Well, well, well, if it isn’t the consequences of Yale’s own actions.
At least allegedly.
Way back in July, I noted disturbing rumblings about Yale Law School penalizing the students involved in the latest Amy Chua controversy. Chua, who reportedly agreed to stop meeting students at her house while her husband and fellow professor Jed Rubenfeld served his two-year suspension following a sexual harassment inquiry, got yanked from a mentoring group role when it came out that she’d had a pair of students over.
Penalizing Chua would make sense under those facts. Going after the students who were just looking for help from a grown-ass professor who should have known better defied the sort of traditional theorizations of the philosophy of justice that Yale Law teaches in lieu of how to actually practice law.
Apparently Yale has now entered the “find out” stage of this equation, with the students going ahead and filing suit over the treatment they say they received during this ordeal. The students were asked to rat out Chua after the “dossier” including screenshots of their communications went public. And when they didn’t because, you know, that’s not their job…
The plaintiffs say that, rather than helping the students, “[Associate Dean Ellen] Cosgrove and [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director Yaseen] Eldik ratcheted up the pressure,” the suit states. “On a joint call including Cosgrove, Eldik, and Jane, Eldik told Jane that the Dossier would likely end up in ‘every judges’ chambers,’ ‘following [her] even after [she] graduates,’ effectively sabotaging any hopes of her securing a clerkship whether she applied now or in the future.”
In a joint call with John Doe, “Eldik and Cosgrove strongly suggested that John should not apply for a clerkship in the summer of 2021 because of the Dossier’s wide publicity,” the suit states.
That’s from the New Haven Register.
Admins telling students that their careers are on the line if they don’t volunteer to help the school deal with its own professors feels very intimidating. Eldik is the same administrator who whiffed on the recent “trap house” controversy by asking for a boilerplate apology even though real penalties are more appropriate when recognized student groups actively use racial stereotypes in official statements. The students in the Chua case were at best passive participants in the professor’s mistake!
The lawsuit goes on to allege that Dean Heather Gerken and Cosgrove “approached an esteemed law professor and expert in constitutional law, and discouraged the professor — who already employed Jane and John as long-term research assistants — from hiring Jane and John as so-called ‘Coker Fellows,’ prestigious teaching assistant positions that often lead to federal clerkships and other lucrative career opportunities.” If this is true, this would very much amount to retaliation against the students.
Yale claims it’s going to “offer a vigorous defense.” Not sure they’re going to like how those depositions might turn out.
On the other hand, making strategic blunders seems to be Yale’s whole thing these days.
Above the Law columnist John G. Balestriere represents the student plaintiffs. I’ve had no contact with him regarding this case.
Yale law students sue, claiming they were blackballed for not lying about Amy Chua [New Haven Register]
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.