former doctoral student Eva Hagberg Fisher, as well as repeatedly invited her out for drinks.

UC Berkeley
Nezar AlSayyad

The controversy over the alleged sexual harassment became public when students and advocates staged a protest on campus last November, supporting Fisher's complaint that led to the three-month independent investigation of AlSayyad's behavior.

Petition organizers are adding community pressure on the university to make a decision; they say officials are not moving fast enough on the issue. A faculty committee will be deciding whether to revoke AlSayyad's tenure.

The professor issued a statement to NBC Bay Area insisting he had not violated any code of conduct, and saying the petition inadvertently supports a smear campaign by Fisher.

"What we want to see happen is that the committee of faculty members who actually heard the evidence over a period of three days be given the time and the peace to make their own decision," attorney Dan Siegel said.

Fisher, who is in Canada taking care of her ailing father, said by phone she did not initiate the petition, but she certainly supports it.

"I’m seeking accountability systemwide, not only at UC Berkeley," she said. "I’m seeking accountability at UC university-wide, academia-wide."

Fisher’s lawsuit was settled out of court for $80,000, and while she is still a Ph.D. candidate at Cal, she changed programs.

AlSayyad is not currently teaching on campus but continues to advise students and earns in excess of $200,000 a year, petition organizers told the Daily Californian.

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