This is actually a national disgrace, as countless members of the US professoriate, freaked out by the terroristic propaganda they’ve been avidly absorbing from the New York Times and NPR, and, therefore, knowing nothing about COVID-19, or the most rational responses to it, are OUTRAGED at the thought of going back to teach in-person, evidently thinking it’s okay for their students to pay that sky-high tuition, and sink into a lifetime of debt peonage, to “learn” via Zoom. They also evidently think that their going AWOL won’t result in their employers going out of business; so this academic cave-in to pure terror is not just grossly unfair to the students, and their families, but ultimately suicidal, too.
That Berkeley in particular is going all-“remote” (a boon to Bill Gates and his plutocratic cohorts in Big Tech) is especially appalling, as that’s where Mario Savio started the Free Speech Movement; and now the Berkeley faculty will be teaching all their classes under full (albeit covert) surveillance, as Zoom is notoriously insecure. As one who teaches courses on propaganda, with students from all over—including China—speaking freely of their experiences of state “persuasion,” I see “online instruction” as a danger to their safety, and an excellent reason for them to clam up. (That’s just one reason why I myself intend to teach for real again this fall, even though I’m 70, and, therefore, statistically more vulnerable than countless younger colleagues who will be spending this next term gratuitously “sheltering in place.”)
As Giorgio Agamben has argued, this academic fealty to the paranoid ideal of “biosecurity” on campus is as flagrant a betrayal of their calling as it was when the Italian professoriate pledged allegiance to Fascism under Mussolini.