If you’ve been wondering how UC Berkeley students can possibly miss enough classes to protest as much as they do, and still graduate, you’re not alone. It all makes sense now.
As Free Speech Week approaches, Berkeley faculty has now joined in the cacophony of students bemoaning that other opinions are allowed to exist, and equating disagreement with literal violence. Some of the faculty has penned a letter of protest, aimed at leading a “boycott” of campus activities for the duration of the controversial event. Their demands, however, include that classes be officially cancelled; that buildings be closed and staff be “allowed to stay home”; and that all professors be forced to participate, by granting students leave to skip classes for the week. In this case, “boycott” is clearly a misnomer, as the demands are for official sanction to cancel classes, despite acknowledging that some students – specifically students who went to school to learn, and just want to go to class – will be punished by the cancellations.
The demand specifying that any faculty that opts to will be “allowed to stay home” reeks of the absurdity of Yale’s “symbolic” hunger strike, where students basically “boycotted” food, but only symbolically. They were still “allowed” to go eat.
The screed is one-sided, of course, but it’s interesting to note that, despite references to a half dozen or so incidents of violence, there was no reference anywhere to Antifa, which has been responsible for much of the violence at these protests and events in recent months. Antifa was recently found to be classified as a domestic terrorist organization by U.S. security agencies, which makes it a glaring omission.
The memo does acknowledge that, “as a public institution, we are legally bound by the Constitution to allow all viewpoints on campus,” it immediately goes on to say, to paraphrase, “except these.”
To justify their authority to be arbiters of what speech is acceptable, they’ve declared Free Speech Week something that “disrupts the university’s mission to educate.” If you’ll recall above, they also specifically said earlier that it is their own boycott that will be “a penalty to students who want to learn.”
Scanning through the signatures on the document, one thing becomes very clear: STEM faculty has stuff to do. Virtually every signature was an English or humanities professor of some stripe, who apparently don’t think the courses they teach warrant a full semester. You’ll notice a distinct lack of math or science professors, who don’t have the luxury of skipping Thermodynamics or Differential Equations.