UC Berkeley faculty members call for boycott of classes during ‘Free Speech Week’

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Update 09/14/17: This article has been updated to reflect additional signatures to the letter calling for a boycott.

In a letter addressed to the UC Berkeley campus and the Berkeley community, 132 campus faculty members from various departments have called for a complete boycott of classes and campus activities during “Free Speech Week,” which will be held on campus from Sept. 24-27.

The letter was co-written by seven faculty members, including campus associate teaching professor of African American studies Michael Cohen. It calls upon faculty to take three steps: cancel classes and tell students to stay home; close buildings and departments and allow staff to stay home; and not penalize students who are afraid of coming to campus. The letter was also signed by 56 individuals who aren’t part of the UC Berkeley faculty.

“This is a clear threat to public higher education,” Cohen said. “People are coming to humiliate others and incite violence. … The boycott is a refusal to allow this to happen on our campus.”

According to Cohen, most of the students in his African American Studies 27AC class are students of color. Cohen said he believed that for him to ask his students to be on campus during Free Speech Week was unethical and discriminatory.

Free Speech Week is being hosted by the Berkeley Patriot, a conservative student newspaper. The four-day event includes themes such as “Feminism Awareness Day” and “Mario Savio is Dead.” Speakers scheduled to be on campus include Milo Yiannopoulos and Steve Bannon.

“We’re not afraid of Milo, Ann (Coulter) or Bannon’s words. We have a deep anxiety over the violence that their followers bring in response,” Cohen said. “Chancellor Christ’s idea that we can have these people on campus is a fantasy and a dangerous one.”

Check back for updates.


Contact Audrey McNamara and Harini Shyamsundar at [email protected].

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  • PriviLegend

    “It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’d damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person.”
    – Bill Murray

  • Edward Devotion

    This is a lift from The Onion, yes?

  • Michael Gessner

    Opposition to free speech makes you a BIGOT.

  • Michael Gessner

    It is sad that these stalinoids-maoists who despise free speech are not called on their outright fascism. They hate free speech so much it is sickening.
    I’ll call it – ALL YOU F*ing BIGOTS (ie progressives) go ahead, crawl under your rock and hide. Cover your eyes and ears. Maybe someday you’ll have your Venezuelan Maduro-style dreamland.

  • Jacob

    “We refuse to grant the Alt-Right the media spectacle that they so desperately desire.”

    Up is down. Black is white. Right is wrong.

  • David Stephenson

    What an embarrassment for the home of free speech to be calling for the death of free speech.

    The creators and signers of this “letter” have obviously never listened to Milo, Bannon, Coulter, Horowitz or Geller. These speakers actually have very well formed ideas and arguments. If you disagree with them, put forth a challenging argument in response. Shutting down their speech is straight out 1984 Orwell, USSR Stalin and Communist China Mao.

    The violence at any and every event the left disagrees with is consistently perpetrated by the street thugs of the left – antifa, black bloc, blm, byanymeansnecessary, etc. These violent leftist thugs are only interested in turning our wonderful American republic into a uni-party group-think nightmare.

  • Terrence Jeffrey Johnson

    Whatever happened to “Sticks and stones can break my bones but WORDS can never hurt me”?

  • Debra Blouin

    These professors and doctoral students are the most cowardly, ridiculous, whiny, self-important narcissists on that campus.

  • garyfouse

    By all means, stay home forever and never return to campus. You’re not getting an education anyways.

  • YehoshuaFriedman

    This point should be obvious, but did you notice that among the signatories there is NOT ONE faculty member in the exact sciences. The people who don’t make their living off stuff you can fudge till the cows come home are not on board!

  • cadcam

    Ha, ha…all of the departments of the signatories are the ones where students can’t get jobs.

    • lspanker

      Their programs only exist because the diversity admits who populate them couldn’t make it through the first semester of any STEM-related discipline…

  • Nina

    This is a classic own goal. By cancelling their classes to retreat into safe spaces, the professors are admitting their courses aren’t that important. If you are packing lots of learning into every class session, you will not want the students to miss any one of them. But if your students aren’t learning much to begin with, then why not let everybody take the whole week off? smh

  • As I argued in a column I penned earlier this year, the term “professor” is officially nothing more than another synonym for moron:

    [In a matter of decades, left-wing professors have transformed college campuses into literal playpens for the nation’s multitudes of pampered and trigger-prone millennial snowflakes.

    And in doing so, they have subverted years of actual progress and effectively ruined college education, leaving college kids so devoid of reason that they can’t even handle chalk. Yes, CHALK!

    It’s insane, but it’s also why when a liberal professor flashes his fancy degree at me, I tend to roll my eyes. Because I know that his status as a “liberal professor” makes him nothing more than a moron, as well as a culprit in the destruction of education in America.]

    And oh, I’m a conservative minority, aka an “Uncle Tom” (as leftists call me).