No Hayek In Higher Ed

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.

15 comments on “No Hayek In Higher Ed

  1. wilbur

    Self restraint, indeed. When I watched this video yesterday, I couldn’t help but wonder why the other students (presumably there to hear Sommers) just didn’t get up out of their seats and throw those pinheads out. Eject them.

    It’s a different world than the one in which I grew up. Some would say for the better.

    1. SHG Post author

      The level of fortitude it requires to do something that will not only evoke the fury of fellow classmates, but brand one all the -ists possible, is a huge leap from merely listening to Sommers. Most lawyers lack the guts to take an unpopular stand. To expect that of law students is a leap too far.

    2. Frank

      Hey, at least it wasn’t the “Lock ’em in, burn it down” the woke at a certain Canadian college pulled the other day. And people wonder why I “bitterly cling to my guns.”

  2. Fubar

    But these aren’t toddlers. They’re law students.

    That conclusion’s foundations are shifty.
    They thought shouting and screaming was nifty.
    Without circumlocution,
    My simple solution:
    Raise the age of consent up to fifty!

  3. B. McLeod

    Yale is assuming it can keep its place in the hierarchy while boldly announcing it wants only social justice drones and will teach only social justice dogma. This may not prove useful for the long term placement rate, and Yale’s assumption may be mistaken. I don’t see why anyone would deliberately hire some person who has been trained for a period of years to be obnoxious and take offense at everything, Yale or no Yale.

      1. Billy Bob

        A duty without an obligation. Does S & B still exist? It’s sooo elitist and non-progressive, by all accounts. Does it really matter what’s taught and/or learned at Yale? It’s the piece of parchment paper at the end of the tunnel which leads to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Sometimes it works, and just often, it doesn’t. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, summa cum laude-breath! Case in Point: Bush #43.
        “For those of you who are merely C-students, you too can become President!”

        Yale is highly overrated–John Kerry-breath–but Harvard certainly is not! Go Crimson, go!

  4. Billy Bob

    There once was a man named Hayek,
    Who was wont to upset the kayak.
    His free market theories,
    Were anathema to the queeries,
    At Yale, Harvard and Coumbia”s.

    PS.,,, From Yale to Jail is not that difficult in New Haven. The best way to learn about *social justice*– while performing your tour of duty at Yale–is to visit New Haven Superior Court, GA 25, during docketed arraignments. It’s a stones-throw away on Elm Street, across the Green, starting at 9:00 a.m., weekdays. It would make for great entertainment, if it were not so tragic–not to mention *unjust*.

    Focus Bill, focus! No, I’m not a robot, nor *was* I ever one.

    1. Patrick Maupin

      There once was a poet named Billy Bob *
      who with FUBAR would try to hob-nob.
      But with age and beer come distraction
      that make it hard to provide satisfaction
      by writing a limerick that rhymes properly.

      * I have no real room to criticize, given my own less-than-stellar efforts, but I always stoop to pick up a paradigm in the streets.

      1. Jim Tyre

        Isn’t he a lawyer if one applies your own Mary Ann Franks standard?

        And more seriously, I simply do not see why anyone has a problem with Salma Hayek.

  5. Pingback: Yale: "We expect [applicants] to be versed in issues of social justice." - Overlawyered

  6. LTMG

    The role of Ms. Mendlowitz seems to be to ensure that Yale becomes even more of an echo chamber. So much for “diversity.”

    1. SHG Post author

      Whether “even more” is possible, I dunno, but she surely signals the sort of student Yale wants, and thus, the sort it doesn’t.


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