Three weeks into the semester, Berkeley shuts down course on Palestine (2)

Berkeley Bans a Palestine Class


Suspending a course in the middle of a semester is one of the most serious actions a university can take. On Sept. 13, Dean Carla Hesse of the University of California at Berkeley did exactly that to a student-taught DeCal class about Palestine.

DeCal stands for Democratic Education at Cal, an old-fashioned tradition where undergraduate students teach 1 or 2 unit courses, pass/fail, to their peers. The instructors, called facilitators, plan their own courses, which must be approved by a faculty committee and the chair of a department.

In a statement, Paul Hadweh, the student facilitator, declared:

I complied with all policies and procedures required for creating the course. The course was vetted and fully supported by the faculty advisor, the department chair, and the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI).

The university suspended the course without consulting me, the faculty sponsor, the chair of the department, or the Academic Senate’s COCI, which is responsible for approving all UC Berkeley Courses. The university did not contact us to discuss concerns prior to suspending our course.

Universities should never suspend courses in the middle of a semester except under the most dire circumstances, where a course has been proven to violate university policies and cannot be fixed, or some kind of extraordinary fraud has occurred.

Nothing like that exists in this case. In fact, nothing like that has even been alleged by the administration, which relies upon bureaucratic snafus to justify suspending this course.

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Berkeley Suspends Palestine Course

Critics said one-credit, student-led course was anti-Zionist. The university said it acted on procedural grounds.

By Kasia Kovacs

The University of California, Berkeley, suspended a student-run course called Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis Tuesday after members of Jewish and pro-Israel groups complained that the course had an “anti-Israel bias.”

The one-credit course was part of Berkeley’s DeCal program, which allows students to propose and lead classes for their peers. According to the syllabus, the purpose of the course was to “examine key historical events that have taken place in Palestine … through the lens of settler colonialism.”

A statement from Berkeley said, “It has been determined that the facilitator for the course in question did not comply with policies and procedures that govern the review and approval of proposed courses for the DeCal program. As a result, the proposed course did not receive a sufficient degree of scrutiny to ensure that the syllabus met Berkeley’s academic standards. For that reason, approval for the course has been suspended pending completion of the mandated review and approval process. It should also be noted that the dean of the College of Letters and Sciences was very concerned about a course, even a student-run course, that espoused a single political viewpoint and appeared to offer a forum for political organizing rather than the sort of open inquiry and investigation that Berkeley is known for.”

An undergraduate, Paul Hadweh, was planning to run the course; neither Hadweh nor the course’s faculty sponsor, Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in ethnic studies, responded to request for comment.

The university suspended the course because its proposal was never submitted to Dean Carla Hesse of the College of Letters and Sciences, said Dan Mogulof, executive director for communications and public affairs at Berkeley.

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