As a member of the Berkeley rabble in good standing I can speak with authority, or against it. And in the university’s most recent scandal, the voice of authority I’ll speak against ran in a letter to the Daily Californian, our student newspaper.
“The university was created to exercise the intellect of man, not the emotions of man. As long as my university conducts classes where immature emotions are exercised as ‘academic’ study, I will withhold my support,” wrote Berkeley alumnus Ronald Pavellas.
By immature emotional classes, Ronald Pavellas means those tied to the sex scandal, where one of the student-taught De-Cal courses allegedly involved orgies and field trips to the Garden of Eden, a San Francisco shack of sin.
“The alma mater of my father and I is losing its proper focus and is pandering to those for whom the intellect is foreign territory,” he continued.
First of all, if he meant to sound like a Harvard grad instead of one from Berkeley, he should have written “my father and me.” Besides that, he sounds like a great number of people who simply find themselves outraged by news of the goings-on under the sheets here.
The administration is looking over the entire 20-year-old program of student-run courses, considering tighter supervision and intervention in what used to be the pride and joy of liberal, democratic education.
But let me tell you how the students look at it. We know what constitutes a De-Cal course. We knew before the scandal.
I considered taking a two-unit De-Cal course this semester and asked a friend who teaches one, and who will go unnamed, about it.
“You can come to class every day drunk and high, or both,” he told me. “You’ll still get an A.”
And, if the student instructor doesn’t put on airs of being a professor, that’s the classroom policy in a lot of cases. Those that put on airs find their attendance dropping very fast. It would surprise me to discover someone who takes a De-Cal course with sincere intentions of intellectual pursuit. The courses equal units, free of charge. Intellectual pursuit is reserved for lecture halls and 200-pages-a-night reading assignments in professored classes.
But someone will always bring out a silk handkerchief and rub their glasses and harrumph. They are only kidding themselves, though.
Any night of the week, there are more of my fellow students than can fit inside a classroom, visiting the strip of clubs on Broadway.
Any night of the week, there are more of my fellow students than I can imagine doing the unimaginable.
And any night of the week, there are a great deal of students who stay home and read serious books and make the intellect their domestic territory.
There’s one thing that both sides of this case need to admit to themselves. In all likelihood, they secretly do. It’s the simple fact that there is a time and place for everything.
It’s called Berkeley.
UC Berkeley student