Professors at Reed College cancelled the first lecture of a mandatory first-year course because of interruptions by student protesters.
For a year, members of the student activist group, Reedies Against Racism, have been protesting Humanities 110, "Introduction to Humanities: Greece and the Ancient Mediterranean," for having a syllabus that is too Eurocentric. While their prior protests have consisted of sitting in the course's lecture hall during class and telling students about their various objections before and after the lecture, they have never verbally interrupted the actual lecture.
This changed on Aug. 28 when members of RAR attempted to introduce themselves and their purpose to more than 300 students in the lecture hall. They held up signs that read "Don't teach us White Supremacy" and "We Know Enough about White History."
The four professors leading the lecture decided to cancel class and walk out.
“I’m sorry, this is a classroom space and this is not appropriate,” Elizabeth Drumm, Hum 110 program chair and professor of Spanish and humanities, said to the protestors.
According to a university announcement, Drumm had informed protestors the day before the lecture that she would not give them permission to interrupt the class.
On the second day of lecture, members of RAR arrived in the lecture hall early to introduce themselves and object to the course. Some students and faculty voiced dissent and members of both groups began shouting at one another. The argument ended at 9 a.m., and the lecture began.
The disruptions continued into the third day of lecture when Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, a professor in religion and humanities at Reed, held an improvised lecture outside of the lecture hall so that he wouldn't have to teach beside the protesters.
Lucía Martínez Valdivia, an assistant professor of English and humanities at Reed, was supposed to lecture on the first day of the course. She gave permission to have her intended lecture script published by Reed Magazine.
"Hum 110 perfectly captures the importance of origins and instability to what we do as scholars and students, regardless of the disciplines we pursue," she stated.
Reed Magazine reported that the Hum 110 faculty has been working to restructure the course with students' help and that any agreed-upon changes will be implemented in Fall 2018.
“Students have been very effective in getting their concerns on the table," Drumm said in an interview with Reed Magazine. "We’re working hard to address these concerns — maybe not as fast as everyone would like — but we are making progress.”
Recently, Penn Law School professor Amy Wax published an op-ed entitled “Paying the price for breakdown of the country's bourgeois culture,” and said that Anglo-Protestant cultural norms are superior to those of other cultures in an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian. Her article has sparked a widespread debate at Penn on the topics of inclusion and Eurocentrism.