“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:




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

  1. Over-privileged ignoramuses. An education at Berkeley is a ticket to prosperity. Berkeley students who feel threatened because of challenging exams are effectively denying that they are among the privileged few, but just don’t want to work, or can’t. They have far more in common with Donald Trump’s kids than they do with, for example, the majority of young Americans who suffer because Trump and Sessions are attacking the DACA program. These protesters should drop out, work, and return to undergrad programs only after they’ve grown up.

  2. It appears the male prostitute look is “in” on campus (top most image, left most person).

  3. Again, we hear silence from the following leaders of the DNC in regards to news reports like this. Person ally, I interpret their silence to mean they not only approve but that they are the true source of these alleged “protests:”
    Jesus Obama
    Nancy Pelosi
    Chuck Schumer

    This what you get when you make a “Community Organizer”/leading student of Saul Alinsky POTUS. Alinsky’s playbook states that when there is nothing to complain about, when nothing is at stake, make it up. It’s also what you get when you pass laws resulting in college entrance specifying that 3rd world types with D+ to F high school GPA attend college with other students averaging at least two GPA higher.

    HS needs to instruct these 3rd world idiots that waiting on tables, cleaning toilets, and working in coal mines are honorable professions (they are), and teach them how to do it well, instead of telling them anyone can become an astronaut or professor, followed by a free pass into college because their skin is darker than “rasis whitey.”

    You dumb arse progressives who think these reports don’t stick like glue to every god-forsaken Democrat running for office are as dumb as the subjects of this report.

    1. I didn’t know that to be a Democrat, in particular an elected Democratic political official, current or retired or out-of-office, means to continually monitor such situations throughout the day every day, and, when they occur, to immediately drop whatever endeavor is in-process and immediately find an appropriate soapbox from which to berate these students and criticize their poor behavior. Thanks, Shumer? Thank, Pelosi? Thanks, “Jesus” Obama? Really, you “interpret their silence to mean they not only approve but that they are the true source of these alleged ‘protests’”? Really, Obama aspires to Jesus-hood? Are you an impertinent fanatical ideologue, or merely a turd?

  4. Here’s the challenge….we have to be able to teach young people what “free speech” means in practice. They have to learn collaborative problem-solving, including the leadership skills to head a team engaged in cps. They need to assume the role of a referee, presiding officer, or process manager in order to appreciate how to act constructively as an individual contributor. This will teach them the norms of communication and civility necessary to keep problem-solving processes from breaking down into vitriol, defensive crouches, and escapism. We can’t expect youth to incorporate these skills and attitudes by watching cable news channel banter (which is unproductive and geared toward conflict theatrical entertainment).

    1. David Benson – they actually expect you learn things in teacher school these days. I think P.E. is the best place for these kids.

            1. David Benson – depends on the sport or the position. The defensive linemen are the worst, offensive linemen next, OBs best. I tutored athletes to pay for finishing my masters. I had Reggie Jackson in a couple of my classes and he was a real sharp cookie. Loved having him in class, we had great debates. 🙂 Sorry I never had him in grad school.

                1. David Benson – my theory, and it is only a theory, is the more you got hit, the lower your grades. QB we only edited their papers. Linemen, we ran regular group tutoring sessions since they were often taking the same classes. We never saw the kickers. Wide receivers were like QBs. Although it did have its downside. I finally explained to a defensive lineman (potential All-American) that he really was smart, he just was dyslexic. We never heard from him for 6 weeks and fall training was about ready to start. When he showed up, he explained his whole life he had been told he was stupid so he played football because he was built like a bus. He went back home to decide if that was what he wanted to continue to do. He became All-American that year, later All-Pro several times, played in at least one Super Bowl (got outplayed).

              1. Paul you are obviously speaking out of your ASS. You have no idea about sports or football in general as MULTIPLE studies and FACTS have shown on average there is no smarter players on a football field than an offensive lineman here are some pesky little FACTS you may choose to ignore or not :

                Regardless of the position, proof of intelligence plays a profound role in the success of every individual on a team. It’s not enough to have physical ability. Players have to be smart and think quickly to succeed on the field.

                – 53: number of players each NFL team can have on its roster (plus a 5 player practice squad)
                – 32: number of teams in the NFL
                – 1,696: number of players, total in the NFL
                Measuring Intelligence in the NFL

                – WPT: 50 question intelligence test that measures players’ ability to think on their feet, follow directions, and make effective decisions under the pressure of a time clock.
                – 1937: Year the WPT was developed, as a tool to quantify the mental abilities of potential job candidates;
                – 2.5 million: number of applicants in all types of companies that take WPT as part of the hiring process.
                – Early 1970s: first use of WPT in NFL by Dallas Cowboys
                – Fact: For the NFL, years of testing shows that the higher a player scores on the Wonderlic, the more likely he is to be in the starting lineup – for any position.
                Average Wonderlic scores in the NFL (by position):

                – Offensive tackle: 26
                – Center: 25
                – Quarterback: 24 (a quarterback’s intelligence may affect his passing performance in the NFL even if it does not in college)
                – Guard: 23
                – Tight end: 22
                – Safety: 19
                – Linebacker: 19
                – Corner back: 18
                – Wide receiver: 17
                – Fullback: 17
                – Halfback: 16

                Examples of scores from everyday professions show average scores of:

                -Chemist – 31
                -Programmer – 29
                -News writer – 26
                -Sales – 24
                -Bank teller – 22
                -Clerical Worker – 21
                -Security Guard – 17
                -Warehouse – 15

                I KNOW pesky things like FACTS annoy people when the facts dont support their narrative

                1. Chris Combs – I just know who I tutored and who had the most trouble in college with their classes. I really don’t know or care about professional sports, I like college sports. BTW, if these guys are so smart, why are they addicted to painkillers and steroids?

  5. If it’s too stressful then you shouldn’t be there.

    Find a job that won’t stress you out and get into that field. Seriously. I know people who have done just that.

    Now for my snarky side to pop it’s head up;

    Of course, even flipping burgers requires some training which may stress you out. Better just go on the dole, it’ll have the advantage of plenty of free time for you to devote to ANTIFA; which as we all know is an acronym for All Newbies Training In Fascism!

  6. I agree with everything in J. Turley’s article except for the idea that the students should be suspended for doing this. They should be expelled immediately for at least the rest of the current semester, and perhaps more. This behavior is cancerous and must be stopped now before it is too late.

    1. I have to agree. You’re there to learn, and part of that is taking the midterm exam. Kick them out.

  7. Was it a year ago, or longer, that we discussed the reputation of UC Berkley? I had remarked that when I was considering universities, I was advised against UC Berkley because it had a reputation as an activist/agitator school. You had to be hard Left to fit in. I just wanted an education. I do recall the shock and outrage that I would impugn the honor of this very serious, prestigious university.

  8. They were stressful too in the early 60s when I was there…but evidently these kids have never heard of “No pain, no gain.” (who raised these silly kids?)

  9. History of Georgetown

    “Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher learning in the United States. John Carroll’s founding of Georgetown College coincides with the birth of our nation. In 1789, Carroll secured the deed to 60 acres of land on a hilltop overlooking the village of Georgetown. He was appointed Archbishop of Baltimore in 1808.

    Classes began in 1792. Within the first year, attendance grew to more than 40 students, from as far away as the West Indies. In 1817, the school awarded its first two bachelor’s degrees.”

    Becoming Blue and Gray

    “The Civil War (1861-1865) nearly closed Georgetown, as the student body dropped from 313 to 17 between 1859 and 1861. A total of 1,141 students and alumni enlisted in the war, serving in both the Union and Confederate forces.

    After the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) in 1862, several campus buildings were turned into a temporary hospital. To celebrate the end of the Civil War, Georgetown students selected the colors blue (Union) and gray (Confederate) as the school’s official colors in 1876.”

    I know nothing of the history of advanced education. It appears that Georgetown U. started with 40 students rising to 313 by 1861. Today, Georgetown has 12,000 students. Something tells me that profits and union jobs drove this growth, not fundamental “education” of gifted or otherwise deserving, high-value applicants.

    Has anyone assessed the “product” of American private and public universities or have the curricula been modified from enhancing American intellect to artificially educating the ineducable, expanding union teacher roles and wages and monetizing American education?

    Does America really know if all this artificial, politically correct, “advanced education” is truly necessary?

  10. I have to laugh at the absurdity of these students who are obviously living in a bubble where they believe A) they know what they’re doing and B) that they believe they are accomplishing something other than embarrassing themselves. It breaks my heart to see these young people so obviously poorly educated that they reach such sophomoric conclusions about what is or is not a product of racism based upon what amounts to a Groupthink mentality. This kind of thing reminds me of a farcical American version of the infamous Chinese Cultural Revolution except that those participating are not most of the young people in the country and they do not have the kind of power that the advocates of the Cultural Revolution had at their height. These students should be brought before some sort of student judiciary counsel and punished in some way for their inappropriate conduct but beyond that and most importantly they should simply be ignored.

Comments are closed.