U. professors cancel class in support of ralley
Although many classes will remain unaffected because of the Walk Out, some professors are choosing to cancel class today in support of their students' decision to protest.
Part-time lecturer Bruce Reynolds of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies said although he does not have a personal opinion on the value of the Walk Out, he still cancelled his Writing and Editing for Print class in order to let anyone participate if they chose to.
"I think [protests] are as much a part of the college experience as anything else, and to deny them access to the Walk Out would be to deny them access to part of their education," he said.
In addition to canceling class, Reynolds gave his students an assignment to write a news story about the Walk Out for extra credit. An assignment, he said, would be a good test of his students' objectivity.
"I don't know whether it's a good story or not, but I want to see if students who are involved and not involved can write the story objectively," he said. "I think there's a strong feeling that you get when you see other students who are engaged [in protests]. If you're not engaged, you can take sides."
Sixty University faculty members, including Associate Professor Indrani Chatterjee of the Department of History signed a petition circulated by the Walk Out Coalition in support of the protest.
"Listening to a veteran's relative, or a vet himself, or other professors and their peers, or simply putting oneself in a situation out of the mundane or ordinary, always constitutes a boundary of an inner sort for a young person," Chatterjee said. "One does not realize its significance in youth, but it appears later as a marking point in their lives. All my students tell me that it also gives them a direct hands-on experience of what democracy, freedom of speech and critical thinking means."
Chatterjee said she plans to hold a partial class and then walk out at 1:23 p.m. with her students.
"I plan to be in the classroom, teach till the time of the Walk Out, and then let those of my students who wish to leave walk out and leave with those who wish to participate."
The Rutgers Walk Out Coalition, an organization made up of 12 student groups, is planning the demonstration.
"The Walk Out is occurring whether rain or shine! Walk out of class, your dorm room, the dining hall, your work, anywhere at 1:23 p.m.," Walk Out coalition member Suzan Sanal said via email correspondence.
Kalyn Higgins, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said she first heard about the Walk Out when coalition volunteers were handing out Walk Out flyers outside of her classroom.
"I actually think that it is amazing how so many people are willing to rally together for this cause," she said. "It really is a big deal, and I hear about it everywhere now."
A banner for the Walk Out, which hung from Brower Commons on the College Avenue campus yesterday, was deliberately torn down, showing the University has strong critics of the Walk Out amid its supporters.
But School of Arts and Sciences first-year student Sopan Shah disagreed, noting that the Walk Out could be viewed as a teaching experience in itself.
"Education can happen outside the classroom," Shah said. "Walk outs don't happen that often, and if students feel they are opposed to the war, they should come. It is our basic First Amendment right as guaranteed by the Constitution. As long as it's a peaceful demonstration, it won't be hurting anybody."