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Vladeck’s Shining Hour

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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3 Responses

  1. Kaimi says:

    I’ll comment here, rather than in the mess that is Steve’s thread.

    I think he is underestimating the extent to which class changes are a very big deal to students. Law school grades are hard to earn; often hard to decipher; and hugely important for future employment. Law students are very stressed about them. Any change in class is going to be highly disruptive and stressful for students. (And such changes are not limited to a single political side. One professor of mine took off in mid-semester to go work for the Bush side of the recount. The students weren’t thrilled about that.)

    That said, I think that his choice may be reasonable. I met off-campus for a couple of classes while in law school, for the entire semester. It was that professor’s style to do so. They were very effective, as well as being some of my favorite classes. (My final take on the reasonableness of the off-campus meeting would depend on the specifics of it — where it is, etc.)

    Also, I think that Steve’s repeated invocation of the poor hypoethetical student who herself doesn’t want to cross picket lines is, at least as currently framed, a bit disingenuous. Steve doesn’t know that such students exist, or that they exist in any real quanitity. We do know, absolutely, that some students _don’t_ want to move.

    If a vote showed that students were split 50-50 on the issue, then Steve’s action (and his repeated invocation of the student-who-doesn’t-want-to-cross-picket-lines) would seem like a reasonable enough choice. He’s going to offend some group, somehow — it’s reasonable to go with his preferences.

    However, if his students prefer to stay on campus by a 90-10 ratio, his own choice looks a lot less like defense of his own students, and a lot more like an outright imposition of his own views on his students, based only on his own superior position of power.

    Absent some indication as to how the views of his students break down — and I didn’t see such an indication in a reading/skimming of that mega-thread — I can’t say one way or the other. But if his students _do_ strongly prefer to stay on campus by some overwhelming margin, it gets harder to frame is as “Steve watching out for the interests of union-friendly students” and looks more and more like a raw imposition of power.

    Finally, and in general, the mere fact that Kate Litvak’s criticism is massively off the mark (asserting breach-of-contract, apparently without knowledge about what any of the contracts involved actually say), or that some of the other critiques are even worse on the Prawfs thread, doesn’t mean that Steve’s actions can’t be subjected to reasonable critique.

  2. Steve says:

    Kaimi — I don’t take Dave’s point to be that what I’ve done shouldn’t be subjected to reasonable critique. I had hoped it would be. What surprised me, and what (I’m guessing) surprised Dave, was the extent to which the critiques quickly took on a very personal, very emotional bent…

    As for your inquiry, I can only speak to my students, but they’ve overwhelmingly supported my decision to have class off campus, even those who don’t agree with it. The most heated criticism, thus far, has come from other students, which is part of why I found so troubling their questioning of my motives.

    Live and learn, I guess.

  3. sls_3L says:

    Professor Vladeck, To say that your students “overwhelmingly supported *my* decision to have class off campus” is different than saying over half preferred to move off campus. In previous posts, you said that if you held one class on campus and one class off, most students would end up attending the on campus class. I take this prediction as a better indication of your students preference than any support for a decision you have alread made.

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