National Review: Political Correctness at Stanford Law, by Martin J. Salvucci (J.D. 2018, Stanford):
The undergraduate college regularly boasts the nation’s lowest acceptance rates, and both the graduate business school and the law school likewise rank at the very top of their respective fields.
But all is not well on a campus where many T-shirts bear Stanford’s unofficial mantra that “Life Is Good!” Last year, former provost John Etchemendy warned publicly of a threat from within — a “growing intolerance” that has manifested as a sort of “political one-sidedness.” His admonition was, predictably, politely ignored. However, my experience at Stanford Law School suggests that, if anything, Etchemendy has understated the scope and the scale of the challenge that elite universities now face.
At Stanford Law School, no more than three of approximately 110 full-time faculty publicly identify as conservative or libertarian. (By way of contrast, Stanford Law School touts on its webpage 23 full-time faculty under the inartful rubric of “minority.”) As a consequence, many of my classmates will graduate having never engaged with a law professor whose worldview and convictions track those of nearly half the voting public.
It would require nothing less than willful blindness to presume this state of play does not affect the education that students receive. Probably for obvious reasons, my classmates demonstrate little willingness to identify publicly with anything associated with conservatism or, God forbid, President Trump, no matter how trivial. By way of extraordinary example, the Law School Republicans will soon cease to exist as a student organization because — after a campaign of intimidation and opprobrium — not one underclassman would volunteer to serve on its board next academic year.
An almost unspoken agreement seems to exist among many students that all of us will soon be fabulously successful, so long as everyone remains a “team player” and nobody rocks the boat too earnestly. Political, moral, and religious convictions are, for the most part, accessories best deployed for instrumental purposes, rather than values to be espoused or explored for their own sake. In much the same manner that all respectable people may speak or dress or eat a certain way, students at Stanford Law School have come to believe — and not entirely without reason, given their surroundings — that all respectable people should think the same way. ...
For the past two years, I have repeatedly beseeched the dean of Stanford Law School to follow the example set by the leaders of my undergraduate alma mater — the University of Chicago — and publicly affirm the centrality of viewpoint diversity to the aims of education. Each time, she has refused, citing squeamishness at the prospect of overstepping her portfolio. Yet during that same period, she has nonetheless offered schoolwide commentary on public topics as diverse as the violence in Charlottesville, the rescission of DACA, and the Trump administration’s efforts to ban transgender individuals from military service.
Beyond the Office of the Dean, Stanford Law School has staged programs aimed at helping students to #resist more effectively, celebrating International Workers’ Day and offering advice on “progressive lawyering” in the Trump era. Professors have sent schoolwide emails condemning anyone who supported President Trump as either an outright racist or an enabler who is #complicit. One professor even saw fit to join a student/alumni Facebook group for the purposes of criticizing the Law School Republicans. ...
Stanford Law School is organized, at least theoretically, as a professional school. And students gamely pay nearly $100,000 per year for the promise that they’ll receive an education that ensures their place within the ranks of America’s finest advocates. Of course, they actually receive something closer to three years of self-affirmation, navel-gazing, and a variety of more or less amusing games played by consenting intellectual adults. Genuine advocacy, by contrast, requires resolution of conflicts through adversarial engagement with mutually exclusive perspectives.