Despite all evidence to the contrary, getting admitted to Yale remains the goal of students who want to grasp the gold ring. And assuming they’re reasonably intelligent, they would be expected to pick up on the message Yale is sending to students about what it will be looking for. Walter Olson explains.
“For those students who come to Yale, we expect them to be versed in issues of social justice,” Ms. Mendlowitz writes. “I have the pleasure of reading applications from San Francisco, where activism is very much a part of the culture. Essays ring of social justice issues.” Even if applicants from less-fortunate areas of the country cannot be expected to meet the Bay Area standard, the message is clear. The post is titled “In Support of Student Protests.”
This endorsement of activism raises a few questions. Would Yale really turn away a brilliant young flutist, chemist or poet who, while solidly educated in history, religion and government, is not specifically “versed in issues of social justice”? What about students who have pursued courses based on great works of the past? Must they be versed in contemporary views of social justice too? Besides, which causes constitute social justice?
It may be that Yale doesn’t mean what Mendlowitz says. It may be that admissions officers won’t scrutinize applications for their social justice bias. But if you wanted to get into Yale, would you have the chance of supporting the ideas of, say, Friedrich Hayek?
Suppose a student had been deeply influenced by Friedrich Hayek’s “The Mirage of Social Justice.” After reading it, she had concluded social justice does not offer a particularly useful “take” on the moral problems of society, and that other standards—justice toward individuals, protection of personal rights, peace and nonaggression, neutral and impartial application of law—are better.
Now suppose she put that in her Yale application, knowing that screeners would be looking for some indication she was “versed in social justice.” Would it affect her chances of making the cut?
A good deal of time is spent looking at what is done to shape young minds in college, but if the students are admitted based on their sworn allegiance to an ideology, well-versed in social justice, it makes the indoctrination not only easier, but deeper. It’s like AP for social justice, allowing woke profs to start out teaching Social Justice 301 rather than 101. They could be doing graduate level work by the second semester! Imagine the gains that could be made.
But so what? Who cares? They’re just a bunch of dopey kids, with dopey-kid ideas, stunted adolescence and a life of entitlement. They’ll grow up, right? Sure, some will, and others will to some extent. After all, some will choose to go on to law school, where they will surely be taught to think, to reason, to reach beyond their childish feelings so that they can be worthy of the responsibility of holding other people’s lives and fortunes in their hands? Surely.
This is what made the protest of Christina Hoff Sommers at Lewis & Clark Law School so troubling.
Christina Hoff Sommers has for years been a critic of the women’s movement — and has in turn been criticized by many feminists. She has accused feminists of an ideology that hurts boys and men. Feminists accuse her of distorting their ideas.
Not until the fourth graf at Inside Higher Education, after the first three denigrating Sommers’ views, is it mentioned that law students shut down her presentation as an invited speaker. And as protests go, it was both misdirected, as Sommers is no Milo, and infantile, as it consisted mainly of silly chants and empty platitudes.
At the beginning of the event, protesters prevented Sommers from talking by shouting, “Rape culture is not a myth,” “Microaggressions are real,” “The gender wage gap is real,” “Trans lives matter,” “Black lives matter” and other chants.
There was a law school administrator present, the “dean of diversity,” and she took charge.
[Janet Steverson, a law professor and dean of diversity and inclusion at the law school, told Sommers] to cut short her remarks and move to the question period. Steverson said she did so to promote an orderly discussion. She said she was worried that Sommers was going on too long and that the question period would be minimal. Steverson said the argument she and others made to students not to disrupt was premised in part on the idea that students would be able to question Sommers.
“I could see the students getting antsy,” Steverson said, explaining why she asked Sommers to move quickly to the question period.
This sounds reminiscent of a parent telling the kids in the back seat that they’ll be there soon to stop them from getting “antsy.” But these aren’t toddlers. They’re law students. But surely, for realsies this time, they will grow up when they graduate law school, as no lawyer would be so incapable of impulse control that they couldn’t manage to either sit through a presentation without bursting with their need to chant. Right? Right?!?
At Above The Law, it took Joe Patrice five grafs to get to the subject of his post, the first four dedicated to denigrating Jeff Sessions and, well, other amorphous stuff. But Joe finally gets to his point:
So another vapid provocateur showed up on a law school campus yesterday to pull the same old stunt. Christina Hoff Sommers, a paint-by-numbers anti-feminist who thinks that boys are the real victims and has some scary thoughts about rape, appeared at Lewis & Clark Law School — a program with an environmental law focus in one of the most rabidly liberal states in the country — and was shocked and dismayedTM to be protested.
Sommers didn’t exactly “show up,” but was invited to speak by a student group, but that doesn’t further Joe’s snark.
But I understand I’m privileged enough to listen to these people and argue with them later. I understand I’m likely to get invited to my own podium someday. Not everyone has that luxury and the only hope they have to make their voices heard is by pushing notions of “respectability.” Not that we should abandon opportunities for honest discourse where available, but when the power dynamics are one-sided, waiting patiently isn’t an option. It was “impolitic” to sit at lunch counters too.
Unlike the woke L&C law students, Joe was* a lawyer, albeit one who thought his future furthered by writing for ATL than practicing law. And while he frames it as “privileged,” which is a great word to cover all gaps, he tacitly concedes that the kids weren’t as “mature” about it as he, in his privileged self-interest, might have been. But power dynamics! Waiting patiently isn’t an option!
To be fair, most of the students present did not engage in this protest. They didn’t ask their fellow students to let Sommers speak, either, but they did demonstrate self-restraint. But when there is garbage in, there is garbage out, and how can a client know whether their lawyer went to Yale undergrad well-versed in social justice and came out of law school an Above The Law reader instead of a competent lawyer?
*My editor, Beth, corrected the past tense to the present, “Joe ‘is’ a lawyer.” This may be a philosophical question, so I note her correction rather than edit my original use of the past tense.