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Update on the fall 2002 course "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance."
21 May 2002

In close consultation with the English Department, the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, and the graduate student instructor of the course, University of California, Berkeley administrators announced the following:

  • The English Department has acknowledged a lapse in oversight of its reading and composition courses. When the course description in question was called to the attention of the department chair, and particularly the final sentence that implied exclusion based on one's political persuasion, the chair and the graduate student instructor removed the sentence. In addition, the graduate student instructor amended the course description to clarify what will be taught and the methodology for achieving the instructional purposes of the course, consistent with the requirements of English 1A.
  • Students in any course have the right to express themselves openly and to have their work evaluated free of discrimination or harassment. In this case, the English Department chair will explicitly advise students enrolled in the class of this right. If students believe that these rights are compromised, they are to contact the department chair immediately. The English Department is committed to guaranteeing students that their evaluations are based solely on their academic performance, not their political viewpoint.
  • Faculty observation and mentoring of graduate student instructors in all departments and instructional programs are important to their training as teachers and to ensuring that the educational goals of the course are met. Because of the controversy aroused by this course and the potential in-class conflict that could ensue, the English Department - to assure fairness to all parties in the class - will assume responsibility for regular observation of the class and mentoring of the instructor.
  • A joint Academic Senate/administrative committee will review the principles and practices of mentoring and overseeing all courses led by graduate student instructors.

BACKGROUND: The course in question is an English 1A class, the first semester of a year-long sequence in reading and composition required of undergraduates at UC Berkeley. A wide variety of such courses are available and spread across 20 academic departments. These courses are taught by lecturers or graduate student instructors. Graduate student instructors act as apprentice teachers and are mentored by Academic Senate faculty.