"It is not appropriate for an academic class to discourage or exclude anyone from attending on political grounds," Chancellor Robert Berdahl said in an interview with The Daily Californian. "That is very objectionable. The discourse cannot be constrained by the political perspective of an instructor."
But Shingavi denied the statement is meant to exclude anybody, saying that his definition of "conservative thinkers" referred to those that are "limited or narrow in scope."
"Students are en couraged to take my class irrespective of their political convictions," he said, although he declined to comment on what action he would take if a student in his course did not believe in Palestinian sovereignty.
The course will only explore varying pro-Palestinian arguments rather than the debate between Palestinian sovereignty and Israeli occupation, Shingavi said.
"If you can't accept that Palestinians have the right to self-determination, it is impossible to read resistance poetry," Shingavi said. "Instructors should have the right to teach the material that they want and should have control over the discussion."
Critics of the course said its description, along with its reading list, demonstrate that Shingavi intends to limit political debate in favor of the Palestinian cause.
"I think this is yet another example of political indoctrination taking precedence over debates and discussion," said Israel Action Committee President Randy Barnes. "This is just one more reason Cal is the laughing stock of the country."
But Shingavi's supporters said the course would offer precisely what its opponents claim it stifles: academic freedom.
"It's very hard to get the Palestinian narrative point of view anywhere in the country," said Students for Justice in Palestine member Will Youmans. "(The controversy) has nothing to do with the superceded bias of the class. It has to do with the views being presented, which is clearly a form of censorship."
Some students also praised the course for recognizing the academic legitimacy of Palestinian literature.
Sophomore Jessica Heyman, an English major, said the course will offer a "different perspective" in comparison to most English courses that focus on American and European literature.
The English department chair, who could not be reached, will be supervising this course to ensure it fits the Faculty Code of Conduct, particularly the rule of "no discrimination, including harassment against a student on political grounds."
Shingavi maintained his course is an unnecessary target of controversy and said the university does not hold other "controversial" courses, including those "pro-Israeli" to the same level of scrutiny as it has to his course.