Paul L. Caron

Sunday, March 10, 2019

I Thought I Could Be A Christian At Yale Law School. I Was Wrong.

Yale Law Logo (2019)The Federalist op-ed:  I Thought I Could Be A Christian And Constitutionalist At Yale Law School. I Was Wrong, by Aaron Haviland (3L, Yale Law School):

I am a third-year student at Yale Law School. Before law school, I attended the Naval Academy and the University of Cambridge, and I served in the Marine Corps. I am also a member of my school’s Federalist Society chapter. ...

[M]y friends and I sent out a school-wide email announcement about a guest speaker event for the upcoming week. A lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Christian legal group that has won numerous First Amendment cases at the Supreme Court, would be discussing Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Given that ADF has been smeared as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, we expected some controversy. But what we got was over-the-top even by Yale standards.

The first condemnation was from Outlaws, the law school’s LGBTQ group. They attacked the Federalist Society for inviting ADF to campus and called for a boycott of the event. Over the next 24 hours, almost every student group jumped onto the bandwagon and joined the boycott. ...

In addition to the boycott, some students said people who supported ADF’s position should no longer be admitted to the law school. One student emailed a list of the Federalist Society board members (publicly available information) so students would know whom to “thank” for this event.

The event took place two days later. Around 30 people attended. The boycotters decorated the front door with rainbow posters, but mostly stuck to protests and support groups in other rooms. The one disruption occurred near the end of the event, when three students walked in, rifled through empty pizza boxes, and left with a couple leftovers. On their way out, one of the protestors blew us a kiss and gave us the middle finger.

Compared to the undergraduate events that often make the news, our campus controversy was relatively tame. But it still left scars. The amount of vitriol and cyberbullying that came their way brought a couple of my classmates to tears. Some didn’t feel safe on campus. Those of us in our third year of study continued to count down the days to graduation. ...

I came to Yale Law School feeling optimistic and grateful for the opportunity. I knew that I would be in the intellectual minority, but I hoped that I could reasonably disagree with and learn from my peers. A lot of smart people come to this school, I thought to myself. Although we held different political beliefs, we probably shared a common passion for the rule of law.

I was wrong. And now I am deeply disappointed. ...

Every email announcement the Federalist Society sent out met a snarky, vitriolic response by progressive students. Members of the first-year class were routinely bullied by their peers. In one case, a student searched through the LinkedIn profile of a conservative classmate, saw the conservative had a connection to ADF, and shared that information with the entire class. Others then demanded a list of all law students who had connections to ADF.

This harassment has become almost routine and takes place with the full knowledge of the school administration. Occasionally, the administration steps in and releases a statement about the importance of civility and community. Yet the threats and intimidation persist, and the perpetrators feel no consequences.

Law school is supposed to be a place for serious thinkers, and you would think that the number one law school in the country should be a cut above the rest. But too often, the adults are nowhere to be found. ...

I will graduate in three months, and I do not want to carry this bitterness with me when I go. It helps that I truly have no regrets about attending Yale. I have been afforded tremendous professional opportunities that would have been unavailable anywhere else.

I have made a close group of friends whom I trust. We share a bond borne out of three years of shared adversity and frustration. Finally, I have been privileged to study under professors I genuinely respect and admire because of their commitment to intellectual freedom and civil disagreement.

But then I walk back to campus for a class and see a protest sign, or I open another email smearing the Federalist Society. Then I feel viscerally angry about what this school has put my friends and me through. It will take a while to finally let go of this anger, and I probably need to put some distance between me and this school. For now, I will just try to stick to my studies, support my friends, and count down the days to graduation.

Christian Headlines, Student Says a Christian Can’t Survive at Yale Law School

Aaron Haviland ’19 from Yale Law School on Vimeo.

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Now that a federal indictment indicates posing as an athlete is a plausible route to an education there, go if you think it's constructive, but if not feel free to learn at least as well somewhere else and just stop by to see if they'd like a tract or something.

Posted by: Anand Desai | Mar 12, 2019 10:15:25 PM

Dude, Bill Buckley started this schtick in 1950. God and Man at Yale.

Somehow early Christians managed to survive and thrive through the brutality of the Roman Empire.

But apparently being treated like young prince at the most elite, well resourced and cushy university in the country (Yale doesn't even give grades!) is too much for Christian kids these days to handle, because someone might disagree with you.

We conservatives should exclude gays from military service. But if anyone wants to exclude us conservatives from the cool kids table, it's a national tragedy.

Posted by: memo | Mar 11, 2019 11:08:31 AM

I don't understand the "Christian" connection. Perhaps this gentleman should have read a famous 1951 book by William F. Buckley Jr. before he enrolled.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Mar 11, 2019 6:44:53 AM

"Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Federalist Society?"

Posted by: AMTbuff | Mar 11, 2019 6:02:56 AM

When I was at Yale, some Christian students wanted to block the gay law association. Now, its the other way around. Majorities are inevitably intolerant, I'm hard pressed to think of an exception.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Mar 11, 2019 5:22:51 AM

Scary to think that many of those same intolerant classmates will someday be running parts of our government and major organizations or companies.

One of the best arguments for small government (federal and state) and eradicating too big to fail.

I *heart* FedSoc. We'll ultimately win the fight for America's soul.

Posted by: Anon | Mar 10, 2019 7:32:59 AM

I didn’t go to Yale which probably explains (1) what does this article have to do with being a Christian and (2) it sounds like you learned a lot from this experience so maybe Yale is a good school after all.

Posted by: Kim Bloomquist | Mar 10, 2019 7:30:27 AM