"Where Are We—in Moscow in 1953 …?"

A sobering article about the allegations and counter-allegations related to Prof. Amy Chua's supposedly having students over for forbidden gatherings.

|

From N.Y. Times (Sarah Lyall & Stephanie Saul):

On March 26, a group of students at Yale Law School approached the dean's office with an unusual accusation: Amy Chua, one of the school's most popular but polarizing professors, had been hosting drunken dinner parties with students, and possibly federal judges, during the pandemic…. [Prof. Chua] has a reputation for unfiltered, boundary-pushing behavior, and in 2019 agreed not to drink or socialize with students outside of class. Her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, also a law professor, is virtually persona non grata on campus, having been suspended from teaching for two years after an investigation into accusations that he had committed sexual misconduct.

The dinner parties, the students said, appeared to violate Ms. Chua's no-socializing agreement …. The students provided what they said was proof of the dinners, in the form of a dossier featuring secretly screen-shotted text messages between a second-year student and two friends who had attended….

At the law school, the episode has exposed bitter divisions in a top-ranked institution struggling to adapt at a moment of roiling social change. Students regularly attack their professors, and one another, for their scholarship, professional choices and perceived political views….

[Dean Hether] Gerken's critics in the faculty worry that she acted too hastily in the Chua matter [in requiring that Chua step aside from teaching a small first-year class -EV], prioritizing students' concerns over a professor's rights.

Particularly problematic, several professors said in interviews, was her reliance on the text-message dossier, prepared by a student who learned that two of his friends had gone to Ms. Chua's house — and believed that the visits made them complicit in her, and [her husband] Mr. Rubenfeld's, behavior…. Ms. Gerken referred to the dossier at an April 21 faculty meeting as evidence of Ms. Chua's misconduct. Several professors who saw the material said in interviews that they were shocked at how unpersuasive it was.

"Evidence of what?" one asked. Another called it "tattletale espionage."

"Where are we — in Moscow in 1953, when children were urged to report on their parents and siblings?" the professor said.

NEXT: "Police Chief Charged With Civil Rights Violation" for Threatening Criminal Charges over Critical Posts

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Ahh, progress.

    1. All PC is case. This is 100% the fault of the scumbag lawyer profession. I hope to persuade Prof. V that we have round up the 25000 traitors in the lawyer hierarchy, try them an hour, and execute them in the court basement, to save our nation.

      These are all adults. The snitches need an ass kicking. There is no talking. The administrators listening to them and acting on their information need to be driven from this country.

      I have been banned for linking to this book on Amazon. I hope that does not happen here. Goddam, it has been removed from Amazon.

      Try it here.

      https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/feminist-accused-of-sexual-harassment-jane-gallop/1102082630

      1. Why is snitching encouraged? It generates investigations, interviews, meetings to decide, trials, the adversarial system, and worthless lawyer make work. This is a type of fraud.

    2. What goes around comes around. No place should know that better than Yale.

      Full disclosure: I was a member of the Yale faculty for 3 years (but that was decades ago).

      1. Explains a lot now. Yale needs to be defunded and shut down. So many damaging and toxic ideas and people have come there.

        1. Behar,
          It explains nothing. If you think that Yale has not changed in 35 years, you are comatose.

  2. What is “forbidden” when Chua agreed (in 2019)?

  3. An interesting hers-and-his episode of Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes.

    1. Hi, Artie. We are coming for you dirty Commie traitors. Good time to shop the Caracas apartment.

    2. “An interesting hers-and-his episode of Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes.”

      Stupid games being writing politically disfavored op-eds in the NYT and supporting disfavored SCOTUS candidates, apparently.

      1. Telling students to keep house visits quiet, after agreeing to his-and-hers leashes associated with misconduct investigations involving students, seems a stupid game.

        The Kozinski-Kavanaugh connection (with nepotism cluster) doesn’t help. This is Yale, not the Federalist Society or Liberty.

        1. “The Kozinski-Kavanaugh connection (with nepotism cluster) doesn’t help.”

          What are you talking about? She’s not related to Kavanaugh.

          1. You are not familiar with the ‘favored treatment’ arrangements (some of which involve government jobs, not all of which are necessarily public) featuring Kavanaugh, Kozinski, and Chua (and others)?

            Nepotism does not require a blood or marriage relationship. It merely requires power of position and weakness of character.

            1. re: “Nepotism does not require a blood or marriage relationship.”

              Yeah, it does. It’s right there in the definition. Handing out jobs to non-family is called patronage.

              1. “Yeah, it does. It’s right there in the definition. Handing out jobs to non-family is called patronage.”

                Handing out jobs is called hiring, unless there’s evidence of wrongdoing.

                1. Handing out jobs also refers to handing out promotions. That is not hiring. But it certainly can be corrupt

              2. When I aim my Google-compatible device at “nepotism,” this is the result:

                Dictionary
                Search for a word
                nep·o·tism
                /ˈnepəˌtizəm/
                Learn to pronounce
                noun
                the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.

                1. Still no evidence, eh?

      2. If you think this is revenge for a NYT article from years ago, you’re got culture war on the brain.

        1. The witchhunt against Rubenfeld is revenge for the NYT article. I mean, I don’t know that, but it’s as good an explanation as any.

          Given the “Dossier” of text messages being used to support the latter claims, one explanation we can rule out is that Yale is acting in good faith.

          1. It could be the thing they said it was. Generally that’s as good an explanation as any, not some persecution scenario that requires a critical mass of students who read the NYT and get big mad about it.

            Shitty evidence is not evidence of bad faith. Plus, there’s plenty of evidence of them being boundary-pushing weirdos with their students. Also doing good stuff for them, but…

            Rubenfeld embraced the role of boy genius turned provocateur. In class, he liked prolonged eye contact, Socratic cold calls, and edgy hypotheticals. He’d studied at Juilliard and would often dramatically exit the room at the end of a lecture. Says a colleague, “He thrives on the understanding of the classroom as an eroticized place, where there’s this kind of thrill of engaging in risky exploration about ideas that’s continuous with risky exploration of all kinds of boundary transgressions.”

            Around the time the Obama administration began pushing universities to crack down on sexual misconduct, in 2011, Rubenfeld began to explore new terrain: critiquing rape law. “The Riddle of Rape-by-Deception and the Myth of Sexual Autonomy” appeared in the Yale Law Journal in 2013, and the topic preoccupied him in class, too.

            “He would give these examples that started out being sort of okay and take it further and further. He asked if it was okay to penetrate a baby,” a student who was in his small group in fall 2014 tells me. “Then he said, ‘You use a spoon to feed a baby.’ ” One of her classmates stared at him blankly when he did this, but she decided she would push back. “I think he liked it when people engaged in the lunacy of his arguments,” she says.

            1. “It could be the thing they said it was. Generally that’s as good an explanation as any, not some persecution scenario that requires a critical mass of students who read the NYT and get big mad about it.”

              I’m going with the “critical mass of students who read the NYT and get big mad about it.” I have a tough time believing there wouldn’t be a critical mass of students who read the NYT and get big mad.

              “Plus, there’s plenty of evidence of them being boundary-pushing weirdos with their students.”

              That’s what professors are supposed to be.

  4. The accusation appears to be based on some fink unsuccessfully trying to get his buddy to rat her out:

    “It is a curious document. Among other things, the aggrieved student’s text messages show him repeatedly asking one of the friends to admit to meeting judges there, and the friend repeatedly denying it. (“if you promise to keep it between us, i’ll tell you — it was Chief Justice John Marshall,” the friend finally texts, in an exasperated reference to the long-deceased jurist.)”

    1. The accusation seems to have been based on foolish, sketchy conduct . . . and to have precipitated a resignation.

      1. What’s amazing is how fast you fell in line with the goose steppers.

        1. Which goose steppers?

          The Statists For Superstition-Based Government Womb Management?

          The “Papers, Please” White Nativists?

          The Republican Drug Warriors?

          The Right-Wing Providers Of Slobbering Succor To Abusive Police Officers?

          The Clingers For Government Gay-Bashing?

          The Right-Wingers For Qualified Immunity?

          The Conservatives For Torture And Endless Detention Without Trial?

          The Republican Vote Suppressors?

      2. What resignation? And has Yale presented any evidence of foolish, sketchy conduct?

        As head of the church of exalted reason, surely you know that that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

        1. Did Prof. Chua not resign her position as advisor to one of Yale’s “small groups” after her conduct reached the dean’s desk? Perhaps I misunderstood that point, but the dean’s statement seemed to indicate that Prof. Chua resigned rather than sought to preserve that position.

          1. “Did Prof. Chua not resign her position as advisor to one of Yale’s “small groups” after her conduct reached the dean’s desk?”

            What conduct? The seance with CJ Marshall? You and Dean Gerken are free to believe in that stuff if you wish, but you shouldn’t expect better people to indulge you.

            1. I gather you have abandoned your “What resignation?” and moved on toward another reflexive ‘clingers-got-to-stick-together’ defense.

              1. “I gather you have abandoned your “What resignation?” and moved on toward another reflexive ‘clingers-got-to-stick-together’ defense.”

                You made it clear that you were referring to declining an assignment as a resignation. It’s not, but I’m not going to nit-pick when you’re spouting so much actual bullshit that’s more worthy of attention.

    2. Yes, from the article it doesn’t seem like there’s any real evidence that anything inappropriate happened. My guess is that the dean was annoyed by previous shenanigans by Chua and didn’t actually do much of an investigation, but it also doesn’t seem like Chua pushed back much.

      Nonetheless, it’s a pretty bad look for Yale Law all around.

  5. Who cares about Yale law school? Is there a point here? A private institution with a private fan club, employing private persons to teach some pretty simple bullshit for what is pointedly overpriced tuition. Can’t this blog find substantive matters?

    Lawyers are a bit lame, but law students are quite irrelevant as are their professors.

    1. Yale is not a private institution, it’s funded mainly by the government.

  6. This is getting tired, but I have to trot this out again.

    There’s a meme picture floating around of a guy sitting with his arms crossed in a sea of men heil Hitlering. How brave he is to stick to his convictions. “I like to think I’d be just like him in that situation! I know I would!”

    No. You’d be like the Nazis, joyously going around with your self-righteous behavior of enforcers and the power kick it gives you.

    Evidence? You are all doing it now on campuses.

    “I see fascist people. They don’t even know they’re fascist.”

  7. Yale has this long history of unctuous, oleaginous Administrators ever since my days there. Good to see nothing has changed in the last fifty years.

  8. ” Good to see nothing has changed in the last fifty years. ”

    Yale might have moved up or down a notch or two — up to first, down to fourth, up to second, and such — periodically, with respect to certain national or international rankings.

  9. All this anti-Asian hate is depressing.

  10. And if it is Moscow 1953 (whatever that means specifically), what are you going to do about it?

    Is it worth resisting totalitarianism if the price is mean tweets? Or some policy that you only 40 or 60% agree with? Or if the blue-check Twitter mobs name-call you?

    What if some principle is somehow, arguably, not perfectly adhered to and (gasp!) someone points it out? Give up and acquiesce to whatever totalitarians want instead because they control the structures?

    Just wondering.

  11. I’m sure the students who prepared the dossier are proud of what they have done, so why not make their names public? That way all judges and other potential employers will know what stalwart Red Guard students they are.

  12. Am I the only one who is troubled by the analogy between students and children? (And professors and parents?) Just because American universities provide their students with room and board, doesn’t make them children.

    1. “provide”
      More like “demand large amounts of money through residency requirements”. At my own university first year students have to either stay with family or on campus and the cost to stay on campus is greater than tuition and fees. Students get no choice in where they stay (so maybe you’ll stay in the dorm barely updated since 1950; one only recently decommissioned was using cast-iron radiators), the food sucks, and you get a roommate you might hate.

    2. But on your actual point, yes, it’s disturbing but it seems to be a trend to treat undergraduates as children.

  13. If Professor Chua were to sue Yale University for racial discrimination, then if what the NYT article is saying, I don’t see how she could fail to win

    The messages that Dean Gerkin relied on weren’t textual. They were pretextual.

    It seems to me that accusations this blatantly pretextual – people trying to get people to say something that they state up front isn’t true – can’t possibly have any legitimate purpose. Their underlying reason has to be discriminatory.

    If Yale wants to settle, I would suggest that any settlement insure that both the ringleading students and Dean Gerkin aren’t in a position to engage in any further harassment, e.g. no ability to contact or make any decisions affecting either faculty or students, and barred from campus.

    I generally favor live and let live, and in another world I’s encourage everyone to stop worrying so much and go home. But that doesn’t give obvious perpetrators of discrimination the right to walk over one. If the “evidence” behind a personnel decision appears blatantly manufactured, as the NYT article alleges it was in this case, it is very likely being manufactured as a camouflage for discrimination.

Please to post comments