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Students demand return of colonial studies professor suspended for stalking


Prof. Yvonne del Valle reportedly confirmed she vandalized another professor’s apartment hallway, door, and car

Students at University of California Berkeley are calling for the reinstatement of a professor suspended by the school for alleged sexual harassment and stalking, whom they argue is herself the victim of abuse.

“We have witnessed the harsh and unfair treatment that our most beloved Latina professor, Dr. Ivonne del Valle, has received at the hands of the administration,” the “Justice4Ivonne” student campaign wrote in an open letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ.

Activists are also reportedly organizing a hunger strike in support of the professor, but The College Fix has not been able to confirm any specifics.

“If UC Berkeley really wants to become a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSIs), it needs to start treating our Latinx professors with respect,” according to the letter, signed by 20 organizations and more than 300 individuals as of Dec. 12. “Professor del Valle [pictured] was the one being harassed, yet your administration engaged in victim-blaming, retaliatory behavior.”

“We demand Dr. del Valle be reinstated immediately,” the letter stated.

UC Berkeley Senior Director of Strategic Communications Janet Gilmore told The Fix that the law and university policy prevent the administration from discussing the specifics of del Valle’s case.

Both the UC Berkeley Senate Faculty committee and the school’s administration handle accusations of misconduct, Gilmore said.

If the Academic Senate’s Privilege and Tenure Committee determines a faculty member like del Valle has engaged in misconduct, the committee will forward a discipline recommendation to Chancellor Carol Christ, Gilmore said. The recommendation could include termination.

Del Valle told The Fix in an email that she has not taught at Berkeley for six semesters and is on a nine-month leave without salary or benefits.

Del Valle was placed on paid medical leave for the spring 2020 semester, was suspended without pay for the fall 2021 semester, and was placed on unpaid leave in November 2022 as discipline after three investigations into her conduct, The Daily Californian reported. UC Berkeley’s provost informed del Valle in January that she would be placed on involuntary leave immediately following the set end of her unpaid leave on Feb. 1.

Del Valle reportedly rejected an 18-month suspension offer.

The Daily Californian reported Nov. 13 that “Del Valle is on paid administrative leave after being found responsible for sexual harassment and stalking in three separate investigations conducted by the [UC Berkeley] Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination.”

“She is currently prohibited from being on campus,” according to the news outlet.

The ordeal began when another University of California professor targeted del Valle, she told The Daily Californian. 

In August 2018, del Valle claimed her electronic devices were hacked by UC Davis Professor Joshua Clover, whom she had met at a conference, the paper reported.

“A forensic analysis on her private devices, conducted by del Valle in June and provided to The Daily Californian, found that her phone had been intercepted and recommended it should not be used again,” according to the paper.

Del Valle went to the police department in Albany, Calif., in 2018 with her suspicions that Clover was stalking her online, starting a chain of communications between her, Berkeley’s Office for Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination, the University of California Police Department, and the UC Davis Police Department.

The Albany Police Department told del Valle they were unable to investigate cyberstalking, the professor told The Fix.

Clover reported del Valle to Berkeley in 2018, but he was also denied an investigation because it was outside Berkeley’s jurisdiction, The Daily Californian reported. Instead, Berkeley reportedly issued a no-contact order to del Valle, prohibiting her from directly or indirectly contacting Clover.

Three investigations by UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination found del Valle had either violated sexual violence and sexual harassment policy or the no-contact order, The Daily Californian reported.

During the investigations, del Valle reportedly confirmed most of her alleged actions against Clover, including leaving him notes at his apartment, emailing him, calling him, and contacting him on Twitter.

She also reportedly confirmed to The Daily Californian that she vandalized Clover’s apartment hallway, door, and car, and wrote, “Is it nice to be the mother of an abusive jerk?” in chalk in front of Clover’s mother’s house.

In 2019, Clover came under fire for making multiple public statements saying he wanted police officers to be killed, The Fix reported at the time.

‘Are you willing to risk students’ lives over this?’ students said in letter demanding del Valle’s reinstatement

In an Oct. 11 letter, students announced a planned hunger strike to convince UC Berkeley to reinstate del Valle, KQED reported.

“In their Oct. 11 letter announcing the plan, students reference Berkeley’s long history of activism, including the 1999 Ethnic Studies Strike,” according to KQED. “That strike led to the Multicultural Community Center and the Center of Race and Gender on campus.”

“We reiterate, how far are you willing to go before you fix an injustice?” according to the letter, which the news outlet did not share. “Are you willing to risk students’ lives over this?”

“I don’t want to speak in hypotheticals,” Gilmore said when asked how UC Berkeley would respond to a hunger strike for del Valle. “Speaking generally, in any protest situation we assess the matter and respond as needed, with safety as the priority.”

Del Valle told The Fix she would not address any specific student action when asked for her view of the hunger strike. “Not that this changes anything, but I was aware of [the hunger strike] when students told me they were organizing, and I accepted it,” she said.

The Fix reached out to the Justice4Ivonne campaign’s Instagram account for details about the planned hunger strike and for comment on del Valle’s reported admission to many of the charges of harassment levied against her.

The account directed The Fix to Berkeley doctoral student Alejandra Decker, who had signed the campaign’s open letter. After she was contacted Dec. 7, Decker said she would not comment on the record and directed The Fix to the campaign’s website and Instagram posts.

The Fix also reached out to several UC Berkeley students who signed the campaign’s open letter on Dec. 11 but received no responses.

MORE: Cal State faculty strike to demand pay raises, benefits

Editors’ Note: This article has been updated to clarify that both the UC Berkeley Senate Faculty committee and the school’s administration handle accusations of faculty misconduct.

IMAGE: UC Berkeley

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About the Author
Matthew Giffin -- Middle Tennessee State University