UC Berkeley Suspends Professor for Harassment

August 21, 2018

The University of California, Berkeley, suspended a well-known architecture professor for engaging in a "pattern of sexual harassment that created a hostile environment," the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Professor Nezar AlSayyad has been suspended for three years without pay for sexually harassing Eva Hagberg Fisher, a graduate student at UC Berkeley. Two years ago, a campus investigation revealed that AlSayyad spent months endearing himself to Hagberg Fisher before placing his hand on her upper thigh and suggesting they go to Las Vegas. He also isolated her from other faculty members and worked to make her beholden to him as a member of an exam committee that would determine if she was qualified to write a doctoral dissertation. Because of AlSayyad's behavior, Hagberg Fisher changed departments and the course of her career.

AlSayyad has been barred from teaching at the university since 2016, but he continued to receive pay, serve on academic committees and advise students until his recent suspension. The Faculty Senate held a hearing in November and deliberated for four months before recommending a one-year suspension to Carol Christ, UC Berkeley chancellor. After learning that he had also abused his faculty power, Christ tripled the suspension.

Hagberg Fisher told the Chronicle that it was “unconscionable” that it took so long for the university to suspend AlSayyad. A 2016 investigation by the Chronicle revealed past misconduct by AlSayyad, including allegations that he slept with a student and bullied students and junior colleagues who complained about his behavior.

AlSayyad denied engaging in any misconduct with Hagberg Fisher and his other accusers. His lawyer, Dan Siegel, said that AlSayyad is considering legal action to dispute the university's decision.

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