David Lat on Yale Law Dean’s Comments on the March 10 Incident

Below is an extract from the Original Jurisdiction. The whole book is 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]It’s not allowed to occupy or enter a building in any way that interferes or blocks with the university’s operations.

These rules were violated by protesters on March 10. Protesters broke not only the FedSoc talk “a university event”, but also the regular operations of YLS including classes, faculty meetings, and multiple classes (which was actually). WasThe protesters ordered it to “shutdown” as the Zoom facility had to be relocated. Before they left Room127, protesters interacted with “a speaker’s ability” and “attendees’ ability to hear and listen,” as they moved to the hallway. Finally, protesters blocked access to the Sterling Law Building’s main hall. All of the evidence is supported by ample evidence including audio and video recordings as well as eyewitness testimony.

Seven examples of prohibited behavior are also listed in the Yale policy on free speech. At least six were committed by protestors:

  • Signs that block the view of others trying to see an event or speaker are prohibited.
  • “[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 that blocks the view of others trying to see an event, speaker or other activity.
  • You must not sit or otherwise occupy a building which blocks or hinders university operations or events.
  • “Acting in a manner that poses a threat to the safety of another person or their bodily integrity.”
  • “Involving in illegal activities or that are not allowed by College policies or school regulations.”

Even though some of the prohibited acts were only temporary, it is not a defense. Violations occur after an act of prohibited conduct has been done. And again, there’s evidence to support all of this ….