Koala hearing goes on despite walkout

The UCSD administration refused to present its case against The Koala in a judicial board hearing Wednesday evening after the board denied the administration’s objection to the presence of media at the proceedings.

Chris Padfield
Guardian

University representative Cara A. Silbaugh, assistant dean of student affairs at Eleanor Roosevelt College, motioned to overturn the board’s decision to admit media immediately following the calling of order by presiding judicial board officer Parisa Baharian. The board denied the university’s motion, prompting Silbaugh’s voluntary departure from the proceedings.

Members of campus media organizations such as the California Review, The Koala, the Nightcap, Student Run Television and Warren College Television surrounded the Price Center’s Berkeley Room where the hearing was held.

Silbaugh was not available for comment at press time.

During a 15-minute recess following the university’s withdrawal from the proceedings, The Koala made a decision to present an incomplete version of its defense, where only a handful of The Koala’s witnesses testified and no tangible evidence was presented.

“”No matter what the university wanted to do, we wanted to clear our good name,”” said Robert Forouzandeh, the student advocate general representing The Koala. “”However, we presented a very stripped-down case to protect our strategy.””

Koala Editor in Chief George Liddle, Koala principal member Jeremy Rode and Koala senior staff member Robert Lanuzza were the only witnesses called to testify on behalf of the accused.

The Koala was brought before the judicial board after being accused by the university of violating section 22.14.10.27 of the student conduct code. The university alleges that Koala members’ attendance at a Movimiento Estundiantal Chicana/o de Aztlan meeting on Nov. 19, 2001 was an “”obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or other UCSD or University activities.””

Photographs of MEChA officer Ernesto Martinez were taken at the meeting and used in a Koala issue later that month, as corroborated by The Koala at Thursday’s hearing.

In the hearing’s opening comments, Forouzandeh said that The Koala would provide the judicial board with evidence that the photographer at the MEChA meeting was not affiliated with The Koala, that the photograph of Martinez was not sanctioned by The Koala, and that the MEChA meeting was not disturbed while members of The Koala were in attendance.

SRTV engineer Josh Shupack argued that the media should keep the public informed about matters such as the Koala’s judicial board hearing.

“”Having the media present keeps the legal process accountable,”” Shupack said. “”If the doors are closed, anything can happen without the public knowing about it.””

The judicial board will recomend a resolution to the department of student policy and judicial affairs following its deliberations.

[Note: Parisa Baharian is a senior staff writer for the Guardian.]