Paul L. Caron

Thursday, December 2, 2021

A Second Open Letter From Yale Grad Simon Lazarus: 'A Take On Where Things Stand'

Following up on my previous post on the open letter by Simon Lazarus (J.D. 1967, Yale), Where Yale Law School Has Gone Off The Rails, And What Is Needed To Get Back On Track (Nov. 13, 2021):  Brian Leiter (Chicago) shared an update today from Mr. Lazarus, Trap House Enters Its Fourth Month: A Take on Where Things Stand:

Yale Law Logo (2020)In his recent address to the Federalist Society, Sterling professor Akhil Amar condemned the Yale Law School’s “duplicitous, disingenuous, and downright deplorable” actions in the Trap House Affair. As I elaborated in an earlier memo, I agree with his depiction.

I write this update to assess several significant new developments. Of these, the most noted but not necessarily the most significant is Dean Heather Gerken’s Statement of November 17, her third formal pronouncement on the affair. While she broke new ground in publicly admitting serious errors that did not adequately “conform to our values,” she did not resolve the most critical issue, namely, whether she will remove the two Law School administrators who committed the egregious violations of due process and academic freedom acknowledged in the statement. Only with that further step will Dean Gerken’s mea culpas lead to meaningful change in the life of the Law School. ...

[On] November 15, a still bigger shoe dropped.

Two Yale law students, an African-American female and a Korean-American male, filed in a Connecticut federal district court a complaint alleging that “Two Yale Law School deans, along with Yale Law School’s Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, worked together in an attempt to blackball two students of color from job opportunities as retaliation for refusing to lie to support the University’s investigation into a professor of color.” (The professor is Amy Chua, with whom Gerken and her staff had a longstanding and intense dispute over her approach to counseling students in her home.) This new allegation, and the supporting factual allegations detailed in the complaint, could suggest a pattern: the same administrators involved in the Trap House matter, Cosgrove and Eldik, deploying career-threatening pressure tactics similar to the threats caught on Trent Colbert’s I-phone, likewise to coerce students into signing statements that the students believed to be unjustified or outright false. ...

The bottom line is that administration critics can stand on strong ground to insist that fidelity to the November 17 Statement requires removal of Cosgrove and Eldik from Dean Gerken’s “team.” Whether Dean Gerken’s own conduct measured up to the standards she prescribed in her Statement will depend on what subsequent developments reveal about her role in these events. In the longer term, if Yale Law takes decisive corrective action in line with the principles embraced in Dean Gerken’s Statement, other universities may take notice, and address the potential for abuse arising from the nationwide trend flagged by Akhil Amar – increasingly large, powerful, and assertive university bureaucracies.

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