Professor involved in protests to resign humanities center acting director post

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UC Berkeley associate English professor Celeste Langan — who has been presented with criminal charges regarding her involvement in the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protests — will step down as acting director of the campus Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities.

Langan will be replaced in her post by campus Japanese professor Alan Tansman starting July 1 but will still oversee the center’s Discovery Fellows program, according to an announcement released by the campus Tuesday.

In an email, Langan said that she initially intended to serve in her capacity at the center only for the fall semester while Anthony Cascardi, the previous director, was on sabbatical. But when Cascardi was appointed dean of arts and humanities in the campus College of Letters and Sciences, Langan agreed to remain for the rest of the year, she said.

Although Langan has received significant attention since she became director of the center, she insisted that her position was in no way was affected by her arrest and trial and instead she chose not to apply for the job of full-time director.

Langan is one of 13 protesters — and the only professor — who has been charged because of her involvement in the Occupy Cal protests. During the Nov. 9 protest, Langan claims her hair was grabbed and she was forced to the ground by UCPD officers. The district attorney has charged her with resisting arrest, obstructing a public place and remaining at the scene of a riot.

“Ironically, perhaps, I was working on our proposal to the Mellon Foundation on the day I was arrested,” Langan wrote in the email. “But that’s the only connection between my service as Acting Director and my arrest at Occupy Cal.”

The next step in Langan’s court proceedings, her pretrial hearing, will take place Thursday morning at 9 a.m. at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.

Charges filed from the Nov. 9 protests have met considerable condemnation and public outcry. The Berkeley Faculty Association began a petition that has garnered hundreds of signatures that asks for all charges against the protesters to be dropped.

The petition was forwarded to the district attorney’s office by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Vice Chancellor George Breslauer. Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to send a similar letter to campus administrators and the district attorney.