Randy J. Barnes, co-chairman of a student group called the Israel Action Committee, said his group doesn't object to the subject matter of the course. "What we objected to was the blatant and arrogant way the instructor handled it, saying opposing views would not be entertained or tolerated."
In a statement released by the university, Robert M. Berdahl, Berkeley's chancellor, said that while universities shouldn't shy away from presenting controversial material, "it is imperative that our classrooms be free of indoctrination – indoctrination is not education. Classrooms must be places in which an open environment prevails and where students are free to express their views."
Janet Adelman, chair of the English department, said Mr. Shingavi would rewrite the course description to ensure open access to the course by students, regardless of their political views, as required by the faculty code. She said she spoke with Mr. Shingavi on Thursday night and that he agreed to take the line about "conservative thinkers" out of the description.
The English department has received a barrage of hate mail, much of which questions why the course is being taught as an English course and why it's being taught at all. "It has a wonderful reading list," she said. "The question of what t he poetics of oppression is seems a perfectly legitimate thing to consider." She also said that an instructor's political views should not be a decisive factor in deciding whether or not he should be allowed to teach.
Ms. Adelman said the course will be monitored in some way, though she has not decided how yet.