Stressed UC-Berkeley Students Demand Take-Home Tests    

  By: Katie Petrick
   Published : October 10, 2017

It is a rare occasion when college students desire to take an exam. Unfortunately it has become a common occurrence for students to grandstand and verbally attack the administering professors.

Enter the University of California, Berkeley, a university once the bastion of free speech but now is synonymous with student upheaval and outrageous acts. Professor Harley Shaiken had difficulty last week beginning a midterm for The Southern Border, a 100-level course offered through the Ethnic Studies, Education, and Geography Departments.

When students arrived in class for their exams, they were rightly confused to find a protest by a small group of students reading from scripts. The protesters were addressing Shaiken and began making demands for the structure of the class. One student took out a recording device and captured the more than 11-minute escapade. (Audio can be heard throughout, but quality video begins at about the 1:50 mark).

A female protester questions Shaiken’s credentials and qualifications to teach the course. Shaiken, who has been chair of the Center for Latin American Studies at UC Berkeley since 1998, focuses his study on the issues of economic and political integration between the United States and Mexico. In 1991, Shaiken received the Outstanding Teaching Award at the University of California, San Diego.

“Have you ever checked ‘unlisted’ or ‘undocumented immigrant’? I don’t think so!” rhetorically asked the protester. “Have you ever checked ‘student of color’? I don’t think so.”

Yes, Shaiken is white.

The students stated they felt marginalized, and they took turns reciting statistics, including the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. One protester explained that the class was a study of their homeland, Mexico, and the impoverished cities there are not receiving necessary aid or funding to survive.

Then came their demand. The students want a “take-home essay with significant time to prepare” because 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.”

Prof. Shaiken was anything but shaken as he responded to the students.

“I am in demonstrations all the time in Latin America, as recently as the end of August, just before the first day of class,” Shaiken said. “You keep the integrity of the institution you’re a part of.”

He told the students he will address the issues they raised at the beginning of the next class period in fairness to all of the students present. He said he appreciated the use of free speech on the campus and in Latin American countries, at which point, the protesting students laughed.

Shaiken then said he will continue the conversation with the protesters in the hallway so that the remaining students may complete their exams. One protester stayed behind for parting remarks.

“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---ing test, but people are dying out there,” she claimed.

She concluded by accusing her peers of supporting white supremacy.

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