More than 300 people flocked to a so-called Trump teach-in at the University of California, Berkeley on Tuesday.
Berkeley is known as the birthplace of free speech, but some students are miffed. They have accused professors of violating the university’s policy about political activity on campus by participating in the event at Sproul Plaza.
“What is to be done about the problem that is Donald J. Trump?” one professor asked the crowd.
Professors talked about issues, including Islamophobia and immigration, while members of the student-run Berkeley College Republicans staged a counter-demonstration that featured signs criticizing Hillary Clinton.
“Our club feels it is a gross misuse of university resources for a professor to use the prestige of their university title to stage this event,” said Claire Chiara of Berkeley College Republicans.
On Oct. 10, university chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent an email to the campus community, reminding them that UC Berkeley’s resources – and that includes employees – should not be used to campaign for or against presidential candidates during work hours.
NBC Bay Area reached out UC Berkeley officials for a response on students’ allegations that professors violated university policy. The response was that they did not, as long as they were on their time and not supposed to be teaching or holding office hours.
But teachers argue that Tuesday’s sit-in was not a political rally. It was designed to shed light on some of the critical issues at stake in the Nov. 8 election.
“I would classify this as a Trump teach-in about the issues surrounding democracy,” said professor Leigh Raiford, who chairs the African-American Studies Department. "People who don't have a platform like undocumented [immigrants] or Muslims or blacks — we need to hear [their] issues."
Student Kayleen Zamudio agreed.
"It was a teach in about Trump but you made your own decision," she said.