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Targum investigates Holloway's claims of exam disruption during strike

University President Jonathan Holloway said that demonstrators interrupted an exam being administered during last week's faculty strike.  – Photo by

On the first day of the University's faculty strike last week, University President Jonathan Holloway sent a University-wide email in which he mentioned an incident where picketers supposedly disrupted a classroom while an exam was in session.

Sohan Saha, a senior in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and a picketer during the strike, said Holloway's statements were relatively accurate, except that he falsely insinuated the demonstration interfered with an ongoing exam.

"My initial reaction to the email was excitement. It was interesting to be singled out by the president of the University," Saha said. "I think it was great for the strike that he did that. It showed (how) far we were willing to go and how committed we were to the cause."

With respect to the specific incident, Saha said that demonstrators initially intended to quietly picket during an exam in a Digital Electronics class on Busch campus. The demonstrators actually entered the classroom before the exam began, he said.

"We were initially met with cheers and applause from the students, who agreed with our cause and did not want to take the exam," Saha said. "(But) the moment the professor walked in, they all went silent."

He said the demonstrators attempted to inform the professor, a first-year adjunct faculty member, about issues with pay inequity. She ultimately allowed students to leave the exam session without any academic penalties. At that time, approximately 15 students joined the demonstrators.

After the incident, the picketers performed other types of demonstrations, such as rallying outside the Holloway's private residence and in Trenton, Saha said. He and other demonstrators did not face any repercussions for their actions during the classroom demonstration.

While the strike is presently suspended, Saha said that if given the chance, he would be willing to host a similar demonstration again but would be more outspoken while communicating with the class.

"It was a great experience, we came to a good compromise, and after we left, the students who wanted to take the exam were able to do so without interruption," he said.

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