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Political View Biases at Universities

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You do get a strong left-wing vibe at Osgoode especially when we're discussing policy in class. I can't say that any of the conservatives I know feel maligned but maybe that's just because we keep our mouths shut during class.

Edited by harveyspecter993
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On 1/22/2019 at 2:15 PM, NFLDFree said:

Do different universities tend to have political biases in the law schools? For example, I've heard that Osgoode, UofT, UBC, UVic tend to be quite liberal, but schools such as Calgary, UNB, Dal, Alberta tend to be more conservative minded. 

Perhaps this is just geographic bias? 

Anyways, interested in hearing thoughts.

I would not agree with your assessment of Dal as a having a conservative leaning. 

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A friend of mine told me that she had a long personal conversation with a law professor who used to teach at UofT, but now teaches at Osgoode. The prof described strongly disliking the political climate at UofT because they found it too conservative, and is much happier working at Osgoode because they found it more suited to their left political views.

(Sorry that this is a "this is what my friend told me" story rather than a first-hand story. I trust my friend though and it aligns with other things I've heard, so I thought I'd put this out there)

Edited by bethecowgirl

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4 hours ago, conge said:

I would not agree with your assessment of Dal as a having a conservative leaning. 

I second this. There are many words I could use to describe Dal, none of which are conservative leaning. 

That being said, I've never felt (outside of the aboriginal law course which is a huge exception to what I'm about to say) that a conservative view would be looked down on or not treated fairly by a professor in discussion while at Dal. Some people have offered up more conservative ideas and they've never been treated unfairly.

The professors by and large do have a left-leaning slant. There's no doubt about it. But I don't think I've missed out on information, or that they've omitted information in light of their political views. 

Granted, I'm only five months into 1L. 

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15 hours ago, tnlaw said:

From personal experience, I've literally heard a professor calling Donald trump a glorified monkey over here at UBC, and social justice programs seem rampant even among the corporate law gunners, so I'd definitely say the school leans to the left(BC in general is definitely more liberal though) 

I don’t really think social justice programs run rampant at UBC. There’s a small group of people involved in most of the social justice programs. If you’re referring to LSLAP and PBSC, then I don’t really think those count and people mostly join so they can say they have some “legal experience” when applying to OCIs. 

Edited by Starling

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2 hours ago, clithridiate said:

What have other U of T grads/students observed about the political climate at the U of T?

There are, of course, lots of left-leaning students -- but nothing I'd characterize as being out of the mainstream. There are also some obviously-conservative folks, although fewer. I think people are generally quite respectful of others' views; I can think of only one real blow-up over the last few years involving a small-c conservative student -- but his or her conduct was quite egregious. 

As for faculty, I can't say I have ever experienced any overt or uncomfortable partisan leanings. I'd say there's a default to liberal centrism -- which is, I suppose, where my own politics rest. (I can't imagine many professors voted for the federal or provincial Conservatives.)

On the whole, I struggle to make any concrete statements about a 'political climate' at U of T. It feels totally irrelevant to my experiences at law school -- but perhaps that's because I am not particularly politically-engaged.

 

Edited by onepost
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5 hours ago, bethecowgirl said:

A friend of mine told me that she had a long personal conversation with a law professor who used to teach at UofT, but now teaches at Osgoode. The prof described strongly disliking the political climate at UofT because they found it too conservative, and is much happier working at Osgoode because they found it more suited to their left political views.

(Sorry that this is a "this is what my friend told me" story rather than a first-hand story. I trust my friend though and it aligns with other things I've heard, so I thought I'd put this out there)

That surprises me. Not knowing the timing of his/her time at U of T, that certainly was not my experience as a student there.

As was mentioned earlier by several members, all of whom, I believe, are practicing lawyers, this isn't something that should influence your decision as to which school to attend. There are many factors that might be worthwhile considering before making your decision but this shouldn't be one of them.  

I'm curious if someone who is worried/concerned about this, also did so about the undergrad institution they attended?  What is the issue? I'm genuinely curious. When you are practicing, are you thinking that you will never be around individuals who have different political leanings? 

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On ‎1‎/‎22‎/‎2019 at 1:15 PM, NFLDFree said:

Do different universities tend to have political biases in the law schools? For example, I've heard that Osgoode, UofT, UBC, UVic tend to be quite liberal, but schools such as Calgary, UNB, Dal, Alberta tend to be more conservative minded. 

Perhaps this is just geographic bias? 

Anyways, interested in hearing thoughts.

Last year I transferred from one of the schools that you have listed as a conservative-leaning school, UNB, to Osgoode, which you have listed as a more liberal school. I personally have not noticed any difference. Both schools are, in my opinion, very left wing and you would be hard pressed to find a single prof who will openly espouse conservative opinions. Although granted, this might be a subjective assessment as I have to admit that I am generally on the more conservative side of the political spectrum.

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1 hour ago, onepost said:

On the whole, I struggle to make any concrete statements about a 'political climate' at U of T. It feels totally irrelevant to my experiences at law school -- but perhaps that's because I am not particularly politically-engaged.

Oh the whole, I feel the greatest division in thought among all law students is that most are perfectly content to simply attend school, learn the law, and are not particularly troubled by what anyone else's politics happens to be. Some, however, are perpetually obsessed by what other people think, and simply cannot be moved from the conviction, even without evidence, that their "political environment" (whatever that really means, to them) is somehow integral to the experience of learning law. The later group is a small minority. But put too many in a room together, and all hell breaks loose. If they disagree, it's a fucking mess. And even when they agree with one another, they'll inevitably find common cause against whatever thing happens to bug them.

You can use the law to advance a political agenda. There's nothing wrong with that. But legal knowledge is legal knowledge. You can learn it just as well around people who disagree with you, and from people who disagree with you. Effective advocates know this. Anyone who doesn't, quite frankly, is one of the dumber people in the room to begin with.

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5 hours ago, clithridiate said:

What have other U of T grads/students observed about the political climate at the U of T?

I saw a healthy mix of politics at U of T in terms of the professors and the student bodies. You won't find any marxist-leninists or white nationalists here - none out in the open at least - but in terms of moderate, healthy politics I wouldn't call it too "conservative" or too "liberal".

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On 1/24/2019 at 4:18 PM, ghoulzrulez said:

Sure thing - the only point I was getting at is that it may be just as much of a question of your professor's area of specialization or practice, as it is about their geographic area. I'd imagine most criminal defence lawyers, regardless of whether they're in Alberta or Quebec, are going to take a more liberal view on criminal law (maybe I'm wrong - admittedly, I know 0 criminal defence lawyers in Alberta). 

And while all law is, to some extent, political, I do think there are areas of laws that are more obviously political - i.e. every professor is going to have political views, but that doesn't always mean their political views will be broadcasted into the classroom. 

Crim profs aren't usually practicing criminal lawyers, and their views may be quite different from those of most criminal defence lawyers - for example, most crim law profs seemed to support getting rid of peremptory challenges to jurors in the aftermath of the Stanley trial, while most crim defence lawyers I know thought that that was a terrible move.

The politics of crim defence lawyers very - many are lefties, but some are neo-liberals and some are more civil libertarians/small government people and a lesser few are outright anarchists. 

Edited by providence

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On 1/24/2019 at 7:19 PM, tnlaw said:

From personal experience, I've literally heard a professor calling Donald trump a glorified monkey over here at UBC, and social justice programs seem rampant even among the corporate law gunners, so I'd definitely say the school leans to the left(BC in general is definitely more liberal though) 

LOL, I don't think you have to be on the left to think that about Trump! (though it's a little unfair to monkeys, who are quite smart.)

I think a lot of law schools are offering a lot more "social justice" programs, whether in response to student demands, addressing the TRC, allowing profs to teach their pet interests, or whatever else, so it makes sense that more people are taking them, whether those are the only courses available, they want to suck up, or they genuinely think the courses will increase their knowledge whatever they do. I think all "social justice-y" people should learn about corporations and the tax system and all "corporate gunners" should learn about inequalities in society and the role law has played in that. 

Edited by providence
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On 1/25/2019 at 1:05 PM, Diplock said:

Oh the whole, I feel the greatest division in thought among all law students is that most are perfectly content to simply attend school, learn the law, and are not particularly troubled by what anyone else's politics happens to be. Some, however, are perpetually obsessed by what other people think, and simply cannot be moved from the conviction, even without evidence, that their "political environment" (whatever that really means, to them) is somehow integral to the experience of learning law. The later group is a small minority. But put too many in a room together, and all hell breaks loose. If they disagree, it's a fucking mess. And even when they agree with one another, they'll inevitably find common cause against whatever thing happens to bug them.

You can use the law to advance a political agenda. There's nothing wrong with that. But legal knowledge is legal knowledge. You can learn it just as well around people who disagree with you, and from people who disagree with you. Effective advocates know this. Anyone who doesn't, quite frankly, is one of the dumber people in the room to begin with.

I went to law school and was kind of friendly with a conservative Christian who was convinced they were being persecuted for their views and were getting lower grades as a result. One prof had a very particular perspective quite far over to the left and this student deliberately chose to write a paper directly challenging the prof's area of research and pet subject and taking the opposite view. They were upset when they got a C and complained to me about it. I asked if I could read the paper and it was poorly written, with bad grammar and sentence structure, incorrect citing and lots of unsupported ranting and opinion. I actually thought a C was generous. I think for some people "political bias" is a way they justify their own mediocre performance. Conversely, some students think that if they share and express the "right" political views, they will be rewarded.

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McGill is quite left leaning. Most professors are left wing, a few are Rawlsian liberals, and a few are moderates. However, the student body is overwhelmingly left wing, with a very aggressive and vocal minority that shames and attacks anyone to the right of Stalin.

I'd say most students aren't radicals and focus on school but are afraid of contradicting the far-left gestapo.

Edited by Juve

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16 minutes ago, Juve said:

McGill is quite left leaning. Most professors are left wing, a few are Rawlsian liberals, and a few are moderates. However, the student body is overwhelmingly left wing, with a very aggressive and vocal minority that shames and attacks anyone to the right of Stalin.

I'd say most students aren't radicals and focus on school but are afraid of contracting the far-left gestapo.

Lol another snowflake conservative.

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14 minutes ago, Rashabon said:

Lol another snowflake conservative.

Indeed.

 

I'd say I'm more permafrost than a snowflake though!

Edited by Juve

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18 minutes ago, Rashabon said:

Lol another snowflake conservative.

You know, for a guy who finds it hard to share a room with anyone who disagrees with you, you sure are quick to attack anyone else who feels the same way. 

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