A visiting political science professor told her Arab-Israeli Conflict class Tuesday she plans to resign from teaching the course for the remainder of the semester, according to students in the class.
Chris Deering, chair of the political science department, would not confirm if Hanna Diskin, a visiting professor from Hebrew University in Tel Aviv, Israel, will be leaving the University. In an e-mail to The Hatchet, he wrote that the course will “continue as scheduled,” but did not say who will be teaching the class.
Senior Liz Kamens, a student in the Arab-Israeli Conflict course, contacted her political science adviser, Susan Wiley, immediately after Tuesday’s class. Wiley told Kamens, also a Hatchet staff writer, that she or Bernard Reich would teach the class.
Students in the class said they were shocked when Diskin made her announcement, said senior Gregory Berlin, another of Diskin’s students.
“At that point the entire class had jaws on the floor and really couldn’t believe what was going on,” Berlin said. “People were very, very angry.”
Diskin told the class she was upset because students had addressed complaints about her teaching style to the political science department without speaking to her directly, Berlin said. Diskin also said her Arab-Israeli Conflict class next semester has been put on hold until course evaluations are assessed at the end of this term, Berlin said.
Berlin and other students in the class said they were concerned that Diskin taught the class with a bias toward Israel. He said the main textbook in the class focuses on the history of Israel, with no counterpart book about Arab states.
“We would learn about so much about Israel and specific institutions, but we learned very little about the other states, the Arab states, the Palestinian people . it has to be especially at GW,” said Berlin, who is Jewish. “People here are not going to sit down and let professors just tell them how things are if kids think it’s another way. Eventually kids just stood up to her.”
Berlin said he and a number of students in the class met with members of the political science department about Diskin’s teaching style.
Kamens said she did not have a problem with the class.
“I sensed a bias; however, I knew that there was ample opportunity to leave the class, and I chose to stay in the class,” Kamens said. “I think with any class there is a certain bias that the professor goes in to it with, whether it’s another political science class or a history class or an English class, though I think in this instance the topic of the class is very sensitive.”
She and Berlin both said they are concerned about how the political science department will deal with the continuation of the class.
“As a senior graduating in May I am definitely concerned about whether or not a new professor will come in and how their grading patterns will affect the class,” Kamens said. “We already missed one class period on Tuesday and we were behind anyway.”