Wait…WHAT? Where Does A Law School Get Off Ordering Students Not To Talk About George Clooney’s Wife?

Of course, Columbia could order Amal from not dressing like this, but that would be outrageous.

Of course, Columbia could order Amal from not dressing like this, but that would be outrageous.

Every day, I am more amazed that I got through my formal education without being suspended, expelled or arrested.

From the New York Times:

At 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Amal Clooney walked into Classroom 103 in William and June Warren Hall at Columbia Law School. The human rights lawyer and wife of the actor George Clooney …was by herself, far from the tangle of paparazzi who gather outside the Carlyle hotel, where the couple are staying while Mr. Clooney is in town making “Money Monster,” a film directed by Jodie Foster and co-starring Julia Roberts. Ms. Clooney, 37, greeted a man preparing slides for the class in human rights for which she is a guest lecturer this spring. As she spoke, passers-by peeked at her through the sliver of glass in the door. If anyone had thoughts to share about Ms. Clooney, they weren’t talking.

“We are under strict orders not to discuss her or anything about her class,” said a student who declined to give her name. A representative from the law school politely asked a reporter to leave.

What? WHAT? Columbia University can’t “order” students not to talk about a professor! How did they get the idea that they could, or that it was appropriate to try? Of course, Columbia of late has shown less than a sterling respect for the values of academic freedom and the Bill of Rights. Still, this is pure abuse of power.

WHAT? What kind of jello-spined, ignorant, submissive worm are they admitting to Columbia who would accept such outrageous “strict orders”? [ Well, we do have some strong indications…] I couldn’t care less about Ms. Clooney, but if my law school said that to me, I’d hold a press conference.

WHAT? Why  does this woman, who voluntarily thrust herself into the limelight, warrant special privileges that justify restricting a law school’s students right to talk about anything they want to?

University classes have been taught for more than a century by men and women with far more impressive accomplishments and greater fame than Amal Clooney. Shouldn’t Columbia be combating celebrity culture rather than catering to it?

Any students who meekly accept such restrictions on their speech and autonomy are too craven to be trusted to practice law, and no institution that would demand such restrictions should be trusted to teach them.


Pointer: Above the Law

Facts: New York Times

7 thoughts on “Wait…WHAT? Where Does A Law School Get Off Ordering Students Not To Talk About George Clooney’s Wife?

  1. It’s a private school, they can kick you out at any time for any reason or no reason, and that’s a pretty powerful incentive to keep your mouth shut.

    • While yes, they have an absolute right to do so as a private organization, it should be **impossible** to do so while maintaining any sort of dignity or esteem in the public’s eye or among peer institutions.

      Academic freedom, especially the ability to criticize without fear of academic or professional retaliation, is a fundamental value in American higher education. So flagrant a violation by Columbia must not go without comment by students, faculty, partner institutes; Even Columbia’s basic academic accreditation ought to be put at risk by such disregard for educational norms.

      That no one is even commenting, let alone condemning, is horrifying…

  2. They are also subject to the whims of a free market. I have no doubt that Colombia is an excellent school, with a good reputation, but if it has no or few students, that will matter little. But, unless the current crop of law students decide they prefer an education in the law rather than how to abuse Constitutional rights, that is unlikely to happen.

  3. I’m sorry, but I make fun of Columbia in one of my classes. There is a clip of a Columbia grad student (I hope that isn’t a professor) trying to give a lecture on quantum mechanics to non-science majors. He strips down to his underwear and skewers stuffed animals with samurai swords while projecting footage of the 9/11 attacks (the typical teaching method at Columbia?). Then he tells them that quantum mechanics is too difficult for them and they won’t be able to understand it. I tell my students not to worry, they will be able to understand it. They aren’t Columbia Students.

    I know people have defended this teaching method, but I think they are idiots. Watch the video and listen to the comments of the students. They aren’t in a mood to learn anything, they are just giggling about the lecturer in his underwear and the bizarreness. Telling students something is too hard for them to understand and then trying to explain it to them is a terrible technique, you just gave them every excuse in the world NOT to try to understand it. I hoped this wasn’t typical of Columbia University, but I am getting the impression it is.

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