Stanford Students Call for Termination of Dean Who Disrupted Judge's Talk

Multiple Stanford students have called for a dean to be terminated after she participated in disrupting a talk by a federal appeals judge who had been invited by the school’s Federalist Society chapter to give a talk on campus.

“The Stanford Federalist Society’s event with Kyle Duncan, a judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, was disrupted by a mob of unruly law students and a Stanford DEI [Diversity, equity, and inclusion] Dean who prevented the judge from speaking entirely” the Stanford Review op-ed titled “Fire Tirien Steinbach” read.

A video from the incident shows a group of hecklers shouting down Kyle Duncan as he attempts to give a talk on “Covid, Guns, and Twitter” at the invitation of the Federalist Society, which as the Stanford Review piece notes, “routinely invites Circuit Court judges to give talks on a variety of legal topics.”

A chorus of shouting can be heard as Duncan stands at the front of a classroom when Tirien Steinbach, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Stanford Law School, introduces herself as an administrator.

“So you’ve invited me to speak here, and I’m being heckled nonstop,” Duncan explained as the shouting continued.

“Your racism is showing,” one person can be heard saying.

“In what way?” Duncan asked in response.

After more back and forth between Duncan and the hecklers, Steinbach began to speak.

“I’m uncomfortable because this event is tearing the fabric of this community that I care about and I’m here to support … and I have to ask myself – and I’m not a cynic to ask this – is the juice worth the squeeze? Is this worth it?” she says before criticizing the judge’s “advocacy” and “opinions from the bench.”

In an interview with Reuters, Duncan expressed frustration with the hecklers.

“They are idiots,” he said. “They are hypocrites and they are bullies.”

He also told the outlet, “Maybe that’s where we are going as a society, but that doesn’t work in my courtroom.”

In a March 11 letter of apology to Duncan, signed by Marc Tessier-Lavigne, the president of the university, Jenny Martinez, a dean of the law school, referenced “staff members” who behaved in ways that were “not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech”:

We are very clear with our students that, given our commitment to free expression, if there are speakers they disagree with, they are welcome to exercise their right to protest but not to disrupt the proceedings. Our disruption policy states that students are not allowed to “prevent the effective carrying out” of a “public event” whether by heckling or other forms of interruption.

In addition, staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so, and instead intervened in inappropriate ways that are not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech.

However, the authors of the Stanford Review op-ed are insistent that a “commitment to free” speech would entail firing the dean.

“The university’s apology will be completely meaningless unless concrete actions are taken to rid the administration of anti-speech zealots,” the op-ed continued. “If Stanford cares about free speech, it must fire any administrator who actively encourages these unruly actions against it.”

You can follow Michael Foster on Twitter at @realmfoster.


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