CUNY LAW SCHOOL NEEDS TO FIRE ITS DEAN: Inside Higher Ed reports that there will be no sanctions, nor even an investigation, of the students who disrupted Josh Blackman’s talk:
Via email on Sunday, Mary Lu Bilek, dean of the law school, said that the protest was reasonable because the disruptions ended relatively early in the time frame of the appearance.
“For the first eight minutes of the 70-minute event, the protesting students voiced their disagreements. The speaker engaged with them. The protesting students then filed out of the room, and the event proceeded to its conclusion without incident,” Bilek said.
“This non-violent, limited protest was a reasonable exercise of protected free speech, and it did not violate any university policy,” she added. “CUNY Law students are encouraged to develop their own perspectives on the law in order to be prepared to confront our most difficult legal and social issues as lawyers promoting the values of fairness, justice, and equality.”
Some free-speech provocateurs should consider disrupting the first eight minutes of each of CUNY law school’s classes this week, including by forcing the professor to run a gauntlet of protesters threatening to block entry into their classrooms. After all, we now know that the law school’s official position is that eight minutes of disruption is “a reasonable exercise of free speech.” Meanwhile, Dean Bilek should be fired, and the Department of Education should investigate whether CUNY, a public institution, is violating the First Amendment rights of its guest speakers and students by giving disrupting students carte blanche, at least for eight minutes. The joke is that Dean Bilek is an ABA site visit team member, helping determine whether other law schools should get or keep the necessary accreditation, something she clearly is not competent to do.
Note that I’m not advocating any particular punishment of the students. But surely it can’t be consistent with free speech and university policy to disrupt a speaker. Indeed, that was the law school’s position before the talk. As IHE reports: “The law school sent a campuswide email stating that Blackman had a right to speak, and that protests were welcome, but not if they disrupted his appearance. At the beginning of his lecture, a law school official came to the event, repeated that message and then left.”
UPDATE: Let’s take a look at page 85 of the law school’s student handbook: “II. Rules of the university (1-11) and law school (12). 1. A member of the academic community shall not intentionally obstruct and/or forcibly prevent others from the exercise of their rights. Nor shall she/he interfere with the institution’s educational process or facilities, or the rights
of those who wish to avail themselves of any of the institution’s instructional, personal, administrative, recreational, and community services.” Also this: “5. Each member of the academic community or an invited guest has the right to advocate his position without having to fear abuse—physical, verbal, or otherwise from others supporting conflicting points of view.” The disruption didn’t violate any university policy, Dean Bilek? Have your read the student handbook?