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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Stanford Update

Stanford Dean Jenny Martinez has distributed a 10-page letter to the law school community, with a thorough discussion of the recent disruption of Judge Kyle Duncan's lecture. Unlike the earlier apologies from Martinez and President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, the new letter unequivocally condemns the disruption and calls administrators to account for failing to intervene when the heckling became intense. 

Some key passages:

The President of the University and I have apologized to Judge Duncan for a very simple reason – to acknowledge that his speech was disrupted in ways that undermined his ability to deliver the remarks he wanted to give to audience members who wanted to hear them, as a result of the failure to ensure that the university’s disruption policies were followed.

The Federalist Society has the same rights of free association that other student organizations at the law school have. Students calling for the law school administration to restrict the organization or the speakers it can bring to campus are demanding action inconsistent not only with freedom of speech but with rights to freedom of association that civil rights lawyers fought hard in the twentieth century to secure.

Enforcement of university policies against disruption of speakers is necessary to ensure the expression of a wide range of viewpoints. It also follows from this that when a disruption occurs and the speaker asks for an administrator to help restore order, the administrator who responds should not insert themselves into debate with their own criticism of the speaker’s views and the suggestion that the speaker reconsider whether what they plan to say is worth saying, for that imposes the kind of institutional orthodoxy and coercion that the policy on Academic Freedom precludes.

Associate Dean Tirien Steinbach is currently on leave.

[I]t should be obvious from what I have stated above that at future events, the role of any administrators present will be to ensure that university rules on disruption of events will be followed, and all staff will receive additional training in that regard (boldface original).

[W]ith respect to the students involved in the protest, several factors lead me to conclude that what is appropriate here is mandatory educational programming for our student body rather than referring specific students for disciplinary sanction (boldface original).

Dean Martinez also commented on the hateful and perhaps threatening messages that students and administrators, including Dean Steinbach, have received, promising an investigation and referrals to law enforcement if warranted.

You can read the letter here.


Posted by Steve Lubet on March 22, 2023 at 03:43 PM in 2018 End of Term | Permalink


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