News and Commentary

Berkeley Students Protest Exam, Demand ‘Take Home Essay’ Because White Privilege And Stuff

A video has surfaced on YouTube showing students at the University of California, Berkeley protesting an exam, and demanding a “take-home essay with significant time to prepare.” The reason? “Our well-beings are being put on the line because of our emotional, mental, and physical stress that [Berkeley] is compounding with what is already going on in our every day lives,” according to one of the students in the video.

“The content of this class and the way it is being taught is not satisfactory. And even if it is … we feel that we haven’t had the opportunity to interact with the text and information. We demand that you make and [hold space] to [study] the voices of students of color,” one protester stated.

After nearly four minutes of non-stop speaking, one student asked if this was “a filibuster.” A female protester was outraged by his sarcasm:

You listen! You have to listen, okay? Listen to us, okay? You talk so much already, okay?… Are you trying to silence us right now? Is that what you’re trying to do?

The student responded: “I’m trying to take my test.” Another protester snapped back: “We’re trying to live our lives … white boy with privilege.”

When the protesters finally allowed Professor Harley Shaiken to speak, he only eked out about one sentence before he was interrupted:

On a campus like the University of California, Berkeley, I am not about to let 50 right-wing demonstrators —

“There’s not 50, there was over 200. In [an] email, it said over 200 people,” one of the protesters interjected.

Professor Shaiken continued:

Let’s say it’s 200. To allow 200 right-wing demonstrators [to] shut down a university — I am in demonstrations all the time in Latin America — as recently as the end of August, just before the first day of class. You keep the integrity of the institution you are a part of. For 50 people or 200 people or 1,000 people to be able to shut this enterprise down I think is deeply flawed.

A female protester wearing a striped dress countered:

That’s not the point of the matter. We are talking about communities of color. You have people in our homelands who are experiencing devastation … students that are undocumented … how can you [inaudible] to prepare for this exam with all this going on?

Unshaken, the professor continued, and proceeded to bring the heat:

I’m not going to get into a debate about all these issues right now. I be pleased to address them at the beginning of class on Thursday. In fairness to everyone who’s here — and I deeply appreciate all of you being here — because it is something for a campus to be able to stand up by conducting its activities.

This is a campus that is truly related throughout Latin America to the notion of free speech. Student demonstrations in Chile; student demonstrations in Mexico, in Guatemala. Yesterday, there were enormous demonstrations in Guatemala to have the president impeached and imprisoned. Anyone who marched in those was truly risking their lives.

At the University of San Carlos, which we are in touch with, they held classes, they gave exams. You may disagree with it — and I respect your opinion for disagreeing with it; I respect you getting up here and stating your disagreements — but with that, we are going to go ahead with the exam, not despite the demonstrations, but to show that all of us, as part of a community, are capable of doing what a university does absent that kind of interference. Otherwise, anytime 25, 50, or 1,000 people want to stop this dead, it becomes their possibility, and we’ve demonstrated that that’s what will happen.

Shaiken’s words fell on deaf ears, as one protester smugly stated: “Understand your privilege.”

The students told Shaiken that they were going to take their complaints to the Department of Ethnic Studies, to which the professor responded: “You are more than welcome to do that.”

Just as the group was leaving, one stayed behind to tell off the rest of the class:

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 f**king test, but people are dying out there. … Y’all can take your test, but this [university is] protecting white supremacists, and y’all are protecting them, too.

Kudos to Shaiken for standing his ground. The Daily Wire has reached out to the professor for comment, but as of this publication, he has yet to respond.

You can watch the video in its entirety here: