UC Berkeley suspends campus architecture professor over sexual harassment allegations

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Professor Nezar AlSayyad of the campus architecture department has been suspended for three years without pay after he was found to have sexually harassed a campus graduate student nearly two years ago, as first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Eva Hagberg Fisher, a former doctoral student in the campus architecture program and current campus doctoral candidate in visual and narrative culture, filed a complaint with the Title IX office in March 2016 against AlSayyad, alleging that he regularly hugged her, invited her for drinks or dinner and gave unsolicited compliments on her appearance while she was studying under him.

Hagberg Fisher said she learned of AlSayyad’s suspension Aug. 13 and felt “very disoriented” by the news.

“It took me a while to process — I couldn’t really figure out what this meant,” Hagberg Fisher said. “Then, over the last couple of days, I realized that this message has sent and the impact that a three-year suspension without pay actually has. And I feel glad that I stepped up and said something.”

While suspended, AlSayyad cannot teach or supervise new graduate students, and will have no access to campus property except that which is generally available to the public, according to a statement provided by campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

“The harassment of students by faculty carries the potential for enormous harm,” Chancellor Carol Christ said in a statement. “It is wholly unacceptable and we will not tolerate such behavior on this campus.”

The campus has “intensified and reformed its response to sexual misconduct,” according to the statement, and has enhanced support and services offered to survivors. Hagberg Fisher said she hopes the campus thinks “very, very, very carefully” about how it treats survivors.

“It is mind-boggling to me that it took this long,” Hagberg Fisher said. “There’s got to be some piece of information that I don’t have access to that explains this, because the alternative is that the university did not prioritize this.”

Anjali Shrivastava is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anjalii_shrivas.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article may have implied that Eva Hagberg Fisher is no longer a student at UC Berkeley. In fact, she is a current doctoral candidate in visual and narrative culture, and a former doctoral candidate in architecture.