UC Berkeley professor faces backlash for telling student to leave Bay Area if they want to find a girlfriend

UC Berkeley professor faces backlash for telling student to leave Bay Area if they want to find a girlfriend
via X/@imjaredz, UC Berkeley
Michelle De Pacina
28 days ago
A University of California, Berkeley, computer science professor, Jonathan Shewchuk, is facing criticism for advising students to leave the Bay Area if they wanted to find a girlfriend.
Key points:
  • Shewchuk’s remarks were made on an online discussion board, prompting backlash on social media platforms. 
  • Following discussions with university officials, Shewchuk issued an apology, stating that he did not intend disrespect towards women.
The details:
  • In response to a student asking for advice about finding a job and a girlfriend in the Bay Area, Shewchuk replied: “If you want a girlfriend, get out of the Bay Area. Almost everywhere else on the planet is better for that. I’m not kidding at all. You’ll be shocked by the stark differences in behavior of women in places where women are plentiful versus their behavior within artillery distance of San Jose and San Francisco.”
  • Several students immediately expressed concern and disapproval of the discussion thread in the CS 189 introductory course, which had shifted to informal dating advice. They highlighted the inappropriateness of such discussions within an academic setting, particularly citing tones of misogyny
  • “With all due respect, I don’t think this is very appropriate for a classroom discussion board (let alone at all.),” one student said, according to the New York Post. “This conversation is entirely inappropriate for a forum intended for learning and has tones of misogyny. As a woman taking this class I’m shocked by this thread as well as the professor’s engagement.”
  • Shewchuk’s comment has since been shared to social media outlets, including Reddit and X. It prompted the university’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department chairs to meet with the professor.
  • UC Berkeley officials said Shewchuk’s comment was offensive, stating that it was “hurtful and threatening,” especially to female students. Roqua Montez, a spokesperson for the university, emphasized the school’s commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for all students. 
Shewchuk’s apology:
  • Subsequently, Shewchuk released an apology, expressing regret for causing unintended offense. He said, “I did not mean to convey any disrespect for women, or anybody else, nor to blame the blameless. I value all of my students. I am sorry for my words and for how it made many of you feel.”
  • Shewchuk clarified that his comment was motivated by sympathy and a desire to assist students, acknowledging that life can be difficult at times. “I feel for all of you who are having a rough time, for whatever reason. Things can get better, and it starts with empathy for each other,” he noted. 
About Shewchuk:
  • Shewchuk received his doctorate in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1997 before joining UC Berkeley’s Computer Science Division as a professor in 1998.
  • Former and current students of Shewchuk alleged that the incident is not the first time he has made offensive and misogynistic comments. According to a junior at the school, she avoided a class with the professor due to prior reports of inappropriate behavior and a transphobic joke on his website.
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