Berkeley Students Insist They Cannot Take Their In-Class Exam Due to Lack of Privilege

(Photo: Carlo Dapino/Dreamstime)
Preparing for and taking tests is literally what school is.

Students at the University of California, Berkeley demanded that they be excused from an in-class exam in their labor-issues class because they aren’t privileged enough to be able to handle it emotionally or something.

The four students, who can be heard protesting in a YouTube video that was obtained by Campus Reform, demanded that they instead be given a “take-home essay with significant time to prepare” — arguing that “well-beings are being put on the line because of the emotional, mental, and physical stress that this university is compounding with what is already going on in [their] everyday lives.”

The students also questioned whether or not the professor, Harley Shaiken, was even qualified to teach a class on American labor issues in the first place — not because of his actual credentials, but because he is white.

“Have you ever checked ‘unlisted’ or ‘undocumented immigrant’? I don’t think so!” one student shouted, with others asking Shaiken to check his privilege.

In terms of qualifications, Campus Reform notes that Shaiken “wrote about and advocated for improved workers’ rights in Mexico, specializes in labor issues, and was presented in 1991 with the Outstanding Teaching Award at the University of California, San Diego.” But none of that matters to these students, apparently — they should just not be expected to have to take an exam in school, and Shaiken just does not have the correct skin tone to be able to tell them otherwise.

In a win for sanity, Shaiken ultimately refused the student protesters’ request and invited them to discuss their concerns with him after class. The protesters, however, did not accept this offer — instead, they went to the Department of Ethnic Studies to complain.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that I am a white person, and that I understand that this means that I do not know what it is like to be not a white person. I do, however, know that school generally involves having to take exams in class. I know that literally anyone who has even the slightest idea of what the word “school” means knows that, and I’d bet my cat’s life that these kids themselves knew it when they decided to enroll.

School generally involves having to take exams in class.

If taking a test is going to cause you insurmountable “emotional, mental, and physical stress,” then you probably should have thought about that when you were making the decision to continue your formal education in the first place. Why? Well, because preparing for and taking tests is literally what school is. Enrolling as a student, but then saying you can’t take a test because test-taking is too triggering, is like accepting a job as a waitress and then saying you can’t take customers’ orders because you’re too shy. The truth is, certain roles have certain requirements — and even the finest of social-justice buzzword salads isn’t going to change that.


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