Diversity dean who derailed law school speaker event placed on leave

Daily Caller News Foundation

An elite Stanford Law School (SLS) dean who berated a federal judge during a speaker event earlier this month was placed on leave, the school announced on Tuesday.

Federal Judge Kyle Duncan attempted to deliver remarks about COVID, Twitter and guns on the California campus on March 9 but was repeatedly interrupted by student hecklers. SLS Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Tirien Steinbach responded to his request for an administrator to help silence the room, but instead took the podium to accuse Duncan of causing “harm” and questioned if his speech was worth delivering.

“Associate Dean Tirien Steinbach is currently on leave,” SLS Dean Jenny Martinez confirmed in a community message addressing the actions the school will take. “Generally speaking, the university does not comment publicly on pending personal matters, and so I will not do so at this time.”

Steinbach told Duncan that he would be given time to finish his remarks, but that “the way to address speech that feels abhorrent, that feels harmful, that literally denies the humanity of people … is with more speech and not less.”

SLS staff will receive additional training on how to properly respond to event disruptions, Martinez wrote. She quickly condemned Steinbach’s behavior in a March 11 apology to Duncan which was protested by students who argued they had a right to shout him down.

The student body will undergo “mandatory educational programming” during the semester on the “topic of freedom of speech and the norms of the legal profession,” Martinez wrote. Students who heckled Duncan during the event will not be disciplined as the school would have to determine which students in the room violated the First Amendment.

The school will also adopt a more clear policy “with clear protocols for dealing with disruptions” to establish clear speech protections for speakers and protesters, according to Martinez.

“I recognize that the course I have chosen will not please everyone, not least of which those who have demanded that I retract my apology to Judge Duncan and those who have demanded that students be immediately expelled,” she wrote. “But this is the course I believe best furthers our obligations as legal educators, charged with training future lawyers and preparing them to participate in a profession that undergirds the very fabric of our democracy and the rule of law.”

SLS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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