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Being One of Said's Students: An Observation

Reader comment on item: Redeeming the Wayward University [through Engagement by Outsiders]
in response to reader comment: Redeeming the wayward Univesity : an observation

Submitted by Law Student (United States), Nov 7, 2007 at 12:57

I am currently in Wadie Said's Criminal Law class, and I'd like to say something in support of him.

Everyone was worried about USC hiring him as a professor this year because they were worried he was going to incite the student body and his students to think a certain way. I've been in his class now for three months, and he has not said ANYTHING remotely political to us. In fact, he stays firmly neutral on all of the issues we are discussing in class (which includes, from time to time, terrorism, murder and what differentiates the two).

He asks us questions about the materials we were assigned to read from our casebook; he leads discussions about the cases; and he is always polite and often funny. I did not even know about Professor Said's past until some fellow students and I were randomly googling each of our teachers' names in between classes. Professor Said does not seem as if he is trying to promote any political agenda at the law school. On the contrary, he is mild-mannered and sort of quiet, and he does not bring up much, if anything about his past. He has never mentioned his father, his political views or his background before joining the faculty at USC. In fact, the only thing I actually knew about Professor Said before googling him was that he had lived in California at some point in his life prior to August 2007, and he had worked as a defense attorney on a terrorism case. That's it. The terrorism case he worked on was actually in our textbook, and we discussed it today in class. He did not mention that it was the same terrorism case he had worked on--I found that out later. In fact, he went so far as to say, "I worked on a case LIKE this one, and such-and-such happened..." To me, if he had a political agenda that he wanted to force on us, he would have had plenty of opportunities to do so.

I think it's ridiculous that people criticize him for what he "might" do, rather than look at what he is currently doing in his classroom. I don't think that he should be punished or harassed for any personal beliefs he might have as long as they do not interfere with his teaching. He may have his faults as a professor, but forcing his own personal beliefs on his students is not one of them.

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