Disturbing Students

“I was shocked,” Joseph, 22, said. “He overstepped his boundaries as a professor. He has his own freedom of speech but he doesn’t have the freedom to send his students his own opinion that is so strong.”

It’s Bill Robinson’s class. Ths course is a sociology course on global issues. He couldn’t have overstepped his boundaries with this case. The Israeli attack on Gaza is a global issue. Robinson would have been acting ideologically to avoid it.

Not only does Robinson have the freedom to send information and opinion concerning this matter, he has an obligation to do so. As for not sending out strong opinion, if the student can’t stomach strong opinion, then maybe the university classroom is not the place for this student.

“I just want to bring awareness,” said junior Tova Hausman, who has joined Joseph in accusing Robinson of violating the school’s faculty code of conduct. “I want people to know that educators shouldn’t be sending out something that is so disturbing.”

What’s disturbing is Israel’s attack on Gaza. Why aren’t those who support Israel’s action prepared to be confronted with the grim reality of it? The role of a university professor is to disturb students, to shake them out of their happy complacent lives, to make them see things they don’t want to see.

I have a lecture on lynching. The images are very disturbing. Of course they are. If you sign up for my course, Freedom and Social Control, you will have to confront disturbing issues.

In anatomy class, people cut into cadavers. That’s disturbing. You have to do it if you want the credit.

It should be known that one of the students who dropped the class and filed the complain is Lia Yaiger. Yaiger is a graduate of Stand With Us. This group trains students in campuses in what they call “response techniques” to alleged “anti-Israel” efforts on campus. Right wing groups used similar tactics to go after Marxist professors in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s an orchestated campaign to stifle academic freedom on college campuses.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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