UCSD professor reportedly being investigated for virtual sit-in

An investigation was under way this week into whether a tenured UCSD professor committed a crime when he staged a virtual sit-in that disrupted the UC system president’s Web site.

Self-described activist and new media artist Ricardo Dominguez, 50, was questioned by university police last week about the March 4 virtual sit-in he organized in protest of the UC system’s financial management, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

He told the newspaper that university officials have accused him of launching a “denial of service” attack, in which a hacker takes over a Web site and shuts it down. University officials said the case is a private personnel matter.

During the event, about 400 students, faculty and staff triggered a reloading of the UC system president’s Web site by registering for the sit-in using a computer program that Dominguez helped create. The program also prompted a series of messages to appear, including “There is no transparency found at the UC Office of the President.”

Dominguez — who was hired in 2005 and granted tenure in 2009 — was also under fire from three local Republican congressman for using taxpayer money to develop programs that aid illegal immigrants, the Union-Tribune reported.

Dominguez recently unveiled the Transborder Immigrant Tool, a project still under development that gives migrants GPS-enabled cell phones that informs them about water jug locations and U.S. Border Patrol lookouts.

Reps. Duncan Hunter of Alpine, Brian Bilbray of Carlsbad and Darrell Issa of Vista have all written to UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, hoping to halt the project.