Report: UC Berkeley professor accused of sexually harassing grad student


BERKELEY (KRON) — A UC Berkeley professor is accused of sexually harassing a graduate student, according to a report.

The report states the professor violated the school’s conduct code.

Now, several students in the program are calling on the university to take action.

“Hugs became more frequent hugs. I was touched very frequently without consent and then in Oct. 2013, there was this famous hand on thigh incident in the car,” grad student Eva Hagberg-Fisher said.

Hagberg Fisher, a grad student, said the sexual harassment started off early in her program at UC Berkeley and escalated.

Hagberg-Fisher says it was difficult to speak up. Her professor, Nezar AlSayyad, a renowned architecture professor and Middle-East scholar, was in a powerful position over her, signing off on all of her work, Hagberg-Fisher said.

He was the gatekeeper. Without his permission, she said, she could not advance in the program.

But finally, Hagberg-Fisher says it was just too much.

“We need to stop this culture of silence. This culture of, ‘You know what. We know he’s doing it. But just put your head down and do your work…,'” she said.

She filed a report, and months later, in a report obtained by KRON4, an independent investigator has found that “the professor violated the university’s policy prohibiting sexual harassment and sexual violence.”

Campus sources tell KRON4 academic staff is reviewing the report in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, deciding on what steps may be taken.

University officials did give us this statement:

While we do not comment on individual cases, the university condemns acts of sexual harassment and violence and believes there must be serious consequences when rules and polices are violated.

This latest case comes on the heels of several other claims by students that they were sexually harassed.

Professor AlSayyad did not return our calls for a response but publicly denied any wrongdoing.

For Hagberg-Fisher, she said that she is glad she has spoken up, especially for this reason.

“I know in this case, I’ve heard a lot of women have reached out to me and said, ‘We experienced the same thing. Thank you for coming forward. We were too scared,'” she said.

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