Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Secret's Out: Cavalier Daily Runs Story On Students' Accusations; VLW Report Pending

From today's Cavalier Daily:

Multiple Law students have filed reports against University Law Prof. Doug Leslie, accusing him of making offensive comments, using harsh language and giving preferential treatment to particular students. An investigation about the concerns is now underway, Law School Dean Paul Mahoney said.

In recent days, the accusations have become the subject of some conversation among many Law students, as Leslie sent a mass e-mail to his students encouraging them to voice their opinions to Academic Assoc. Dean Jim Ryan. Leslie declined to comment further about the proceedings, but referred The Cavalier Daily to a copy of the e-mail. According to that copy, several former students cited the professor for inappropriate behavior.

Read More. Ah the virtues of being a daily instead of a weekly . . . anyway, the article mostly just rehashed the full letter that UVA Law Blog posted.

Previously:

UVA Law Prof Draws Controversy for Remarks; Virginia Law Weekly to do a Full Report

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Double Hoos out there will recognize this as a total rehash of the James Sofka incident. He was alleged to have engaged in inappropriate behavior (granted, Dean Sofka's alleged misconduct was more serious than this matter). Presumably thinking that he would be vindicated by his admiring students, he took the matter into the court of public opinion by turning over the letter he received from President Casteen to the Cavalier Daily, who ran it in the paper.

Rather than rallying students behind him, the public announcement just gave confidence to other students to lodge their own complaints and to make new accusations. It totally backfired. And instead of quietly moving on, without a mar on his record, his name got dragged through the mud on the public record. Not a smart move in my book.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous above. Not surprising though - typical behavior of someone who thinks he is invincible and beyond reproach. Leslie needs to be taken down a notch.

Anonymous said...

As a double hoo, I argue that there is a huge difference between Sofka and Leslie. Sofka’s cavorting with female students occurred in his office and behind closed doors. He was not a tenured professor, blantly hit on Echol scholar girls, and his actions had nothing to do with his academic pursuits. In contrast, Leslie’s alleged comments were in class discussions and can be explained away. Therefore, he will have more leeway by tying them back to his subject matter. Additionally, as a law professor, I think his e-mail made sense. By memorializing a position, sticking to that position and seeming sensitive to the accusations it will show that he is sensitive to the student’s comments. I think the accusers will have a high burden.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1:18 PM said:

"I think the accusers will have a high burden."

I agree. Leslie has invited accusers to plead with more particularity. They should accept the challenge.

Anonymous said...

1:18 PM -

Agreed. In my post at 8:18 AM, I meant to suggest more of a connection in the attempt to vindicate oneself in the court of public opinion than in the underlying conduct. As you have pointed out, the latter may bear on the success of the former. Fair enough.

While I think the complaining students are probably overly sensitive, I do not think they are totally off base. Most of us (myself included) probably don't mind crassness on the part of professors in the classroom. It does not mean, however, that people who are offended by it are unreasonable.

I don't think the burden will be as high as you might think. Assuming it's true that he said some of the things he's alleged to have said, I don't think that complaining students will have to prove somehow that his comments were objectively offensive or constituted gross misconduct before the administration will be willing to do something about it.