Michael Mark Cohen
Oct 11, 2016 · 3 min read

In the interests of public education for an educated public, the students and faculty of the University of California at Berkeley will be holding the nation’s first Trump Teach-In.

The event is open to the public and will be held on Tuesday, October 18th starting at noon on the Mario Savio Steps of Sproul Plaza on the campus of UC Berkeley.

This date marks three weeks to day before the most consequential and unprecedented Presidential election in generations. Not only because the nation stands ready to elect the first woman to the nation’s highest office, but because of the rise of Donald J. Trump as the Republican Party’s nominee.

Trump’s campaign has split the Republican party, driven deeper the political divide inside the United States and raised the specter of American fascism. By now it is unmistakable that Trump’s campaign has been fueled by a sharp rise in racism and bigotry, sexism and misogyny, xenophobia and Islamophobia, Alt-right white supremacy and anti-Semitism, exhortations to physical violence, repeated promises to jail his political opponent, and now videotaped evidence of Mr. Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women.

So what is to be done about a problem like Donald J. Trump?

While listing Trump’s faults and insults is easy, understanding what his campaign means, and what is at stake for our democracy, is a far more important and challenging question. The Trump Teach-In aims to address this larger issue directly.

The faculty speakers for the event are organized around six topics: Immigration, Islamophobia, Women & Gender, Whiteness & Masculinity, Law & Order, and Democracy. The following faculty members have already agreed to speak (and more may still be added):

Prof. Leti Volpp from Boalt Law School.
Prof. Hatem Bazian from Ethnic Studies and Near Eastern Studies
Prof. Juana María Rodríguez from Gender & Women’s Studies
Prof. Michael Mark Cohen from American Studies
Prof. Nikki Jones from African American Studies
Sasha Abramsky from the Nation Magazine & Prof. at UC Davis

The purpose of this event is to foster student voter education about the perils posed by Trump and what he represents for our university, our communities and our country. Youth voter turnout is more important this year than ever before. At the same time, this is UC Berkeley’s largest first year class ever, thousands of whom will be voting for the first time. More of these students than ever are from out of state, and many will be voting in their home districts and possibly in battleground states. Too few students are currently taking classes that can discuss the election directly or have professors who are politically engaged and willing to talk about the election in class. So while California may not face a contested presidential outcome, student voter education is nonetheless an all important part of what public education at Berkeley can and should be.

We encourage everyone to come out on October 18th to Sproul Plaza and exercise your rights to free speech, free assembly, and free inquiry. If you cannot come to our event, consider organizing a Trump Teach-In on your home campus. Most importantly, please exercise your right to vote on November 8th.


Michael Mark Cohen, UC Berkeley faculty member
Marandah Field-Elliot, UC Berkeley student and ASUC Senator

Secret History of America

Michael Mark Cohen

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Father, husband & American Studies Professor at UC Berkeley. Fan of Honeybees, Gramsci, Messi, and the One Big Union.

Secret History of America

New Essays in American Studies from UC Berkeley

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