UC Berkeley has punished a student journalist who was arrested while filming a 2009 campus protest.
Josh Wolf, who is scheduled to receive his master's degree in journalism Saturday, was ordered to write a five-page essay explaining how the university could better deal with student journalists. A dean must sign off on the punishment before it becomes final.
Wolf was filming student protesters who had occupied Wheeler Hall in November 2009 when he and 45 protesters were arrested on trespassing and other charges. A panel convened by the university later determined UC police had inflamed protesters and botched the response.
Members of a student-conduct panel told Wolf the university is ill-equipped to determine who is a journalist and who is a protester and asked him to help the school come up with a policy. But panelists also found Wolf guilty of trespassing and two other campus charges.
Wolf said Friday he did not understand why he had been assigned the essay as punishment rather than being invited to speak to administrators about the issue.
"It seems like I've been forced to be a consultant for them," he said. "But it's better than not graduating, I suppose."
His work will help the school improve its policies, said Christina Gonzales, the school's associate dean of students.
"People were used to the traditional journalist," she said, citing examples of mainstream newspaper and television reporters. "I think we sometimes forget we're dealing with a different generation. We have to catch up to the times and adapt to the technology."
In 2007, Wolf -- a freelance videographer and blogger -- was released from a federal prison after being held seven months for refusing to turn over to police unaired footage or to testify in front of a grand jury about a violent protest during the 2005 G-8 Summit in San Francisco. Like the Berkeley case, the federal case raised questions about who is and is not a journalist.
Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Contact him at 510-208-6488. Follow him at Twitter.com/MattKrupnick.