David Lat on Yale Law Dean’s Comments on the March 10 Incident
March 29, 2022 | Tags: free speech, REASON
From his Original Jurisdiction today, an excerpt (though the whole thing is much worth reading):
Here's what the policy—which Dean Gerken never quotes from in her message, oddly enough—actually provides: (1) "a university event, activity, or its regular or essential operations may not be disrupted"; (2) protesters "may not interfere with a speaker's ability to speak or attendees' ability to attend, listen and hear"; and (3) "[s]itting in or otherwise occupying a building in a way that blocks access or otherwise interferes with university events or operations" is not permitted.
The March 10 protesters broke all three of these rules. The protesters disrupted not just the FedSoc talk, "a university event," but also the "regular operations" of YLS, including multiple classes and a faculty meeting (which actually was "shut down," since it had to be moved to Zoom). The protesters interfered with both "a speaker's ability to speak," before they left Room 127, and the "attendees' ability to listen and hear," after they repaired to the hallway. Finally, the protesters blocked the main hallway of the Sterling Law Building. There is ample evidence, including audio recordings, video recordings, and eyewitness testimony, to support all of this.
The Yale free-speech policy also offers seven examples of prohibited conduct. The protesters engaged in at least six of them:
- "Holding up signs in a manner that obstructs the view of those attempting to watch an event or speaker, regardless of the message expressed."
- "[S]houting… in a manner that interferes with speakers' ability to be heard and of community members to listen, or disrupts or interferes with classes or other university activities."
- "Standing up in an assembly in a way that obstructs the view of those attempting to watch an event or speaker and/or blocking the aisles or routes of egress."
- "Sitting in or otherwise occupying a building in a way that blocks access or otherwise interferes with university events or operations."
- "Acting in ways that compromise the safety or bodily integrity of oneself or others."
- "Engaging in activities that are illegal or are prohibited in School or College regulations or policies."
The fact that some of the prohibited conduct lasted for only a limited period of time is no defense; a violation occurs after the prohibited act has been committed. And again, there's evidence to support all of this ….
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