Administration retries Koala

    The campus judicial board convened yesterday to hear the UCSD administration’s second attempt to prosecute The Koala for aalegedly disturbing a Movmiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan meeting Nov. 19, 2001. The hearing follows the administration’s nullification of earlier proceedings held May 22.

    Tyler Huff
    Guardian

    Prior to the meeting, members of the Guardian and the Nightcap presented their objections to the hearing being closed, but ultimately left after their motions went on the record, allowing the hearing to proceed.

    Before the hearing, the Koala defense was optimistic about its chances of being found not responsible in front of the board. Robert Forouzandeh, the student advocate general for The Koala, called the university’s case “”weak”” and referred to the charges as a “”complete fabrication.””

    “”I expect that we will be found innocent of all charges when the whole case is presented and the evidence is out there,”” Forouzandeh said.

    According to Forouzandeh, the Koala’s evidence indicated that the photographer, who allegedly disrupted MEChA officer Ernesto Martinez while he spoke at an organization meeting, is not a member of the humor publication and was not asked to attend or take photographs by any of the principal members.

    The university did not call any witnesses, but instead submitted written testimony, according to members of the Koala who were inside the hearing.

    The university’s case was presented by Cara A. Silbaugh, who declined to comment on the proceedings because of UCSD policies.

    According to Forouzandeh, the university’s witness statements maintained that the Koala photographer caused a disruption of the meeting because of the aggressive manner in which the photos were taken. To counter this, the defense presented the actual photographs, claiming that they show no disruption to Martinez.

    “”We completely discredited all of their witnesses. They had no proof,”” Forouzandeh said. “”Everything else was completely circumstantial.””

    After the hearing, Koala principal member Jeremy Rode was confident that the university did not meet its burden of proof.

    “”The only thing they proved was that we showed up and took a picture,”” Rode said.

    The board has 10 academic days to submit its decision, which requires a majority vote of the six-person student board. Once a decision is made, presiding officer Parisa Baharian will submit the report to interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gary Ratcliff.

    Ratcliff then has five academic days to either accept the report and impose a punishment or return it back to the chairperson for reconsideration and/or clarification.

    Despite the optimism of his staff, Koala Editor in Chief George Liddle is not convinced the ordeal is over because of what he sees as ever-changing rules.

    “”Who knows if it’s over,”” Liddle said. “”Obviously, they are making it up as they are going along, and once you decide you are not playing within the rules, all sorts of things become possible.””

    Earlier in the day, The Koala’s attempt to obtain a court-ordered injunction to stop the hearing was rejected by a Superior Court judge because there has not been an outcome in the university’s case against The Koala yet, according to Forouzandeh.

    “”They said that once the university takes action that we can proceed [with legal action],”” Forouzandeh said.

    The Koala was able to hire a lawyer after it sponsored a blood plasma drive to raise funds.

    “”We sold our blood,”” said Koala staff member Jonathon Severida. “”I’d like to see another student organization do that.””

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

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