Friday, October 30, 2009

But Course Selection is Typically So Logical . . .

Earlier this semester - but after classes were chosen - it was announced that the paper deadline would be moved up to December 17, 2009 for the fall semester. But SRO did an about-face - sort of - the other day, setting the deadline again at January 19, 2009:
In fairness to students who perhaps were unaware of the revised paper deadline policy when they enrolled in courses during the summer, the curriculum committee has delayed implementation of the new policy until this coming spring 2010 semester.
One reader emailed us pointing out what he viewed as an inconsistency in this rationale:
EXPLAIN how this would not apply equally to people who enrolled in courses during the summer for the spring 2010 semester?
Verily - although there's another add/drop round coming up in January, it's tough to ask students to juggle around their courses given the vagaries of switching up their schedule at that point.

Previously:
What's the Deal With the "New" Paper Deadline

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Graduation Dues

I emailed Gretchen Adelson and Lindsey Bartlett, SBA Graduation Committee Co-chairs, about what the $55 "graduation dues" get spent on. Find below their response, which an email to the Class of 2010 today mostly co-opted (Ed. note: but for those of you not in the c/o 2010, here's what you have to look forward to). I don't have any strong opinions about it, but I appreciate knowing where the money is going.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to shed some light on 3L dues. We know that $55 is a lot of money, but the money is necessary to fund a wide variety of events for graduation weekend, as well as 3L events throughout the year. We understand that times are tight for everyone and that is why we made sure that we would not raise dues this year (they have consistently been $55 for the last several years). With that being said, here is a better idea of how dues will be used.

The vast majority of the dues (approximately 4/5) pay for events and regalia related to graduation weekend itself. These events include a catered reception at the Law School the night before graduation and a breakfast Sunday before the university-wide graduation on the Lawn. Because of this financial support, students are able to bring an unlimited number of guests to the catered reception at the Law School. Lastly, the dues help purchase each graduating student’s cap, gown, and hood.

These events are actually quite expensive and we are responsible to pay a portion of the overall cost. We have been working with the Law School Foundation and members of the administration to come up with ways to keep costs down this year. The result is that we are able to maintain the same dues charged in years past.

In addition to funding graduation weekend events, our dues pay for 3L events throughout the year. For example, this week, we will host a 3L Bonfire at Montfair Farms that is open to every 3L student. We’ll be providing transportation to the event and refreshments for students attending the bonfire. Next semester, we will host several more 3L events including a wine tasting tour, golf tournament, and a reception accompanying the Class Charge. In conjunction with NGSL, we’ll also host the 3L Softball Tournament and provide plots and refreshments for 3Ls at Spring Foxfield.

As we stated in our initial email to the 3L class, students who do not plan on attending graduation do not have to pay dues.

We understand that $55 is a lot of money and we are sensitive to the fact that students feel stretched financially right now. However, we also know that 3L graduation events are something that UVA Law students have grown to expect and look forward to. We take this responsibility seriously and have done our best to put together an enjoyable (and memorable) 3L graduation experience. If you have any further questions, please feel free to email us. Thank you.

XOXOHTH: Anthony Ciolli to Visit UVA Law

Anthony Ciolli - a former administrator of the autoadmit law school message board (aka xoxoxhth.com) - is coming to the law school next Monday at 5 PM in WB 126. Mr. Ciolli's talk is titled "The Internet and the Duty to Moderate", and given Mr. Ciolli's history, it's a subject he as a lot of experience with.

For those unfamiliar with the autoadmit affair, Ciolli - a law student at Penn at the time - was administrating the message board when anonymous commenters began to make extremely lewd. offensive, and often false comments about law students at a variety of schools, and used the forum to start a website called "T14 Talent," where pictures of women from all of the top 14 law schools (including Virginia) were posted and students could rate them.

Two of the students who were the target of such comments and whose pictures were posted decided to file a law suit, alleging copyright violations relating to the posting of their pictures on the T14 Talent site as well as claims relating to their harassment on autoadmit itself. The defendants were many pseudonymous posters (whose identities the plaintiffs - themselves proceeding anonymously - were eventually able to uncover). Ciolli was named as a defendant as well, despite the fact that § 230(c) of the 1996 Communications Decency Act says that website operators can't be held liable for what others post on their site.

In any event, Ciolli was eventually dropped from the suit, but not before the ensuing media firestorm caused him enough negative publicity for him to lose his job offer from his 2L firm. The plaintiffs dropped the suit not long ago after tracking down enough of their agitators and settling with them. And Ciolli also filed a suit against against the plaintiffs, alleging that he suffered due process violations, libel, and being publicly placed in a false light.

This is all a very rough synopsis of what occurred. Porfolio.com has a fantastic article on the entire saga, where you can read about the all the trouble Mr. Ciolli's site seems to have created. Really, it's a great read:
. . . . Many other websites control extremely salacious material either by using special coding to keep it to themselves (so that Google doesn’t pick it up) or by filtering it out, particularly if asked to do so. But AutoAdmit was a place, one poster told me, where you could tell someone to “fuck off and die” and not get banned. The site’s on-topic stuff was standard fare having to do with getting and succeeding. But off-topic threads were full of obscene bluster and ritualized intramural insult. Posters appeared to be overwhelmingly male; it was women, particularly beautiful women, particularly beautiful women at the top law schools, particularly beautiful minority women at the top law schools, who were most often skewered, dissected, and fantasized about.

Ciolli, who posted regularly, became Auto­Admit’s public face, although he insists he didn’t control what went—or stayed—up. Pleas to remove threads usually came to him; he’d generally pass them on to Cohen, and Cohen, who rarely posted on the site, would generally ignore them. To both, even its depravity was a public service. “One finds a much deeper and much more mature level of insight in a community where the ugliest depths of human opinion are confronted, rather than ignored,” Cohen wrote in a March 2005 email to Eugene Volokh, a professor at UCLA Law School and the author of a popular law blog.
Of course, as we often have to moderate the anonymous comments on this site, the subject is of great interest to us; you better believe that - barring softball playoffs - we will be there.

Related:
Online Message Board Targets Female Law Students [Law Weekly]
Two Lawyers Fight Cyber-Bullying [Portfolio.com]

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Law School's Endowment is Down

A tipster points out that the Law School's endowment has decreased approximately 20%.

Last year, in 2008, the endowment "exceeded" $354.4 million. In 2009, that endowment was "in excess of" $282.2 million (NB: these links open a *.pdf file; the numbers are summed up on p. 5 of the report).

While this decrease is steep, it's hardly surprising given what happened in the market. And it's certainly a much less precipitous drop than some facing other universities (30% at Harvard - and it doesn't appear that Harvard has a separate endowment - the 30% hit in the endowment has caused some serious cuts in Cambridge). Perhaps this is a testament to the Law School's continued high rates of alumni giving?

On a possibly but not necessarily related note,we wrote in the Law Weekly last week that the Law School is working to enhance its Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), which will hopefully make it even more competitive with those offered by the schools with whom UVA competes for students:

[Professor] Ryan also noted that, unrelated to the Law and Public Service Program, the Law School’s Loan Forgiveness Program is being re-tooled. The changes “will lift the salary cap currently in existence, and raise the amount . . . given.” He added, “Details are in the works, but I can tell you that [the new LRAP program] will be more generous than the current one.”

We support this, but we hope that it won't cause an undue strain on the budget / endowment, and won't lead to ever-more-onerous increases in tuition. Hopefully, details on the new program will be released soon.

Related:
University of Virginia School of Law Annual Report 2008 [Virginia Law]
University of Virginia School of Law Annual Report 2009 [Virginia Law]
Virginia Loan Repayment Assistance Program [Virginia Law]
Law School Lunches Public Interest Program [Law Weekly]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BarBri, Kaplan, and Deposits

As one commenter reminded us: 1Ls, by now your BarBri section rep (or now Kaplan Rep, since BarBri got slapped with a massive class-action antitrust suit, for monopolizing the Bar-prep market) has told you that you should sign up for the BarBri course three years in advance. You SHOULD sign up for BarBri or another prep course, probably, but you should probably not sign up three years in advance, at least in my opinion. To counter what your section reps (who are getting free BarBri classes for their efforts, valued at almost $3k) have been telling you, consider the following reasons why you might not want to give an interest-free loan to a test-prep company just yet...

The reasons are:

(1) There are multiple prep courses out there, some of them way way cheaper than BarBri. Especially if you think you might want to work for public interest, are you sure you want to drop a large deposit down on this course.

(2) Your firm - if you goto a firm - might pay for your course (see the link below for a list of firms that do this), sometimes in the form of a stipend, but also sometimes in the form of a direct-bill. If it's a direct bill - as many firms do - why give the BarBri people money now.

(3) You can always sign up later (i.e. once you have a job secured) and that deposit money is (I would guess) subjectively more valuable to you now as a broke student living off of debt.

(4) The study materials / review lectures alone are probably not worth the money

Check out this previous post for more info. Also, if you think I am a bad writer now, you probably will really dislike my efforts from over a year ago . . .

Just my two cents though - I probably will sign up for BarBri or Kaplan at some point soon, but I'm glad I didn't as a 1L.

Previous:
The UVA Law Blog Gang Explains Why You Might Not Want to Give Kaplan or Bar Bri Your Money Just Yet [UVA Law Blog]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

10月20日隨即的事情:Sports, Sports, Sports

* Is there a football team worse than the Washington Redskins right now? Probably, but they are pop-warner. And play in Europe. Once again, I humbly submit my candidacy for head-coach of the team. My first move will be the (almost certainly over-priced) aquisition of aging stars LaDanian Tomlinson, Junior Seau, Adam Archulletta, Brett Favre, and Jason Taylor. With that kind of talent on the field, we can't lose.

I am also fine with calling the plays - - - Example: When the team is losing 12-6, and pressed up against our own goal-line with around two minutes to go, I will be calling a play that results in forward yards. I will save the "safety" play for later, especially if we already used it in the previous week. I will also call the play that involves our $100 million-dollar defensive lineman tackling people, not the one that calls for him to get hurt every game or to gasp for oxygen on the sideline.

Needless to say, I know quite a bit about football.

* On then other hand, there is no team hotter right now than the UVA Cavaliers. The Cavaliers lead the ACC Coastal division with a 2-0 conference record, despite embarrassing losses to FCS William & Mary and mid-major Southern Mississippi. A win over Georgia Tech this weekend (who hasn't won here since spoiling UVA's National Championship hopes in 1990) would put UVA in position to be a serious contender for going to the ACC championship game, and then, a BCS game.

* Editor Emeritus FredfromJville points out that the website don'tfireAlGroh.com is blocked at the Barracks Road Panera. O rly? The latest entry - pretending to be Al Groh's twitter account - is as follows:
I just realized we are now leading two conferences: 1-0 in the ACC and 1-0 in the Big Ten! Should we pick Orange Bowl or Rose Bowl?
* Nah, you gotta aim big. We're thinking championship.

Here's what could happen - Tim Tebow decides to continue his missionary work and leaves the Gators for Africa, thus causing UF to lose the rest of its games. Colt McCoy likewise decides to get LASIK because those glasses make him look too goofy for NFL draft purposes, so UT loses as well. Alabama loses to Auburn because Jason Campbell gets cut from the Redskins and has to go back to playing for his former college team (where he is/was a stud). Cincinnati gets ignored because they are in the Big East, and no one is going to take the Big East seriously in any sport except Basketball now that the U is in the ACC. USC loses, of course, to another mid-level PAC-10 team, and Iowa loses Michigan and The Ohio State University.

Now UVA wins out, and this leaves them, TCU, and Boise State in serious contention for going to a national title game. TCU and Boise State are both undefeated, but guess what, no one likes even one non-major conference school in the national title game, let alone two. My guess is that Boise State goes because the voters don't want a repeat of a regular season match-up (TCU beat Virginia earlier this year). Thus UVA to National Championship.

I'm not saying this is probable, but it is the most likely outcome of all the various scenarios if you plug the numbers.

* One reader points out that some students at Duquesne Law School may love the bats and bases more than UVA does. Last week students at the Pittsburgh school broke the world record for longest whiffle-ball game. The game lasted 25 hours, and had a final score of 179-170 over 126 innings. In all seriousness, we would have expected moar runs . . .

Related:
The Cavs Stand Tall and They Stand Alone [Washington Post]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Law Weekly on UVA Law Blog

The anonymous Around North Grounds ("ANG") doesn't like J Crew Model's column, and doesn't like UVA Law Blog as a whole, either:
Thumbs down to UVA Law Blog author J Crew Model for his barely coherent “column” attacking Law Weekly columns as unfunny. ANG doesn’t need competition for poorly written, anonymous commentary about not liking things. Some advice from the Bible for a certain humor-stunted website: Before removing the speck from your brother’s eye, first check to see if you write for a really boring blog.
So UVA Law Blog is really boring? Frankly, we couldn't agree more; we've always acknowledged that we're boring and unfunny. To rectify this situation, we plan to scrap all of our coverage on callbacks and employment, on rising tuition, on the various "scandals" at the Law School, and on issues that might actually affect people in favor of columns that mimic those that are in the Law Weekly.
xoxo,
Rule 12(f) (who works harder as an underling at the Law Weekly than he does as the EIC of UVA Law Blog, sadly...)
Next week: UVA Law Blog reaches the heights of hilarity when we call out our friends multiple times in each column, write about the same thing four issues in a row, make inside jokes, use a million bold headings, and, of course, use lists! You won't want to miss this!!!

(EDIT: In case it wasn't clear, we like the Law Weekly and its columnists. As one commenter noted, it's hard putting out 6-8 pages every week. We hope this 'feud' or whatever it is can be considered ended and we can get back to more successful collaborations.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fire at the Jeffersonian

Update (4.54 PM): See here for Newsplex's coverage.

Don't try driving down Arlington today - the Jeffersonian Apartment complex has caught on fire, fire trucks / police are blocking the road:

The fire is at the part of the complex on the right, far end

The entire place smells like smoke, and some of the residents aren't being allowed inside their units (the ones affected by the fire). The actual blaze seems to have been taken care of, though.

As of 1PM, there are at least two fire engines, plus a bunch of police cars

Talking to some people outside, there is no indication that anyone has been injured. Damage as a result of smoke and fire seems to minimal (we live near where the fire was and our place is OK), but we don't really know. Will post updates as they are available.

Related:
Fire Destroys Apartment in Charlottesville [Newsplex]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SBA PICNIC TODAY

Don't forget! Starts at 5 PM, which means you should show up at 2.15 if you actually want to get food. Presumably it will be in Caplin Pavillion Scott Commons because of the inclement weather.

Actually, we heard that the powers that be foregoed music this year in order to get more food. Definitely the right call in our mind.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Gotta Stay Fly

Editor's Note: J-Crew Model didn't get (or apply?) for a column at the Law Weekly, so he's writing his column here(!) Here is a disclaimer of things that are wrong with it:
(1) Softball, feb club, and foxfield are awesome (in that order)
(2) None of the people he listed currently write columns for the Law Weekly

(3) Everything
Enjoy -- Rule 12(f)

Ok, so the Virginia Law Weekly has asked me to write a column because I’m a generally funny guy and the issues with 8 pages are so much better than those with 4. By the time Andy, Allen, and Jessica have turned in their columns, there’s only 2 pages left to go. And here’s where I – your guest columnist - come in.

At first I didn’t know what to write and I thought that maybe I could just talk about the word count for a couple sentences and that would take awhile (I need to get to 750 words – and not just little words either but words that take up a lot of space.). (Current word count = 117). Also, I get to put a picture of what somebody looks like, used to look like, or will look like in the future. In my dream world, I’d look like this person.

So let’s go through UVA Law-related topics and put them in list form along with some additional words I think are funny. If you don’t think I’m funny, make friends with Rule 12(f) and blast me on this blog. Or better yet (and more effective frankly because you're probably an idiot), do what everyone else does and ignore me. Anyway, what follows are some bold-faced headings about unrelated things (mandatory for Law Weekly columns because G-d forbid that the paragraphs have any relevance to one another).

Foxfield
– Get drunk wearing out-of-season clothing (“What I saw frat dudes at my ugrad wearing”) on a Sunday afternoon. Make sure you say some stuff like “I never even saw the horses.” These people are morons – the law school tents were literally next to the track. I could buy that you missed the dog race, but horses weigh some 1000 pounds and shake the ground when a group of them gallop by. Then again, maybe you only heard them while passed out next to the Dunk-n-chug station.

Softball – NGSL = TFC (look it up). UVA Law has its own super elite social scene and you all are just Nerds. You know those parking spots next to Copeley softball? NGSL senior members get those spots, not you losers who strike out on slow, under-hand pitches. And don’t bother asking where the softball dues go (answer = coolness). While we’re at it, let’s congratulate the members of NGSL for their athletic prowess and commitment to softball refereeing. (By the way, none of the above applies to you if I like you.)

Alcohol – I drink soooo much alcohol you guys don’t even know. One time I drank 25 beers just to show my boy I could do it. And they were different types of beer too. I even went to the Heineken brewery once and got totally wasted. Know what? You guys are pussies. Now Virginia Tech freshman Fratty McFraterson here knows how to do work. One look at that prestigious blue Lacoste and I knew that was someone I’d want to go to law school with.

Jobs – Anyone without a job or with a job with a firm outside V100 = not prestigious. Never-mind that the job interview process is vapid and silly. Here’s an interesting thought experiment – click through bios at your favorite V100 firm and see what areas of law attorneys practice. See how many words you know. Of the words you know, see if you can guess how one practices that kind of law. Hard, huh? Then come interview day, expect to answer questions about “innovative and market-based solutions to water-related and climate change issues, including cap-and-trade programs” and explain in detail why – based on your experience – you expect to practice in those areas. Here’s how my next interview with a firm is going to go.
Partner: Tell me why you think your skills of playing intercollegiate lacrosse and working at a pet store fit with our firm’s practices of securities and environmental litigation in front of state and federal courts?

J. Crew Model: Good question Mr. Partner. As you can see from my resume, I have no law firm experience, but I’m hoping to get some by working at a solid firm like yours in a location I grew up near. I’m curious though - at what point during your prestigious academic career at T.C. Williams School of Law (or do you prefer University of Richmond?) did you decide you wanted to practice in your particular area?

Partner: Hmm …. ummm …. yeah.

J. Crew Model: Thanks for your time. We’ll be in touch.
Feb Club – Forget for a second that NGSL runs this (see above) or that other schools have done this before and others do it currently. We all know that our Feb Club is the best and most prestigious and most fun. Where else are you going to have a party for the law school on a Tuesday? And if you didn’t make it because you were doing other things, there’s a helpful blog to show you how much fun you missed (a picture of someone dressed up like Tarzan is worth 1000 words). Here’s how to guarantee your sweet off-campus house with a painted beer pong table hosts a Feb Club party.
1. Make sure you don’t mind trashing your house. Checking with roommates/neighbors/landlords optional.
2. Throw around some ideas, including an inside joke or 5. Converses and knee high socks and headbands! Edward from Twilight and red wine!
3. Pick your theme as though you lived on a tropical island. This guarantees that your party will become an exercise in huddling together for warmth because "3 Easy Pieces" and "Tropical Dude Island" are such great theme ideas no matter what month it is. Remember people, February is only 4 months away from summer months and 4 rounds down to 0 so that means its summer.
Justincredible weighs in (because co-op columns – like co-op campaigns in Gears of War 2 – are very Virginia Law Weekly):
3Ls hooking up with 1Ls – Taking advantage of innocent and naïve 1Ls is awesome. Of course this isn’t high school (or even undergrad) and the school is filled with grown ass 25-30 year olds, but let’s pretend the stereotype of the upperclassman swooping up the nubile(!) underclassman is as rampant as ever.

IMAGINE: some older law students (not all – remember law school students are awkward and unattractive) are occasionally engaging in consensual sexual relations with other less old (but still old) law students. If you were serious about picking up the young and innocent, you’d be at Coupe’s creeping it around with me, or at least driving an ice cream truck.

Gunners are sooo lam
e – Not studying for law school is the coolest, and we should all like totally relax and just chill at UVA. Forgetting of course that:

(1) we are dropping 45k to come to this school and “not study” and
(2) you, yourself, are probably a gunner in some regard,

if you go above and beyond to write for a newspaper, belong to a journal/do moot court/government body/student group, you are gunning. Except instead of being totally lame and keeping your nose in a book (and getting a job), you are wasting time on stupid things that will have absolutely no positive impact on your future (except for memories of how much ass you kicked in law school). Everyone here is gunning for something: grades, friends, prestige, huge muscles, etc. Come see me get my swell on at the gym and I’ll show you a gunner (and blasted glutes).
Time to sum up. I sincerely love UVA Law and I know (KNOW) in my heart of hearts that this is the best law school in the country. (Did you guys also know I’m running for SBA to pad my resume despite the fact that no student government has ever done anything substantive? Ok, great.) I’ve had a blast every minute that wasn’t within 6 weeks of exams or since the economy tanked last October. Or since I figured out it was full of social climbing twats compensating for tragic character and/or physical flaws (Rule 12(f) won't let me list them). I sincerely care about each and every one of you, so long as I have a “better” job than you and you don’t park in my parking spot. Now for some sweet day drinking.

JCrewModel@uvalawblog.com

Al Groh Gives Mincer's Discount, Pt. 2

We went to Mincer's on the corner right as it opened and the place was packed, with people quickly scouring all the good merchandise - including the trendy shorts! - the line stretched through the entire store and out the door 15 minutes after opening:

Thanks to Al Groh, Mincer's was so packed this morning that we couldn't even take a clear picture!

Luckily, the discount is still available online if you order today. Maybe we should schedule more big ten opponents - then the Cavs could score big and really run up the discount.

Previously:
Al Groh Delivers Mincer's Discount; UVA Law Blog Wins Pulitzer

Sunday, October 11, 2009

10月10日隨即的事情:Groh Delivers Mincer's Discount; UVA Law Blog Wins Pulitzer

Al Groh - great football coach or greatest football coach? All we know is that the store Mincers on the corner gives a discount percentage equal to the number of points that the Cavaliers scored. Yesterday, the 'Hoos rocked the Hoosiers 47-7. Weirdly, the Cavaliers (2-3, 1-0 ACC) are tied for first in their half of the division. We were at the game, and aside from the idiots shouting "not gay" every five minutes (literally how often UVA was scoring) both the team and the school looked good. FACT: Al Groh merely has to win the rest of the ACC games, and UVA will be in a BCS game. I'm going to book my flight to Miami now, just to be safe . . .

Jameel Sewell may not attend class, but he threw for over 300 yards yesterday, and rushed for a TD as well. With those kinds of numbers, who needs school?

Anyway, if you want get those stylish UVA mesh shorts for under 35 bucks, now's your chance!

UVA Law Blog has won the Pulitzer Prize! Of course the award was given not on the basis of anything that we have actually written, but rather as a result of our stated intention to produce the highest caliber of ground-breaking writing in the next year - don't worry though, we'll be donating the prize money to charity . . .

*雙十節!Yesterday, the Republic of China "marked" the 98th anniversary of its independence. The term is "marked" instead of "celebrated", because the Chinese government decided that instead of having a lavish celebration and parade as they had in years past, they would use the money that it would have spent on the festivities to help victims of the Morakot Typhoon, which killed almost 700 people. We support this. Maybe Obama should have canceled his inauguration and used the millions of dollars saved to help those who need it - - but then we would have had to go to school that day.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Dean Mahoney Responds to Eskridge's Allegations

EDIT: And Professor Eskridge has now responded to Dean Mahoney [Above the Law]

Brian Leiter reports Dean Mahoney's response to Professor Eskridge's allegations:

... [Professor Eskridge] was not actually denied tenure, but was deferred for future consideration, a common procedure at the time. The faculty wished to see the fruits of his promising, but nascent, scholarly interest in legislation before granting tenure. His subsequent scholarship in that area was highly successful and influential, and he would certainly have received tenure at Virginia had he not resigned to accept a lateral offer from Georgetown.

People who were on our faculty at the time of these events deny that Professor Eskridge’s sexual orientation played any role. Many were unaware of it. And they emphatically deny the specific conversations Professor Eskridge recounts.

Mahoney followed with a pargraph discussing the importance of diversity at the Law School and noting that "relations among straight, gay and lesbian professors have always been warm and supportive." Leiter seems to agree with the gist of Mahoney's statement:

I will just add that Dean Mahoney's statement is consistent with what I have heard on various occasions from others familiar with these events and with the state of Professor Eskridge's scholarship at the time of the decision to defer.

We wonder if Eskridge will engage this at all, or simply let what he said before Congress speak for itself.

Previously:
Did Homophobia Cause a Law School Professor to Jet?
Law Weekly On Eskridge's Denial of Tenure

Friday, October 02, 2009

Law Weekly: "Prof. Stanley Henderson, who chairs the Appointments Committee, said student criticism of recent tenure recommendations 'hurts'"

Following a previous story, Did Homophobia Cause a Law School Professor to Jet? --

Every time there's a major controversy about something that happened in the past, there's a good chance that the Law Weekly was on it. The imbroglio stirred by Professor Bill Eskridge's testimony before Congress last week - where he argued in favor of passing the ENDA of 2009 and alleged that the Law School denied him tenure because he is gay - is no exception. Consistent with the Law Weekly's policy, we have reproduced the article in full:
How the Law School Tenure Game is Played
By Greg Giammittorio
Virginia Law Weekly
Friday, January 31, 1986
Last semester on two separate occasions the Law School's 42 tenured faculty met to decide whether or not they would ask the Office of the Provost to confer tenure on Assistant Professors William Eskridge and Gary Peller. Each case was reviewed individually. Both could have received a positive recommendation, but one did not. That one was William Eskrdige, and his decision subsequently led to an outbreak of student dissent and unhappiness which Law School Dean Richard Merrill characterized as "substantial."
On December 3 [1985] Dean Merrill picked up the phone to call then out-of-town Professor Eskridge and tell him that instead of tenure, the faculty, upon the recommendation of the Appointments Committee, had voted to recommend a reappointment for either two or three years.
"Eskridge is the finest classroom professor I've ever had and the best prepared," said one student who disagreed with the faculty's decision. "It's not by chance that there's always a line of students outside his door. The Law School missed a great opportunity . . . they'll be extremely lucky if he decides not to leave and go elsewhere."
Merrill's phone call was the culmination of an arduous Law School screening process, the workings of which are somewhat shrouded in mystery. One year before this formal process starts the candidates are advised by a small group of colleagues. They undergo a mock analysis that offers feedback and provides suggestions to help prepare them for their upcoming candidacy.
The actual tenure assessment procedure begins when the Dean and the Appointments Committee Chairman assemble a subcommittee of four tenured faculty whose job, according to Appointments Committee Chair Stanley Henderson, is to "thoroughly examine the candidates entire record of affiliation with the Law School." The Subcommittee's investigation focuses on three areas: scholarship, teaching, and service to institution. Teaching is reviewed primarily by interviewing students and sitting in on the candidate's classes. Tenured faculty review scholarship by personally critiquing all published and unpublished academic writings. They judge service to institution by examining a vast array of things which include academic interaction with colleagues, the candidate's reactions to criticism and suggestions, intellectual conversations, and willingness to critique others' work. Basically, as Henderson described it, "it includes anything that shows how good a player[sic] one is at doing jobs that need to be done. The candidate and the candidate's record are going to have to be sufficient tow in the respect of the tenured faculty."
Dean Merrill estimated that the elements are roughly weighted - "40 percent scholarship, 40 percent teaching, 20 percent service to institution." However, each faculty voter is free to weigh any element as they see fit.
After a subcommittee report is drafted, it is transferred without recommendation to both the 11 member faculty, including Henderson, Abraham, Dooley, Kitch, Kneeder, Levmore, Lilly, Merrill, Ravenell, R. Scott, and Wadlington. That report, says the Administration is privileged information. At the Appointments Committee level the candidate is discussed and a second report including a recommendation is drafted and sent to each faculty voter. This too is off limits to students. The candidate, however, is free to request a copy of both reports. At this point in the candidacy, on November 23, Assistant Professor William Eskridge was invited to Merrill's office where both the Dean and Chairman Henderson told him the recommendation had not been in favor of tenure. Henderson called the decision one of "substantial agreement."
Shortly thereafter, disgruntled students began drafting unsolicited letters and petitions. According to Dean Merril, comments came from "the Law Review and three journals, the Legal Assistance Society, the Law Women, and the Student Funded Fellowships." Merrill said letters were also received from SBA President John Moore "and satisfied clients of the Clerkship Committee," which Eskridge had chaired.
Henderson indicated that he read the letters and they then "became part of Eskridge's file," which was "passed on to the (tenured) faculty."
Finally, according to Merrill, "three hours of intense, frank, and yet sympathetic discussion took place among the entire voting faculty. The result, wrote Merril in answer to Moore, was the faculty's' decision to "recommend appointment so that [tenure] could be examined when the record was more complete than at the present time." Though the Law School rules make it clear that the decision necessarily passed by at least a majority vote, Merril decline to disclose the final tally.
Many students were shocked by the decision. One student described her reaction as, "What, are you serious? What is going on here?" Ben Tompkins, a third-year student in Eskridge's Legislation class, mirrored several students' response when he said, "Everyone expected him to get it - among students."

There is almost universal agreement that Eskridge has, in the words of the Appointments Committee member Graham Lilly "a significant teaching strength." Lily also noted that it was not surprising that students would protest the decision because teaching is "the only point of interface [students have] with the candidate."

Although Merril admits that "There has never been doubt that Professor Eskridge is a very fine teacher," he hinted that the problem in fact lay somewhere else. The Provost tenure policy reads, "In research, there should be evidence of a body of work of sufficient quality and quantity which has produced at least the beginning of a national reputation for significant and creative contributions to the candidates field of research, and there should be evidence of continued growth." "This is a high standard," wrote Merrill. "The tenured faculty were not collectively prepared to conclude that Professor Eskridge yet had reach it, though it will not surprise you that some would have voted to recommend tenure had a decision on this issue been essential yesterday.

Henderson added that there were "positive and negative things in all three categories, as it is with almost every candidate the principal was scholarship."

However, some students, who asked not to be identified, began to think, as one said, "there's got to be something going on here." They say that Eskrdige's scholarship is substantial and of a high calibre. To explain the decision, they point to the formation of political factions among the professors. Two reasons Eskridge's candidacy failed, they contend, are personality conflicts fueled by contrasting styles and a growing number of vocal Law and Economics professors with whose theories Eskridge sometimes conflicts.

Henderson admitted that he too had heard student rumors of political design, but said "that this is what the case is about is absolutely false." Lilly, said, "it just turns out that we do have quite a few [law and economics people], but we have more outside [that camp] than in." He characterized the student allegations as "not well taken." He noted that the faculty was too "diverse" and "there's too much individuality of mind."

"A conscious effort is made to achieve balance on both the subcommittee and the committee," said Henderson. "Ideological homogeny has not adversely affected any tenure candidate, including Professor Eskridge. I can't remember a case with more due process, fairness considerations." If students think we would operate otherwise, he said, "that hurts a lot."

Henderson said he agreed that there are difficulties when forty-two people try to ascertain if someone is going to achieve a national reputation. "The principal audience [of the candidates work] is people here," he said. "They read it and reread it. It is a problem, but a universal problem." However, he noted, "the faculty here know lots of people, have lots of conversations. Word gets around when one is doing good work. There are pretty clear ways of knowing people are developing a national reputation. Internally, we are very well equipped to evaluate, but we do go outside. The evaluation doesn't end up skewed or flawed because it's done by our own people." Newly tenured Professor Gary Peller, however, said the process is "subjective."

Dean Merrill stated, "Reappointment wouldn't have been offered without high hopes of [Eskridge's future] success," and "if professor Eskridge accepts reappointment - - we will all be beneficiaries." Lilly commented that "keeping Professor Eskrdige was a decision that he was a positive contributor and is likely to continue to be one."

Regardless of Eskridge's future, though, this decision has created a rupture as to the fairness of the tenure procedure. Some students now believe that the Administration "should open the process up to student scrutiny. Students should have access to the reports of the committees."

Technically, there has been no final determination of Eskridge's case, though the Law School's deliberations have ended. The Dean's office will not transfer the report containing the recommendation to the Provost until the February first deadline.

Further, Dean Merrill pointed out that Provost has overturned some schools' recommendations. But Henderson noted that Provost has not overturned a Law School tenure decision since he has been here. He joined the faculty in 1970.

Professor Eskridge would not comment on whether he would attempt to appeal the decision or on any other matter relating to the story, except that he was aware that he could request copies of the subcommittee and committee report. He has, in fact, asked for both.

A substantially different plan for avoiding future students outbreaks in similar situations was offered by Gary Peller. "The creation of hierarchies," he said, is not conducive to the communal spirit of the institution. No one or everyone should have tenure."
So there you have it - sorry for the typos. Some interesting points is that the homosexuality issue is not mentioned (although Eskridge did say that he was not "out" at the time), although the issue of politics is (it's not the first time the "Law and Economics" camp has been the source of controversy). There's no mention of the spitting incident, either, although it's clear that plenty of students were upset about the denial of tenure alone. There's a good deal of focus on the significance of Eskridge's publications, which he defends in his testimony.

Previously:
Did Homophobia at the Law School Cause a Professor to Jet?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Did Homophobia at the Law School Cause a Professor to Jet?

Maybe the history of homophobia at the Law School - gone now, of course! - didn't start and end with the students.

William (Bill) Eskridge is a law professor at Yale who teaches Constitutional Law, Legislation, and Sexuality, Gender, and the Law, but he used to teach at Virginia back in the 1980s. Mr. Eskridge is gay. And last week, he gave testimony (opens a .doc file) to the House Committee on Education and Labor on the pending Employment and Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, which would "bar sexual orientation and sexual orientation and gender identiy discrimination in the workplace by states as well as by private employers." According to Mr. Eskrdige, the ENDA is a proper exercise of Congress's authority 14th Amendment . . .

Why is this law needed? Well for one thing, Mr. Eskridge alleges that the Law School denied him tenure because he is gay:
For an example explained in my statement, I was denied tenure at the University of Virginia School of Law in 1985 based in part on my sexual orientation. The hysterical behavior and deployment of anti-gay epithets by key state officials indicates that the decision was influenced by anti-gay prejudice. The inability of state officials to explain their decision without engaging in libel underlines the irrationality of the state discrimination and its vulnerability to equal protection attack.

Pretty serious accusation right? Well the man is talking before Congress - let him speak: what follows is a summary from Mr. Eskridge's testimony (from Hunter of Justice), but I urge you all to read the whole thing if you are interested. It's scathing.

Starting in Fall Term 1982, I was an assistant professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, one of the most prominent state institutions of higher learning about law in the United States. My time there was both happy and productive . . . .

I am not aware of any junior faculty member at Virginia’s School of Law who had as extensive a publication record as I had when I came up for tenure in academic year 1985-86. Although I was gay and was dating men in Washington, DC during my tenure at Virginia, I was never publicly “out,” largely because I thought that such a status would be lethal for tenure purposes; from time to time, I heard snide anti-homosexual comments from senior faculty . . .

My understanding was that the subcommittee’s [extremely positive report recommending tenure] was supposed to serve as the factual record for the Appointments Committee to consider in making its tenure recommendation to the faculty. Before my case, the Appointments Committee had generally included at least one faculty member who was also on the subcommittee, and the report was always accepted as the primary basis for the final recommendation. In my case, however, there was no overlap of personnel, and the Appointments Committee wrote its own report, apparently the first time that happened under this bifurcated system. … According to faculty colleagues, the committee’s meeting was an emotional one, filled with tension and anxiety.

The morning after the committee’s negative meeting, I remained unaware of the committee’s recommendations and of its substantive objections. Apparently, other senior faculty members became aware of the committee’s negative leanings and the fact that the committee had kept me in completely in the dark and was not following the procedures that had been duly established by the faculty. While I sat in my office preparing for class that morning, stormy conversations were apparently occurring at various parts of the law school’s building. Late in the morning, as I was finishing up my class preparation, the chair of the committee stormed into my office and screamed at me for 10 minutes or so. With clenched fists and a beet-red face, the chair of the committee threw a tantrum that included a string of accusations, such as “stabbing me in the back” and behaving in the treacherous manner that he and his colleagues ought to have expected of a “faggot.”

Apparently, the chair thought I had complained to the dean that he had been derelict in following the established law school procedures and that I was sneaking behind his back to discredit him. In fact, I remained utterly clueless as to what those procedures were and was reduced to tears as the chair of the committee spat on me and called me dirty names. During this tirade, the chair of the committee never shared with me his committee’s reasons, their recommendation, or the news that I had a right to appear before the committee. Nor did he share this information with me thereafter. (Nor did he apologize for unfairly screaming at me, spitting on me, or calling me a “faggot.”) . . .

After the committee’s report was ratified by the faculty, blood was in the water. For the remainder of my tenure at the University of Virginia School of Law, I was harassed on a regular basis by faculty colleagues and parts of the law school’s administration. Several faculty friends and at least one member of the committee explicitly urged me to get out of Charlottesville as quickly as possible, partly because there was so much hatred toward me on the faculty and partly just for my own mental sanity and physical safety (during the tirade by the chair of the committee, I believed that he was going to assault me). So I visited at the Georgetown University Law Center in academic year 1987-88 and accepted a permanent position there in 1988. . . .

. . . I did secure a copy in January 1986 and found that the committee’s report was built on a series of fabrications and factual misrepresentations. . . . [See testimony for more]
Wow, just wow. Who was the chair of this committee? (Mr. Eskrdige does not "name names," I imagine because doing so would not serve his cause.) In any event, shame on the Law School if his allegations are true. From reviewing Mr. Eskridge's accomplishments, its seems like the Law School lost a great scholar.

Thanks to Hunter of Justice and an anonymous tipster for bringing this to our attention.

Related:
Homophobia at UVA Law School Circa 1985 [Hunter of Justice]
Gay Students Attacked at Foxfields [Law Weekly]