UC Berkeley students attempted to shut down their midterm exam, with claims that it would have a negative impact on their physical and mental health. The students, who were captured on video, demanded a “take-home essay with significant time to prepare” and accused their uncooperative professor of not checking his privilege.
“This is a campus that is truly related throughout Latin America to the notion of free speech, said professor Harley Shaiken to the class, eliciting laughter and derision from the protesters.
Dismissive of the professor, the activists claimed 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.”
One protester shouted: “Have you ever checked ‘unlisted’ or ‘undocumented immigrant’? I don’t think so!”
Shaiken, who has written about workers’ rights in Mexico, is an expert in labor issues and earned the Outstanding Teaching Award at the University of California, San Diego in 1991. Despite his expertise in the subject, the students called him unfit to lecture them on the subject because he is white.
“Are you trying to silence us right now? Is that what you’re trying to do?” said a protester responding to a student who jokingly asked if it was a filibuster.
The professor offered to leave the classroom and hold a discussion with the protesters outside to prevent further disruption of the exam, but they refused. Instead, they took their complaints to the Department of Ethnic Studies.
“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,” complained one protester, who remained behind to accuse her peers of not participating in their protest. She accused her fellow students of supporting white supremacy.