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Friday, January 12, 2024

Interview with Danielle Holley of Mount Holyoke

I mentioned The Syllabus podcast last week for a discussion about campus protest. Maybe I will make this a permanent feature. Oppenheimer this week interviews Danielle Holley, the new president of Mount Holyoke College; they discuss the benefits of HWCs, "gender-diverse" HWCs, campus free speech and antisemitism, working with SFFA, and the problem of schools pushing STEM at the expense of the humanities. Holley is a former law school prof and dean, hanging in the land of liberal arts.

Some interesting non-law things in the talk: We visited MHC on the college circuit and a friend's daughter graduated from there. And my kid had the same reaction as Oppenheimer's daughter--why does everyone talk about STEM and not English and History on the campus tours.

The interesting law thing: Holley defends Magill and Gay that context matters. She argues that they should have recognized the BS context of the hearing and the premises of Stefanik's questions and thus prefaced every answer with "Of course I oppose antisemitism, but here is why this is protected."

One interesting exchange. Oppenheimer pushes on the benefits of the free-speech maximalist position; Holley exchanges why that ship has sailed, in part because neither side of the political spectrum will accept it and both sides want colleges to restrict speech. Of course, the fact that all sides want the college to restrict speech demonstrates why they should not restrict any (constitutionally protected) speech--the maximalist position requires neutrality of the rulemaker and letting all ideas out, no matter who supports or opposes, because someone will oppose everything. (Stipulating that universities have not been consistent--I remain happy if they figure it out now and moving forward).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 12, 2024 at 12:32 PM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


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