Paul L. Caron

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Stanford Law School Promised Free Speech Training. It Delivered A Campus Joke.

Duncan Stanford

Following up on my previous posts on the Stanford free speech controversy (links below):  Aaron Sibarium (Washington Free Beacon), Stanford Law School Promised Free Speech Training. It Delivered a Campus Joke.:

After hundreds of students at Stanford Law School shouted down a sitting federal judge in March, school administrators went into damage-control mode. Among the measures they promised to promote a more open academic climate was a mandatory half-day training session on "freedom of speech and the norms of the legal profession."

Many hailed the move as a sign that Stanford was turning over a new leaf and lavished praise on Jenny Martinez, the law school's dean, for her perceived defiance of the campus mob.

But the promised training wasn't much of a crash course in free speech. Instead, it was an online program that required barely a minute's effort, according to five people who completed the training as well as screenshots and recordings reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. Students were given six weeks to watch five prerecorded videos, most about an hour long, then asked to sign a form attesting that they had done so.

The videos could be played on mute, and the form—which could be accessed without opening the training—did not ask any questions about their content, letting students tune out the modules or skip them entirely.

"I watched none of the videos," one student said. "I never even opened the links. On the day the training was due, I went to the attestation link provided by the university, checked a box confirming I watched the videos, and that was the end of the matter. Whole process took 10 seconds."

The free speech program was much less demanding than the law school's modules on Title IX and alcohol issues, which require students to answer questions demonstrating an understanding of school policy, according to people who'd completed both trainings. The contrast has shaken students' faith in Stanford's vaunted recommitment to freedom of speech, which, one said, appears to have been "nothing more than hollow virtue signaling." ...

"Anyone could start the training and just f*** off and not listen," one student said. "It was just a waste of everyone's time," another added. ...

Stanford Law School did not respond to a request for comment.

National Review, Stanford Law and the Importance of Freedom of Speech

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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