Law faculty discuss race issues

By on October 3, 2007

Three members of the Quinnipiac Law School faculty discussed hate speech in relation to the first amendment on Thursday Sept. 27 in the Law School’s grand courtroom.

In light of the recent events on the Quinnipiac campus involving racism, approximately 60 students and faculty listened as Law School Dean Brad Saxton and professors Marilyn Ford and Martin Margulies offered their insight on the amendment’s place in a university setting in a panel discussion format.

After a brief introduction from panel moderator and Student Bar Association President Adam Swanson, Margulies spoke on “The First Amendment and the problems of regulating hate speech.” He ended his portion of the panel discussion with a strong statement about universities.

“Any great university that can’t educate its students on diversity, is no great university,” Marguiles said.

Dean Saxton spoke next on the subject of “Limitations and abilities of administration responses.” Like Marguiles, Saxton was hesitant to call for new codes or legislation that would restrict students from being open with their beliefs.

“I hope that students won’t be so afraid that they would mask their beliefs that would take away from the vigor of a classroom discussion,” Saxton said.

Saxton also mentioned the Law School’s commitment to increasing diversity, citing the 18 percent of first-year students that are of color.

Ford was the last of the panel to speak and took a different stance than Marguiles or Saxton. While Ford said she agreed with the earlier statements the faculty members had made in a legal sense, she noted that it was a “perspectve of the priviledged.” Ford, who is black, used anecdotes about discrimination including one about herself to illustrate her point.

“In an academic environment where we are all preaching diversity…there is a certain standard we should hold people to,” she said.

The discussion concluded after a question and answer session. When Saxton was asked what the appropriate administrative response should be to future incidents of intolerance, Saxton praised the Law School’s students for organizing the event.

“I think [we need] a broad-based community response and not just administrators saying that there is a policy in place,” Saxton said.


About David Westerberg