Professor offers legal help against ‘smiley-faced Stalinist inquisitions’
California law imposes First Amendment obligations on even private educational institutions.
Stanford University should know. Nine of its students sued the school under the first “Leonard Law” case in 1994, and a judge threw out Stanford’s speech code the following year.
It’s not clear Stanford’s Title IX office knows this legal history, however.
A medical student claims he was called into a meeting because of false allegations stemming from his pro-life views, and high-profile professors at Ivy League universities are scolding their West Coast peer in response.
Title IX coordinator Jill Thomas’s email to Dylan Griswold, shared by a fellow Stanford student and Yale University Prof. Nicholas Christakis, is maddeningly vague on why she wants him to come in for an “Educational Intervention.”
She only discloses that she’s new in the position, and wants to have a “discussion” with Griswold “about concerns brought to our attention”:
There is no investigation underway at this time, nor any complainant that has asked to have you investigated. The purpose of our conversation is to make sure that you have an understanding of the concerns and the expectations of all Stanford community members.
@benshapiro @Cernovich @RealSaavedra @KassyDillon @charliekirk11 @MattWalshBlog
a medical student at Stanford was talking against abortion and now Stanford’s Title IX office is making him meet for an “Educational Intervention” 😬 pic.twitter.com/rIghwllYDs
— Alejandrina G.R. (@alejandrina_gr) December 13, 2018
Stanford student Alejandrina Gonzalez Reyes, who apparently knows Griswold, tweeted that he was “talking against abortion” before the meeting was requested. She said after the meeting that the Title IX office “has gotten lots of calls and emails” and this was not “the first time the groupthink mob of students try to falsely accuse dissenting students of something.”
Christakis chipped in that “Being called to meet is a sanction,” and it’s an “abuse” of Title IX regardless of one’s views on abortion. He said that “simply arguing an anti-abortion position in class” is not sufficient to demonstrate that Griswold was being “disruptive in some material way,” and he should have refused to meet with Thomas.
Princeton University Prof. Robert George offered his help to Griswold, saying he could recommend lawyers to defend him against “smiley-face Stalinist inquisitions.” Another commenter recommended contacting Harmeet Dhillon, who recently secured a settlement on behalf of the College Republicans in their First Amendment lawsuit against the University of California-Berkeley.
Former Department of Education official Adam Kissel, formerly of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, noted that Stanford itself was the first defendant in a Leonard Law case.
Thanks, Nick. Victims of these smiley-face Stalinist inquisitions should know that there are lawyers who will defend their rights in lawsuits against the Stalinist bureaucrats. They should feel free to DM me.
— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) December 13, 2018
Griswold himself joined Christakis’s tweet thread early Friday morning, saying there won’t be “further investigation opened unless another comes forward.” The “harsh reality” is that the “easiest way” for progressives to silence someone on campus is through Title IX-related accusations, he said.
He said in a subsequent tweet that he has been targeted for his “outspoken” pro-life views at Stanford for the past three years, getting worse each year. “There are women who aspire to be abortion doctors here who would castrate me if given the chance. I am unsurprised by my being summoned.”
But Griswold also defended Thomas as a “kind lady [who] was doing her job.” She was simply investigating bad-faith allegations by “male medical students,” supposedly made independently of each other, that Griswold was “grabbing women by the neck.”
Griswold did not respond to a Twitter direct message or email to explain specifically how he’s been targeted for his views at Stanford before this Title IX meeting.
His defense of Thomas doesn’t explain her mild language in the email, however. She didn’t cite any alleged violations of Stanford policy, much less physical violence against women that would trigger criminal investigation, but simply that she wanted him to understand the “expectations of all Stanford community members.”
I have been outspoken over this here at Stanford for the last three years. Each year there is more of an effort to silence me. There are women who aspire to be abortion doctors here who would castrate me if given the chance. I am unsurprised by my being summoned.
— Dylan Griswold (@DylanPGriswold) December 14, 2018
Thomas, a longtime Justice Department lawyer who only joined Stanford in August, did not respond to a College Fix inquiry about the incident.
E.J. Miranda, senior director of media relations, told The Fix in an email the Title IX office didn’t reach out to Griswold “because of his political views” but to “discuss reports that his greetings to other students sometimes involved the grabbing of other students’ necks”:
The student denied he engaged in the conduct. The Title IX Office appreciates that the student himself apologized for the misinformation about the purpose of the meeting, and his willingness to disclose the actual purpose of the meeting.
Miranda said Thomas “used a standard email” to invite Griswold to the meeting, and her “intervention” was standard practice for the office “when people come forward with concerns that do not rise to a policy violation or involve a complainant who does not wish to move forward with a formal investigation.”
This was an example of Stanford following its most recent Title IX report, which says Stanford will act in response to “objectionable behavior” before it “rises to the level of a hostile environment” or policy violation,” Miranda said.
Asked about Griswold’s history with the Title IX office and if it knows whether he’s been targeted with bad-faith allegations before this, Miranda said Stanford is “not in a position to disclose any student’s previous interactions, or lack thereof, with the Title IX Office.”
UPDATE: Stanford spokesperson E.J. Miranda responded to Fix queries after this post was published. His material has been added.