Monday, March 16, 2009

UVA Law Prof Draws Controversey for Remarks, Treatment of Minority Students; Virginia Law Weekly To Do A Full Report

The editors of UVA Law Blog debated for sometime about whether to publish this email. Sent by a UVA Law professor to current and former members of his first year contract, it is his response to allegations from some of his student. Our decision to publish this, after receiving it from multiple sources, is based on the following factors:
  • The Virginia Law Weekly will be doing a full report on the matter this week or next; when the professor in question was aksed for his comment, he refered the Law Weekly to this email.
  • The email had so many recipients, and has now subsequently been seen by so many people, that it is basically public.
  • We will not publish the professor's name.
  • Do not post the prof's name in the comments, or the names of any of his students (complaining or not). They will be deleted immediately.
  • All of the information in the letter (including the name of the professor) will be made public -
  • We ask that other blogs NOT link to this story but instead WAIT for the Law Weekly's full investigation, which will be available sometime after Friday on its website, lawweekly.org.
  • At this time, none of the editors have any comment on this issue.
* * *

From: <lawitc%UVA@lawnotes2.law.virginia.edu>
Date: Thu, Mar 12, 2009 at 7:25 PM
Subject: My future teaching
To: "Contracts [redacted] 02 FA2008" <302mp@law6.law.virginia.edu>

Last Tuesday, Dean Mahoney called me into his office to tell me that there had been student complaints about my conduct of Contracts [redacted] this fall. This came as a complete surprise to me. The dean indicated he might find it necessary to disallow me from teaching first-year courses (Contracts and Property) on account of these complaints.

The complaints recounted at that meeting were three:

* That I failed to call on African American students (whether he meant cold-call or recognition of a volunteer was not clear to me).
* That I said in class, “Where are all the Jews?”
* That I used an example in which a married law student was seen socializing with the spouse of another law student, which gave rise to a threat probably constituting duress.

I responded to Dean Mahoney later that day with an email that listed the number of fall-semester participations of all the students in the section. That list, taken from a seating chart that is still in my possession and offered to the dean, did not show any evidence of discrimination against African American students: one African American student had a low level of participation, a second student was in the middle, and a third was at the highest level (it would surely have been higher had she not missed 7 classes due to an illness).

I also wrote that I do not use language such as “Where are all the Jews?” because I do not use the word Jews — I don’t know why I don’t, but I don’t. But I may well have asked whether the students absent that day were Jewish (I do use that word) and presumably observing Yom Kippur. I was on a law school committee at that time that was charged by the Chair to discover whether students were extending their fall break by not returning to school on the Thursday and Friday of break week.

With respect to the example of a married student consorting with the spouse of a classmate, I reported to the dean that I did not recall the occasion of any such remark, but if the example was used it probably was to illustrate the issue of a lawful remark (I will tell your spouse) being used to gain a contractual advantage. In short, it would have been used to illustrate duress and the relationship between that doctrine and the crime of blackmail.

Today I received a letter from Dean Mahoney recounting interviews with students about these matters and concluding

“There are sufficiently common fact patterns in these statements that I did not think I could simply ignore them. Some of the statements attributed to you, if accurate, are sufficiently outrageous or insensitive that I could not in good conscience tell a student that his or her concerns were unreasonable.

"I will await your response to the student statements before making any decisions about your teaching assignments going forward."

Here is the text of the dean’s letter with respect to the interviews:

Student No. 1
"When a female student misspoke and confused 'lay' and 'lie' ... Prof. [redacted]'s immediate
response was to make a joke asking if he could 'lay/lie' you."
"On Rash Hashanah/Yom Kippur, noticing an absent chair, asked 'Where's the Jew?', then
discussed how 'Cary and Martha' won't 'allow' him to penalize students for missing class for
religious reasons...."
"Used a hypothetical in which a pregnant mother was unable to get to the hospital in a snow
storm—a specific student was the mother-to-be and Prof. [redacted] was the father."
"In another hypothetical, the fact pattern began with the spouse of one of the married students in
the class having an extramarital affair."
"Although Prof. [Redacted] was rude to all students... He seemed extra rude to [an African-American student]"

Student No. 2
"making a joke about 'laying' [a female student]"
"Introducing a hypothetical about one student's spouse having an affair."
"Making fun of a Jewish student for observing [the high holidays]"

Student No. 3
"Professor
[redacted] also used me in a hypothetical in which a member of my section 'saw me' withthe husband of another student in our section...."

Student No. 4
"He called on students of color almost never—and when he did, he cut those students off before
s/he had an opportunity to finish a sentence."
"When a Jewish student was absent for High Holy Days,
[redacted] asserted his belief that it was
silly that schools and employers allowed these absences...."

Student No. 5
"During one of the Jewish High Holidays, Professor
[redacted] started class by commenting that one of our fellow classmates was missing for the holiday and asked the class something to the effect of 'Aren't there any other Jews in class?'"
"On another occasion while trying to demonstrate the legal concept of duress to the class, Professor [redacted] created a hypothetical narrative in which one of my classmates (female) was caught kissing the husband of another one of my married classmates."

So, that is the background of this rather long email. I am in serious danger of being excluded from teaching first year courses next year, or, for all I know, ever. I am alleged to discriminate against African Americans by not allowing them to talk in class or by failing to accord them respect when they do. I am alleged to be anti-Jewish. I am alleged to use sexually-charged, inappropriate hypotheticals in class. Finally, I am rude.

I have taken two immediate steps. I have announced in class that I will no longer cold-call, but will only take volunteers. This will avoid the allegation that I do not call on African Americans, although it will not avoid the “treating with respect” issue. (I know, and regret, that it will also mean that I can no longer encourage shy students to “break the ice” by talking in class). I have also begun to audio-record all my classes, so that hypotheticals or other remarks made by me will cannot be inaccurately reported.

If you are so inclined, I invite you to communicate with the deans with respect to these charges. There needs to be as much feedback as possible on these issues, whether for me or against me. I think the appropriate person to contact is Dean Ryan at jryan@virginia.edu.

This email has been sent to all students in my first-year classes who have not yet graduated.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

it's extremely easy to find the professor since the fall class schedule is listed on the uva law website, with the sections taught included. so, redact the section letter if you want it to be completely anonymous.

Rule 12 (f) said...

You raise a good point, and we will do so - although obviously, UVA students (of which I assume you are one) are going to know who this really soon, if they don't already. Not putting the Prof's name out there to prevent nefarious google results until this thing is sorted out, not necessarily to keep the thing a total secret. Hope that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Hope the Law Weekly address the the fact that, at least as I heard it, not a single complaint was made to anyone (Deans Mahoney, Ballenger, Ryan. . .etc) until after grades went up, when some people who clearly did poorly (hence complaints about not getting called on) took issue with their grade

Anonymous said...

It is very unfortunate that this has become public before being sorted out. While this professor has been accussed of being offensive, and has allegedly said things he absolutely should not have said, please, let's remember that we don't know the truth yet.

Similarly, it is possible that the students involved are lying, which would be a truly horrible thing to do, but they could just as easily be telling the truth.

Let's nobody rush to judgment. This is a difficult situation, let's all be respectful and understanding.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that this has come out while admitted students are deciding on schools. This reflects so poorly on the school - and doesn't reflect the wonderful experiences I have had with professors here. It was the professor who made these allegations public - so I don't see why his name should be redacted. Furthermore, the professor's decision to comment on students' participation (and hence, their grades) is scandalous. How would you feel if you were one of the three students whose performance was published? Anyone who knows this section can probably identify the students. Lastly, we don't know who made these allegations. 10:06 PM shouldn't speculate on who made the complaints and when they were made based on the weak claim of "at least as I heard it." There were at least five students in the class who made these allegations and yet there were only three black students. Whatever was happening in that classroom bothered at least 1/6 of the class - and not just the black students. We don't know if the students mentioned were even the ones who made the complaints!

Anonymous said...

If the allegations are proven true, Professor should be fired. These comments would be totally inappropriate in any setting, especially in a first-year section. If the allegations are proven false (or worse, if they were false and motivated by lower-than-desired grades) then the students should be expelled. I have to imagine this would be an Honor Code violation Unfortunately, neither outcome is likely, because these allegations are nearly impossible to prove or disprove months after the fact. Therefore, we will probably be left with a compromised "solution" of Professor being sanctioned with his first-year sections being taken away, but otherwise no further action.

Anonymous said...

While 5 students from a section-sized class is sizable, note that no one complained about any of this in their course evaluations. Granted, only a few evaluations were even submitted, but it really calls into question whether the real offense was their grade. Also, the student(s) offended by the hypo should get a sense of humor and a thicker skin. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing suspicious about the complaints surfacing after grades were posted.

I mean, would you report a professor before you received your grade? Personally, I would never trust the confidentiality of my complaint enough to risk such retaliation. Even if my name were kept secret, if the content of the complaint were to make it to the professor, my identity could have very well been revealed.

Anonymous said...

maybe these students should look into a gentler profession (nursery school teacher?) -- people in teh real world will be much worse than this prof, especially in this economy. hth.

Anonymous said...

Please keep in mind that these are 1L students. No student here wants to confront their professors regarding senstive issues for fear of grade retaliation. Especially not 1st semester, 1L students. While we do have our blind grading system, this professor's grading style utilized a strong participation component, making any confrontation prior to grades especially risky.

Furthermore, this story does not come as a surprise at all. Rumors had been circulating regarding this professor for some time. I personally stayed away from his classes due to the many allegations surrounding his classroom behavior and comments. I'm glad that an investigation is taking place and I feel sorry for all his current and former students.

Anonymous said...

Come one people, can't somebody express a thought without jumping to conclusions (not all of you, but most of you)?

Anonymous said...

Anyone else hear that?

Sounds like chickens.

Chickens coming home.

To roost.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that the students are lying, although the nature of some of these complaints is subjective and perhaps subject to embellishment or speculation, particularly after receiving a bad grade. Perhaps the issue that has arisen here illustrates the need for a confidential means of reporting problems with professors; if such a mechanism had been available, the school may have recieved anonymous complaints during the semester and could have required class to be recorded or taken similar measures to monitor the situation. I agree with the previous poster who notes that this situation is not generally reflective of my experiences with UVA professors; it is unfortunate that this debaucle might detract from UVA's reputation. However, it is not unheard of for a section to have an issue with a professor that is best resolved before the end of the semester - whether the professor is interpreted as offensive, ill-prepared, et al. I strongly support a reporting mechanism to catch these situations before a semester has wiled away, important material may not have been taught as well as it could have, and any evidence of midsconduct has grown "stale." However, as this matter stands, if I were Dean Mahoney, I would select at least four or five other students in that class to provide comment on these issues - students with diverse grades and ethnic backgrounds. I might also solicit feedback from anonymous forms from all the students. I do think it is odd that the evaluations did not note any of these isseues. Yes, there may be reporting reluctance among 1Ls - there are also plenty of examples of 1L professors who have gotten skewered by this system. Lastly, I really don't know that I understand the wisdom of the professor's extended email, or the tone in which it was written. I would have kept it shorter and given far less information, particularly information which could implicate a small number of students personally.

Anonymous said...

Based on these comments it does seem that everyone agrees all comments were made after the grades were up, (so 10:06 seems right). Evidently not a single comment beforehand. People also seem to agree that not a single comment was made in the TOTALLY ANONYMOUS evaluations.

I was a 1L once, and I would never want to go up to a prof and say anything about their comments, and I am not even sure I would go to Dean Mahoney. But how else do you explain NOT ONE COMMENT till grades? Plus, this is the kind of stuff that Dean Ballenger and Dean Ryan are there to deal with. Both are incredibly nice and if you have met them or interacted with them you would realize they would never compromise a student's privacy.

There are so many ways in which this could have happened earlier, at the end of classes, in eval forms. Can anyone say that any one of these happened? Instead, the person waited for grades . . .

Anonymous said...

Uh... what reporting mechanism do you suggest would be truly anonymous? If the prof receives notice of the complaint, she will likely assume it was filed by the student to whom the she directed her misconduct.

And did you really suggest that anonymity could be guaranteed if, upon receipt of a complaint, the faculty-run administration were to secretly tap the classroom to record subsequent lectures? And what of the incident that prompted the complaint? Need a pattern be shown to warrant any disciplinary action?

This concern that bad grades are motivating spurious complaints is plainly ridiculous to me, particularly for conduct that occurs in class before dozens of witnesses. Tell me, in what court would a bad grade undermine the credibility of a complainant when her story is corroborated by 5 other witnesses?

(Lord knows the student didn't get worse than a B- anyway).

Anonymous said...

Anon at 6:55 said:

"There are so many ways in which this could have happened earlier, at the end of classes, in eval forms. Can anyone say that any one of these happened? Instead, the person waited for grades . . ."

You seem to think you've stumbled across some brilliant point with this [comment erased] argument.

1) You don't know when the complaints were made. You know when action was taken.

2) Mistreatment during the semester might be tolerated if the mistreated person[s] feel that the prof will nonetheless be fair in his *grading*. So we have two issues: fairness during the semester, and fairness in evaluating. The latter is clearly more important, and correlations b/w these two issues can't be discovered until the latter takes place. So someone's willingness to tolerate blatant favoritism during the Socratic give-and-take might be contingent on a future belief that such favoritism will not creep into the grading process.

Capiche?

10:06 attempts to explain away the "complaints about not being called on" as similarly opportunistic. Let's recall what those complaints were again. The prof in question only cold-called a few students - the same few students, all semester. These students, whom the prof says he called on b/c they were "shy," got automatic points from what we know. What is your rationale for giving "shy" kids this extra boost? And do you suppose these "shy" kids shared other characteristics besides their "shyness"? Like lower levels of melanin, maybe? Worth finding out.

Anonymous said...

The Cavalier Daily scooped the Law Weekly:

http://www.cavalierdaily.com/news/2009/mar/18/professor-faces-multiple-accusations-from-students/

A girl 1980 said...

Can we use this incident as a reason that the discretionary participation component of a grade should be abolished?

You know the law or you don't. Your exam is coherent or it isn't. Talking just to get the little participation check by your grade is stupid.

Anonymous said...

As a former student of this professor, I can say that these comments sound very typical of what I experienced in his class. While I never went to the Dean about this professor, I, like many other students, expressed my opinions in the evaluations, but they do not appear to have made any difference. Bad grade or not, I think these students did the law school a favor by bringing the professor's behavior to light.

Anonymous said...

who thinks 10:06pm and 11:08am are the offending prof?

the ridiculous grades scapegoat sounds awwwwfully similar to the "minority activist agenda" he pointed to 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

A note on course evaluations: I had this professor, and laptops are not allowed and thus time isn't given in class to submit our evaluations. I tend to forget to do them without being requested to in class, so I'm sure much of this class was the same way.

tjsshadow said...

And, I hardly feel like evals are the proper forum to express offense to something with the hope that sometime will actually be done to the professor.

I also agree that the grades scapegoat is overplayed. Could the students involved have handled the situation better? Probably. But, I think the focus should be on 1. Determining exactly what was said and 2. deciding whether those comments truly crosses the line.

Anonymous said...

If you read the Cavalier Daily article closely, it says that the investigation started in the Fall, well before grades were up.

Anonymous said...

"I also agree that the grades scapegoat is overplayed. Could the students involved have handled the situation better? Probably. But, I think the focus should be on 1. Determining exactly what was said and 2. deciding whether those comments truly crosses the line."

Your 2 focuses (foci?) are a bit narrow. "What was said" is surely of interest, and this part of the complaints is perhaps the easiest to sort out as an evidentiary matter, but the complaints and Leslie's lengthy response, which includes several affirmative defenses, implicate a host of other issues and concerns that may be related to "what was said" and that might go beyond "what was said."

tjsshadow said...

6:27, point taken and I agree that Leslie has opened up some new issues on himself with the way he has handled the situation. I guess what I was getting at is that many people have gone after the students who made the complaints - and although I think there are legitimate criticisms of the way the students handled the situation - it shouldn't distract from the central issue which I see as Leslie's alleged conduct.

Anonymous said...

Yikes, 7:10. Anonymity makes some people cranky!

In response:

"Uh... what reporting mechanism do you suggest would be truly anonymous?"

Really? This shouldn't be so difficult. It would be as simple as letting students know that they are free to submit anonymous, unsigned complaints to the mailbox of a professor. It's not preferable - it would be better to follow up with the complaining student. However, it seemed from the initial report that early reporting was a problem. Subsequent reports have indicated that this doesn't seem to have been the issue here, however - the students here felt comfortable or strongly enough to complain without anonymity.

"If the prof receives notice of the complaint, she will likely assume it was filed by the student to whom the she directed her misconduct."

I disagree. Anyone could have submitted the complaint. It could also be written vaguely enough to conceal the nature of a particular incident involving the complaining student. This would be especially easy when complaining about a professor who seems to insult someone every ten minutes.

"And did you really suggest that anonymity could be guaranteed if, upon receipt of a complaint, the faculty-run administration were to secretly tap the classroom to record subsequent lectures?"

I didn't suggest "tapping," although that's cute. You took that and ran in your own Bush administration-esque direction with it. I would notify the professor that students had complained about his demeanor during class and ask him to tape his own lectures, from start to finish.

"And what of the incident that prompted the complaint? Need a pattern be shown to warrant any disciplinary action?"

Whoa, I'm not writing the bylaws here. Some actions are so reprehensible that standing alone, they warrant disciplinary actions. Some are not. As always, these judgments rest with various deans and other school administrators.

"This concern that bad grades are motivating spurious complaints is plainly ridiculous to me, particularly for conduct that occurs in class before dozens of witnesses. Tell me, in what court would a bad grade undermine the credibility of a complainant when her story is corroborated by 5 other witnesses?

(Lord knows the student didn't get worse than a B- anyway)."

Right. Well, I agree with you there. Other professors are forced to dole out B-s also, at any rate. And, our hunches are vindicated by the Cav story indicating that the students complained before grades were released.

Anonymous said...

@9:02:


"Really? This shouldn't be so difficult. It would be as simple as letting students know that they are free to submit anonymous, unsigned complaints to the mailbox of a professor. It's not preferable - it would be better to follow up with the complaining student. However, it seemed from the initial report that early reporting was a problem."

First, early reporting is not a problem. Even if bad grades do motivate false complaints (I doubt the strength of such an effect), those complaints can get weeded out because conduct that happens in front of the entire class has dozens of witnesses. Based on what you say later in your response, it seems that we agree on this.

Second, the barrier to early reporting is a fear of retaliation and discomfort through the remainder of the semester and in grading. Your "anonymous" system does not respond to this problem. In fact, it worsens it by having complaints be submitted directly to the professor rather than to the administration.

"I disagree. Anyone could have submitted the complaint. It could also be written vaguely enough to conceal the nature of a particular incident involving the complaining student. This would be especially easy when complaining about a professor who seems to insult someone every ten minutes."

This is an entirely empirical question we need to answer: whether a professor will make the assumption--or at least develop a suspicion strong enough to induce bias--that the complainant is the person who suffered the most intensely from misconduct. Because it is actually quite reasonable for a professor to develop such suspicions. To be sure, your example of a complainant who was not a direct victim is entirely plausible, and perhaps accounts for a good percentage of complaints against faculty. But that's fully consistent with a professor reasonably harboring bias-inducing suspicions that the complainant is the victim.

"I didn't suggest "tapping," although that's cute. You took that and ran in your own Bush administration-esque direction with it. I would notify the professor that students had complained about his demeanor during class and ask him to tape his own lectures, from start to finish."

Ok, so they start taping lectures. Now what? We don't get to observe whether a pattern of misbehavior exists. To be sure, we protect, perhaps, against future transgressions, but we gain no information helpful to deciding what kind of punishment is appropriate for the incident giving rise to the original complaint. How does this solve the anonymity issue?


"Right. Well, I agree with you there. Other professors are forced to dole out B-s also, at any rate. And, our hunches are vindicated by the Cav story indicating that the students complained before grades were released."

What hunch is confirmed? All I am arguing is that it is entirely reasonable for a student to wait until after grades come out to lodge a complaint. That the students in this particular case opted not to wait should not be relied upon in developing a system of complaints that is both fair to students and likely to result in consistent and accurate complaints about misconduct by professors.

Most likely, a sufficiently anonymous system simply cannot be conceived. In this case, I would suggest that in evaluating the complaints, there be no inference of inaccuracy from the mere fact that the complaint was lodged after grades came out.

Anonymous said...

I am a practicing attorney who has taken several of this professor's classes. To imply that he is a racist is categorically false.

The fact that these students waited to submit their concerns to the Administration after grades were released and the fact that not one person mentioned his comments in their evaluation is absolutely critical. Those evaluations are anonymous, as are conversations with Dean Ryan and Dean Ballenger. If a student felt so offended, they could have certainly stepped forward at an earlier date. OR they could have noted their concerns in the evaluation. To suggest that they were 'timid' 1-Ls make them sound juvenile. These are highly achieving individuals at a top 10 law school. They should have known better, if these allegations actually happened as reported.

Furthermore, I'd like to respond to "A Girl 1980" who wrote about this professor's teaching style and his "participation checks." Yes, he employs the case file method. And yes, participation is a critical component of your grade. Why more professors don't employ this method in their own lectures is shocking to me. As a current attorney who has been practicing for several years, I can tell you that 'knowing the law' and writing a coherent exam doesn't make you a good lawyer. Being able to argue your position with confidence, being able to reason clearly, and being able to speak eloquently does. That is what this professor wants for his students, not highlighted texts with sticky flags on a case you will forget as soon as the class is over.

This professor may be a bit gruff and a bit rude, but those are the only faults you will find in an otherwise intelligent, caring and suberb teacher.

Anonymous said...

In response to the practicing attorney at 10:12am:

1) Dean Mahoney, in remarks to the Cav Daily, confirmed that the allegations were floated during the Fall semester, not after grades were released.

2) I agree that the CaseFile Method is a good idea, but it only works when the professor doesn't spend his time making irrelevant remarks about his colonoscopies, Bart (his dog), and such. I can confirm that at least half of my section never learned a lick about Contracts not because the CaseFile Method was bad, but because Leslie failed to execute on the Method.

3) I have spoken with at least 3 other practicing attorneys - U.Va. Law alums - who rolled their eyes upon the mention of Leslie's name, and said Leslie didn't teach them anything.

Anonymous said...

I usually do not post to blogs, but I felt the need to respond to some of the comments made here. Those who have outright dismissed these students' complaints because they allegedly did not mention it on the evaluations are missing the point. Their alleged failure to submit an evaluation does not mean that their allegations are untrue. I understand that some individuals see this as a reason to question their motives, but the students’ motives are not at issue. The issue is whether the conduct actually occurred, and only those that were present know the answer to that question. That is why the matter must be properly investigated.

As I recall from my experience in this professor's class, essentially half of your grade is dependent upon how often you are called on to participate. It was also my experience that certain individuals were far more likely to be called on than others. Whether it be based on race, religion, gender, people he personally liked, or whatever, this is where the focus of the attention should be. I personally find it ludicrous that half of a 1L’s grade is so heavily tied to such a measure, particularly if there is a bias in determining which students are called on to participate.
As a practicing attorney, I agree with the comment made at 10:12 AM that “'knowing the law' and writing a coherent exam doesn't make you a good lawyer.” However, they are essential components of being a good attorney and “knowing the law” was not an emphasis in this professor’s class. While I agree that more professors should encourage critical analysis of fact patterns in an effort to make their students better attorneys, critical analysis was not a key component in this professor’s class. Class time was often wasted on inane topics of conversation due to the need to get your “participation check” for the day. While the case file method is effective in theory, my experience was that it did not work in practice.

With respect to the comments that the evaluations are “anonymous,” let’s keep in mind that the current process was supposed to be anonymous as well. Yet, the professor made the choice to go after these students publicly. Perhaps the student’s lack of faith in the anonymous evaluation process was justified.

Anonymous said...

Agree with 12:07 and 11:03. People literally skim through the casefiles half an hour before class, or (more often than not) don't even bother to read them because the "discussions" and "cold calls" are absolutely irrelevant to the law most of the time. He calls on people haphazardly, talks about something completely stupid, and then attempts to count that as "participation"? And I'm supposed to have faith in his "grading system"? It's entirely up to his preferences - and prejudices.

Anonymous said...

"As a current attorney who has been practicing for several years, I can tell you that 'knowing the law' and writing a coherent exam doesn't make you a good lawyer. Being able to argue your position with confidence, being able to reason clearly, and being able to speak eloquently does."

Perhaps somebody who got a poor grade should compile a list of confidently stated, clearly reasoned, eloquently articulated statements that they made during the semester that were not credited by Leslie. And they could likewise point out stupid, irrelevant, unclear statements made by some of his "favorites" who nonetheless got A's. This is the kind of specificity that is needed to nail this jerk on the discriminatory grading charge. And it is do-able.

Anonymous said...

"As a current attorney who has been practicing for several years, I can tell you that 'knowing the law' and writing a coherent exam doesn't make you a good lawyer. Being able to argue your position with confidence, being able to reason clearly, and being able to speak eloquently does."

Most attorneys will never argue a single motion or a single point in court. I would go as far to say that many attorneys will never even see the inside of a court room. However, will those attorneys need to know the law!?!??!?! Yes. Will they need to WITE??????? Yes.

Anonymous said...

To "7:14pm": Attorneys will need to "WITE" (sic). And you are correct in stating that most attorneys will never see the inside of a classroom, but they will need to form cohesive arguments to present to their coworkers and partners. They will also need to be able to speak with clients (who are far more likely to be rude than the professor in question).

Anonymous said...

So the argument is that because some people are rude (and whatever else) in the "real world" people should tolerate it inside the classroom. That is not the "real world" but the world we create.

Anonymous said...

No, the argument is that the classroom should prepare us for the real world. And that this professor, with his case file method, does precisely that. The fact that some students don't get a lot out of the class is not the fault of the professor, but of the student.

The real argument, however, is whether or not this conduct occurred and if so, whether or not this professor is racist. Knowing him on a professional and personal level, I contend that he is not.

Anonymous said...

Isn't funny how so many people managed to gloss over all the other accusations to focus on race? I can't help but ask if some believe that it would be easiest to discredit those claims and why they think so. It is also interesting to note how this professor was accused of things similar to this yet people ignore it. I suppose the people in 1988 and 1990 were being too sensitive as well.

Anonymous said...

They were too sensitive, at least in the contracts case referred to. We should be able to openly discuss race in the classroom. Race was not a dispositive factor in the case, but it was a factor, especially given the potentially paternalistic nature of the ruling and burden of who the case fall on, which was the professor's point. This is even more evident when discussed in response to what the judge was trying to achieve.

Furthermore, just because people aren't comfortable discussing these things doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about them. And the fact that people will get offended is simply par for the course. As an academic institution, we must have an open and accurate dialogue, not one that hides behind political correctness. Again, I'm not saying that this professor stays on the right side of the line at all times, but he shouldn't be punished for talking about race in a case.

Anonymous said...

You know because you were there and understood the context?

Anonymous said...

almost any teacher in school could be accoused of saying inappropriate things if there were overly sensitive students in class. i started to count the "inappropriate" instances in my contracts 2 & employment classes (with different profs) then got bored. for that matter, my section's crim prof said very offensive, racist things, & it was apparent he hated us all. yeah, you were at the top of your class when you were here, & you're black, but you're still racist & rude, & we learned absolutely nothing.
yeah, most people don't learn anything in redacted's classes, but the same was true in my civpro class, & it was absolutely inoffensive.
whining about favoritism is entirely different than complaining about racism, as well. profs are going to have favorites, & there's no way their cold calls or taking volunteers can possibly be completely blind.
get over it.

Anonymous said...

i also took this "professor's" class my 1L year. and he made rude, sexist and racist statements in my class as well. mid-semester one student went to a dean to complain and i went as well to corroborate. uva-law has had notice of this issue for a long time and chose to ignore it. when i talked about it with other students, they said that you just had to suffer through it. i don't think that this man should be allowed to teach any classes. but if he can't be fired, let students who want to hear those comments be sujected to his hateful statements and keep him from teaching first year courses.

Anonymous said...

To all of the people claiming that the Cav Daily article indicates that the students came forward before grades came out: work on your reading comprehension. How did you get into this school?

lillian said...
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Anonymous said...
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