“Well-Beings Are Being Put On The Line”: Berkeley Protesters Interrupt Class To Protest The Midterm Exam As Too Stressful

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 9.13.44 PMUC Berkeley Professor Harley Shaiken  probably did not expect to be denounced as a tool of the racist establishment when he came to class recently.  After all, he was simply giving a midterm exam when protesters appeared to demand that he checked his “privilege” and cancel his exam due to the stress that it was causing for students.  Instead, the students demanded that he assign a “take-home essay with significant time to prepare.”  The scene was truly Felliniesque but whatever humor might be found in the moment was lost by the fact that this is not an isolated occurrence on our campuses, as we have previously discussed.

The protesters insisted that their “well-beings are being put on the line because of the emotional, mental, and physical stress that this university is compounding with what is already going on in [their] everyday lives.”  Shaiken (who is an expert on Latin American studies) balked at the notion that Berkeley was an oppressive environment: “This is a campus that is truly related throughout Latin America to the notion of free speech.”  The effort to dialogue with the protesters only made things worse and one shouted: “Have you ever checked ‘unlisted’ or ‘undocumented immigrant’? I don’t think so!”  The students further objected that Shaiken could not teach workers rights in Mexico as a white man.

Shaiken begins by trying to say that he “admires” their passion, but the protesters quickly cut him off.  He then tried to give his own bona fides as a regular protester and denounced right-wing protesters on campus. He said that he is part of protests on the left all of the time but refuses to let “right-wing demonstrators” shut down the school.  When he mentions the “integrity” of the school, the protesters smirked and dismissed him. Shaiken offered to give them a forum in the Thursday class to discuss this issue (though it is a bit unclear why the other students have to sit through another diatribe on the issue as opposed to setting aside time outside of class).  He then tried to get the students to let the other students complete their exams and speak with him outside.

When other students objected to their disrupting their class they were then attacked and told to shut up and listen: ” Are you trying to silence us right now? Is that what you’re trying to do? . . . you need to listen to us.”

Finally, rather than speak with Shaiken outside of class, the protesters took their complaints to the Department of Ethnic Studies.  However, they remained long enough to denounce the students who waited to take their midterm exams as fostering white supremacy  . . . because they were at Berkeley for an education.  The student insisted “I don’t know why you’re still, like, sitting down, y’all. I don’t understand. I really don’t understand. Y’all can take your fucking test, but people are dying out there.”  She added “you can take your f–king exam but people are dying out there.”

We have seen students openly block speakers and disrupt classes on campuses across the country without any discipline from their schools. I recently discussed how students prevented a Northwestern professor from teaching a class with a visitor from INS — leading only to an expression of disappointment from the university.  I do not view such disruptions as exercises of free speech but the denial of free speech and free thought.  Universities have always protected free speech and fostered debate and dialogue.  Schools like Northwestern are not only undermining academic freedom but free speech in not taking action against students who disrupt classrooms and events on campus.  These students at Berkeley did not hide their faces or identity.  They felt . . .  well  . . .  privileged in disrupting classes.  The response from schools should be clear.  Students should be suspended for such actions and, if particularly egregious or repeated, they should be expelled.  As this video vividly demonstrated, there are students who worked hard to get to Berkeley and want an education.  Shaiken clearly wants to give them an education.  As educators, we do not run our classes by plebiscite or subject to some “heckler’s veto.”  The fact that students at Berkeley and Northwestern feel entitled to disrupt classes is a chilling statement about our priorities as academics.  They are clearly being reinforced in these views by university administrations have fail to protect the sanctity of classrooms and the principle of academic freedom.

As a final note, Shaiken does not actually fit the image of a tool of white supremacy and has been recognized for not just his work but his teaching:

Harley Shaiken looks at the role of schooling and skills in the global economy. He explores issues at the intersection of information technology, work organization, labor, and globalization. In particular, he has examined issues of economic and political integration in the Americas, with a focus on the United States and Mexico. He is currently the recipient of grants from the Ford and Hewlett foundations. Since 1998, he has been chair of the Center for Latin American Studies at UC Berkeley. In 1991 he was presented with the Outstanding Teaching Award at the University of California, San Diego. He has served as an adviser on globalization to key leaders of the United States Congress and to policy makers throughout the Americas. His article, “The New Global Economy: Trade and Production under NAFTA,” was published in the Austrian Journal of Development (2001). He is also the author of several books, including Mexico in the Global Economy (1990); Automation and Global Production (1987); and Work Transformed: Automation and Labor in the Computer Age (1985).

Like the Northwestern professor, Shaiken was extremely supportive of the students despite their disruption and he openly identifies with the causes of the left. That does not matter.  These students repeat terms like “privilege” like some mindless mantra that shuts down any dialogue and dismisses the arguments of the speaker.  Indeed, as previously discussed, some members of groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa have expressly denounced free speech and the liberal democratic model.  Such  views reject the very foundation for learning and higher education on our campuses.  Yet, too many university officials are cowed by these protesters and evade their responsibilities of protecting academic freedom.  The videotape below shows vividly the inevitable result of such academic acquiescence:




111 thoughts on ““Well-Beings Are Being Put On The Line”: Berkeley Protesters Interrupt Class To Protest The Midterm Exam As Too Stressful

  1. What I still can’t understand every time I see one of these videos is, why are the students letting these idiots spew their stupid message? Why aren’t they being shouted down? If I was in that class, I would walk up to the teacher and say, “Can I have my test and take it in another room to get away from these jerks?”. I can only assume by the inaction of the administration, teacher and student body that they welcome this behavior.

    • Jim22 – It appeared from the video the midterm was taking place, students were finishing it and turning it in and leaving as the protester (who arrived late) were ranting. I turned the closed captioning on, but that was not much help, I had a hard time hearing them or understanding them. Him (the teacher/activist) I could both hear and understand.

    • My God, Jim! That would mark them as outside of the hard, extreme Liberal sphere, and hence marked for harassment, poor grades, and general banishment. Are you mad! The professor who querulously begged the protestors to like him and let him give a test might give any student who spoke out a punitive grade. After all, he used is own bona fides as an activist to try to get the protestors to let him give the exam.

      Anyone other than an extremist Liberal who doesn’t want to be discriminated against by their own professors has to keep his head down and stay out of the fray or risk the education he showed up for. What do you think this is? A meritocracy where grades are earned by knowledge and work alone?

  2. Schools aren’t going to do anything because they want those tuition dollars. Nowadays, everyone thinks they deserve to go to college and can succeed as a college-educated professional. No, everyone can’t, regardless of their intelligence and talent. Even very intelligent and talented people don’t always succeed, if t studying and working hard at their education isn’t a priority. Conversely, people of average intelligence and skills can succeed if they prioritize working at their studies. College was always intended to be “higher education”–i.e., not for everyone. If students can’t handle the stress, they don’t belong there, because stress is part of the process, no matter what job someone seeking a college education wants to qualify for. So is competition–competition for grades, and for jobs eventually. However, so long as they qualify for student loans, schools will keep admitting anyone.

    • Schools aren’t going to do anything because they want those tuition dollars.

      Berkeley isn’t hurting for applicants, so that’s not a motive here.

      • Did you say UCLA, (University California Little Asians) or Berkeley?

        America? This dudn’t make any sense.

        UC Berkeley Fall Enrollment Data
        New Freshman Enrollment by Ethnicity

        African American/Black 2.5%
        Mexican American/Chicano 10.1%
        Other Hispanic/Latino 3.4%
        Native American/Alaska Native 0.4%
        Pacific Islander 0.2%
        Chinese 19.4%
        Filipino 3.1%
        Japanese 1.4%
        Korean 4.7%
        Other Asian 1.0%
        South Asian 9.9%
        Vietnamese 2.8%
        White 24.2%
        Decline to State 5.1%
        International 11.9%
        Total 100.0%

  3. What Professor Turley sez: “The response from schools should be clear. Students should be suspended for such actions and, if particularly egregious or repeated, they should be expelled.”

    Consequences and repercussions are needed immediately before this disease spreads to other campuses. Again I ask: where is campus security? Why should the other students (paying customers) have to be subjected to disruption?

  4. While I love seeing the dingbat lefties eating their own–they so richly deserve it–I have to wonder why on earth do the parents of these protesting “students” permit this adolescent acting out? Why do they pay the big bucks for tuition for their darling brats? What motivates them: love or relief over the fact that their brats are no longer at home? I place the responsibility for this insanity at the feet of parents, but also upon the PC school systems which pamper and spoil rather than educate. At some point, the serious students, a rare commodity these days I suspect, will take matters into their own hands and confront these bullying adolescents–and the sooner the better.

  5. (music- to the tune of Glory, Glory Halleluya)

    We call them Berkeley Weenies as the crawl across the hall.
    They are short and dumb and squiggly as the come back from the mall.
    You can see them puking rat turds and watch them fart all day.
    As truth comes marching home.

    Glory glory Berkley Weenies. Sister hit you with a ruler.
    She beemed you with a beem and a rotten tangerine as
    School kept marching on!

  6. These students don’t realize that their protests will now follow them wherever they apply for a job. It is very easy to check these things out on the internet these days. Unfortunately, we don’t realize the unintended consequences of our actions before it is too late.

    On the other hand, maybe they don’t worry about getting a job after they graduate. Maybe they figure the government should give them a guaranteed income for life.

  7. They just better be glad they didn’t attend law school in the 1970’s, No papers, no projects, just one final written exam and that was your course grade. In addition, the first year, the faculty was trying to flunk significant numbers.

    • I can verify that. One final exam at the end of the quarter and that was your grade. I didn’t realize all the stress I was supposed to have had. Thought that was part of law school. 1973 law school graduate.

  8. These students were simply not prepared for the exam because they were too busy screwing around playing as “activists.” So they tried to gain extra time by clouding their lack of preparation in bogus political terms. A large part of being a successful student is time management and learning to set priorities. Let them take the exam as scheduled, and if they don’t do well, hopefully they will learn something from the experience.

  9. Radicalizing students starts early and there’s a movement to bring it into the class room in kindergarten. It’s part of port modernism and cultural Marxism.

    Coincidentally, I received a text this morning asking me to register for The Twin Cities Social Justice Fair.

    I home school my son with a classical western civilization on line academy and I’m considered a “teacher and educator” in the state. It’s unbelievable the socialist propaganda I get. This is just the latest.

    I register and stay on email lists, etc. Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer.

    It’s pretty subversive stuff.

  10. I have to ask, what are they in college for. College is school, right? In school – which presumably they all attended for at least 13 years before arriving at college – they give tests. Tests require effort. Preparation. Committment. To commit one’s self to preparing for a test means one must often not do other things one might want to do. Successful performance on tests leads to positive outcomes.

    Now, let’s take the above and replace a few words to presume these so-called students have (somehow) made it through college with degrees in something worthwhile (most want, but let’s humor the possibility):

    A job requires effort. Preparation. Committment. To commit one’s self to work means one must often not do other things one might want to do. Successful performance at work leads to positive outcomes.

    I’m reminded a few years ago eating at a Denny’s in the 92109 zip code. It was mid-day, and our table was about three away from one populated by SDSU students. They were boorish. Loud. Their speech was profanity-laced despite the presence of children in the dining area. And one of them bragged about how he had consumed two bottles of wine the night before, was supposed to go to a job interview, didn’t want to, and would probably just not show up for the interview at all. Apparently it was very amusing for the SDSU table because they all thought it merited a hearty and approving laugh.

    I have to ask, when all these people are 30 and are actually running things, what is this country going to be like.

  11. Anyone notice the paucity of Asian protestors on campus? There is no lack of Asian students, but they were all brought up to respect education and educators.

    • I agree, Nick, that Asians would generally show more respect for their teachers, But in my experience, Hispanics are generally taught to be respectful as well. The lead female, with her aggressive mannerisms, f-bombs and y’alls, seems more ghetto than Hispanic. Her demeanor is certainly not representative of most Hispanic females that I have known or observed! I suspect she was raised in a mixed ghetto-barrio in Southern California and is a marginal student admitted to a marginal major through affirmative action.

  12. Yes. There is a cancer. Yes. There is rot. When protest is worshipped. It will be used for selfish ends. Instead of being an academic instructor, one becomes ‘customer service’ for student customers. What they are really majoring in is protest. If it works, why would they not continue to use it?

    • Protest isn’t just worshipped, it’s a cottage industry these days. A while back I watched something on TV where these teenage girls, when asked what they wanted to do after high school, said they’d like to continue protesting. More recently, a major soft drink company planned to run ads featuring a Kardashian opening a soda and easing tensions between her side and the police at, you guessed it, a protest. Protest is written into the fabric of sitcoms, dramas, movies, and all the rest. You can go on the Organizing for America website and find paying jobs as a protester.

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