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Political View Biases at Universities

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2 minutes ago, providence said:

Seriously, why not? People do all the time without negative consequences. 

I wouldn't want potential students to get the wrong idea. I don't believe it is true that students get better grades in law school if they hide their conservative beliefs. If they havewell-presented ideas, conservatives can get good grades in law school.

Because the risk is simply not worth it. I'll play it safe and get the grades I need.

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14 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

Because the risk is simply not worth it. I'll play it safe and get the grades I need.

What an incredibly boring life you're in for. 

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7 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

So wanting to avoid a C = boring?

Man, imagine how good a paper I must have written to overcome this great adversity. 

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Are you referring to the risk of a poor grade for unfair reasons (which is small) or the risk of obtaining evidence which would undermine your worldview of continual persecution of your beliefs (which is much larger)?

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56 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

Because the risk is simply not worth it. I'll play it safe and get the grades I need.

36 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

So wanting to avoid a C = boring?

If you're given an exam question that says, "here is the factual description of an easement, what are the rights and responsibilities of party X related to this easement" and you answer "ALL PRIVATE PROPERTY IS SACRED, COURTS THAT GRANT OTHERS ACCESS TO PRIVATE PROPERTY ARE SJW CUCKS OMG I'M SO CONSERVATIVE," then yes, you'll get a really bad grade. 

If you articulately express conservative principles in discussions where conservative principles are relevant, then I seriously doubt that you will be punished for your ideology. Being conservative isn't annoying. Being relentlessly political and injecting yourself into every discussion, while your classmates are trying to learn legal reasoning and substantive law, is incredibly annoying and will only serve to distract you from the things that you're supposed to be learning. 

 

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17 minutes ago, realpseudonym said:

If you're given an exam question that says, "here is the factual description of an easement, what are the rights and responsibilities of party X related to this easement" and you answer "ALL PRIVATE PROPERTY IS SACRED, COURTS THAT GRANT OTHERS ACCESS TO PRIVATE PROPERTY ARE SJW CUCKS OMG I'M SO CONSERVATIVE," then yes, you'll get a really bad grade. 

If you articulately express conservative principles in discussions where conservative principles are relevant, then I seriously doubt that you will be punished for your ideology. Being conservative isn't annoying. Being relentlessly political and injecting yourself into every discussion, while your classmates are trying to learn legal reasoning and substantive law, is incredibly annoying and will only serve to distract you from the things that you're supposed to be learning. 

 

...or getting mad and taking it personally when other people express opinions different from yours in discussions.

I also don't think that opinions/viewpoints in law school (or anywhere) can be so neatly categorized as "conservative" and "SJW" and I'm troubled by the black and white thinking. An "SJW feminist" might write a paper for a Sentencing class in criminal law that sentencing for sexual assault is too lenient, or asking for a lower standard of proof on sexual assault cases or for the accused to be compelled to testify. This would be the position of some (not all) Crowns and is aligned with conservative views on stiffer penalties. Someone else might write a paper arguing for robust protection of the presumption of innocence that would prevent any of those measures from being enacted. That someone else COULD be coming from a conservative, anti-feminist perspective that thinks women often lie about sexual assault to jam men up.... or they could be coming from the perspective of a person of colour/indigenous person who is for decarceration in general and partly because of its disproportionate impact on racialized persons, which is more of a radical left position, or they could be apolitical or centrist and looking at it strictly in terms of criminal law principles, and for the last two options, they might also be a feminist. How would the prof know what their politics are, and why would it matter? 

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4 hours ago, harveyspecter993 said:

So wanting to avoid a C = boring?

More like "writing boring papers on artificial centrism = C", but you seem pretty intent on your view (despite any evidence to support it)

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3 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Man, imagine how good a paper I must have written to overcome this great adversity. 

BQ; not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need. 😁

Edited by TrqTTs
smiley's be woke
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I don't think you will lose marks for voicing conservative views (or the opposite for that matter; I've taken courses with two very strident libertarian professor as well as courses with very committed leftists, and in each instance I've never felt that the professor would penalize a student who expressed a view with which the professor disagree as long as the student made a cogent argument). However, I do think there is something legitimately stifling about the political climate on my law school's campus (Queen's). I know several people who are, e.g., quite religious and fastidiously avoid talking about abortion or gay marriage because it can create tension with other students. Regardless of whether this impoverishes learning, I think it certainly makes it uncomfortable for conservative students. Having said all this, I think it's hard to categorically say conservative views are verboten. If you disaggregate the category, I think it becomes clear that some views are not within the permissible range of discussion (abortion or gay marriage being two examples) while others are okay (for example, I think even hard lefties at my school are pretty receptive to different views about how much protection should be afforded to property rights or how broad/narrow freedom of expression should be).

Edited by SlaqWam

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7 hours ago, SlaqWam said:

I don't think you will lose marks for voicing conservative views 

I acknowledge that I may have come across as a paranoid conservative. Just to be clear, I don't think academics set out to punish conservative students. I just have a natural tendency to err on the side of caution and that affects the way I approach schoolwork. 

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7 hours ago, SlaqWam said:

I don't think you will lose marks for voicing conservative views (or the opposite for that matter; I've taken courses with two very strident libertarian professor as well as courses with very committed leftists, and in each instance I've never felt that the professor would penalize a student who expressed a view with which the professor disagree as long as the student made a cogent argument). However, I do think there is something legitimately stifling about the political climate on my law school's campus (Queen's). I know several people who are, e.g., quite religious and fastidiously avoid talking about abortion or gay marriage because it can create tension with other students. Regardless of whether this impoverishes learning, I think it certainly makes it uncomfortable for conservative students. Having said all this, I think it's hard to categorically say conservative views are verboten. If you disaggregate the category, I think it becomes clear that some views are not within the permissible range of discussion (abortion or gay marriage being two examples) while others are okay (for example, I think even hard lefties at my school are pretty receptive to different views about how much protection should be afforded to property rights or how broad/narrow freedom of expression should be).

I think abortion is a topic that engenders high emotions, because it involves situations very near and dear to women (and men) where the stakes are enormous. I don’t know if that’s solely a conservative-liberal thing or if it’s more of a personal thing, because even two liberals can disagree on the extent of abortion rights and have a very heated debate.

Gay marriage/gay rights is going to be contentious just because you are talking about the actual identity/experience/relationships of real people in the discussion. Property rights/freedom of expression are more abstract and a bit more removed from who  people are. I think it’s too easy sometimes for us to get caught up in the debate and forget that we’re talking about people and how that might affect someone.

 

 

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52 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

I acknowledge that I may have come across as a paranoid conservative. Just to be clear, I don't think academics set out to punish conservative students. I just have a natural tendency to err on the side of caution and that affects the way I approach schoolwork. 

If you want more As you may need to show some brave and bold thinking. 😊

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3 minutes ago, providence said:

If you want more As you may need to show some brave and bold thinking. 😊

I do think I made a fairly creative argument in the paper I had an A on. It wasn't anodyne centrism. It just wasn't an argument I would ordinarily make. The weird thing is I actually kind of believe the argument I was making. It's not necessarily a "leftist" issue as much as it is a human-rights issue. It's just that if you had to guess who would make an argument like that you'd guess that the author was very strongly on the left.

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7 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

I do think I made a fairly creative argument in the paper I had an A on. It wasn't anodyne centrism. It just wasn't an argument I would ordinarily make. The weird thing is I actually kind of believe the argument I was making. It's not necessarily a "leftist" issue as much as it is a human-rights issue. It's just that if you had to guess who would make an argument like that you'd guess that the author was very strongly on the left.

See, it was the creativity and thought that went into it that got the A, not the end of the spectrum you think you appeared to be from. As I said above, arguments don’t always fall neatly into a political camp.

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9 hours ago, SlaqWam said:

I don't think you will lose marks for voicing conservative views (or the opposite for that matter; I've taken courses with two very strident libertarian professor as well as courses with very committed leftists, and in each instance I've never felt that the professor would penalize a student who expressed a view with which the professor disagree as long as the student made a cogent argument). However, I do think there is something legitimately stifling about the political climate on my law school's campus (Queen's). I know several people who are, e.g., quite religious and fastidiously avoid talking about abortion or gay marriage because it can create tension with other students. Regardless of whether this impoverishes learning, I think it certainly makes it uncomfortable for conservative students. Having said all this, I think it's hard to categorically say conservative views are verboten. If you disaggregate the category, I think it becomes clear that some views are not within the permissible range of discussion (abortion or gay marriage being two examples) while others are okay (for example, I think even hard lefties at my school are pretty receptive to different views about how much protection should be afforded to property rights or how broad/narrow freedom of expression should be).

From what I have heard from friends and former colleagues and my significant other - Queen's is SO FAR left that I wouldn't even consider going there since I am conservative and religious as well. From the reading I've done on the Internet as well in regards to students voicing their liberal opinions in the media it's just not something I feel comfortable doing. Dissenting opinions are great, but Queen's seems to be on the other side. Too far for my comfort

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53 minutes ago, NFLDFree said:

From what I have heard from friends and former colleagues and my significant other - Queen's is SO FAR left that I wouldn't even consider going there since I am conservative and religious as well. From the reading I've done on the Internet as well in regards to students voicing their liberal opinions in the media it's just not something I feel comfortable doing. Dissenting opinions are great, but Queen's seems to be on the other side. Too far for my comfort

I... personally know very little about Ontario schools, but are we sure there's just one school called Queens? I know someone who left Queens because it was too conservative for them, and when I quoted that to my significant other, I received "If Queens is too far left, where on earth could they go in Canada? Unless there's some specifically religious law school?".

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5 hours ago, providence said:

I think abortion is a topic that engenders high emotions, because it involves situations very near and dear to women (and men) where the stakes are enormous. I don’t know if that’s solely a conservative-liberal thing or if it’s more of a personal thing, because even two liberals can disagree on the extent of abortion rights and have a very heated debate.

Gay marriage/gay rights is going to be contentious just because you are talking about the actual identity/experience/relationships of real people in the discussion. Property rights/freedom of expression are more abstract and a bit more removed from who  people are. I think it’s too easy sometimes for us to get caught up in the debate and forget that we’re talking about people and how that might affect someone.

 

 

I understand that these topics are of deep personal importance to women and gay people (in passing, I will note that devoutly religious students also have strongly-felt and deeply personal opinions on these topics). I think my main point is that it's impossible even to have proper discussion about these topics on the campus and I know at least a few students on my campus who will not talk about such topics because doing so will utterly alienate them from their peers. Imagine going to first year constitutional law and sitting through a 2 hour class in which the professor and all the students who participate in class discussion, without qualification, extol the virtues of R. v. Morgentaler and feeling that if you raised a dissenting opinion it would not only fail to produce a proper conversation but also attract outright hostility towards you. That's not a great pedagogical environment to have to spend three years in. Of course, it's not clear that you could create an environment in which nobody felt this way. It's quite conceivable that trying to accommodate conservative students would alienate a large chunk of lefties.

 

3 hours ago, NFLDFree said:

From what I have heard from friends and former colleagues and my significant other - Queen's is SO FAR left that I wouldn't even consider going there since I am conservative and religious as well. From the reading I've done on the Internet as well in regards to students voicing their liberal opinions in the media it's just not something I feel comfortable doing. Dissenting opinions are great, but Queen's seems to be on the other side. Too far for my comfort

Most professors are lefties here, but there are a sizable number who are not. Bruce Pardy and Mohamed Khimji are hardcore libertarians, while Art Cockfield and Geoff Sigalet are some species of non-lefty. Among the lefties or the liberals, there are many who are fairly heterodox in one way or another (Gregoire Webber is one of like three originalists or semi-originalists in Canada). Of the fairly conventional liberal or lefty profs, most of them are very generous, very open-minded, and very non-judgmental. There is a very small group of professors who push their ideas on to their students, but again this is a very small group and you could easily avoid taking classes with these people if you wanted to. As a whole, the faculty is not "far left".

 

2 hours ago, lookingaround said:

I... personally know very little about Ontario schools, but are we sure there's just one school called Queens? I know someone who left Queens because it was too conservative for them, and when I quoted that to my significant other, I received "If Queens is too far left, where on earth could they go in Canada? Unless there's some specifically religious law school?".

This is hearsay, so I'm inherently inclined to take this with a grain of salt. Having said that, it should also be observed that:

(1) the atmosphere in the law school changes over time because of new hires, changes in the composition of who's accepted, etc.; and

(2) this doesn't mean Queen's isn't left-leaning, because, for all we know, the person you're talking about could be a Maoist or something. 

My experience at the school is that it's pretty lefty, but not overpoweringly so. Most of the conservative students I know have, as a whole, enjoyed their time here, and I suspect this is because learning and practicing law is only as political as you make it. 

 

Edited by SlaqWam
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1 hour ago, SlaqWam said:

This is hearsay, so I'm inherently inclined to take this with a grain of salt. Having said that, it should also be observed that:

(1) the atmosphere in the law school changes over time because of new hires, changes in the composition of who's accepted, etc.; and

(2) this doesn't mean Queen's isn't left-leaning, because, for all we know, the person you're talking about could be a Maoist or something. 

My experience at the school is that it's pretty lefty, but not overpoweringly so. Most of the conservative students I know have, as a whole, enjoyed their time here, and I suspect this is because learning and practicing law is only as political as you make it. 

 

 

No more so, of course, than your "I know several people who are, e.g., quite religious and fastidiously avoid talking about abortion or gay marriage" :) #Anecdata

 

I generally feel that talking about schools' political leanings is a hiding to nothing - most people with most views will be comfortable and pre-represented in most places - and people trying to filter in case they don't fit those 'mosts' risk just getting the timing wrong as, as you say, general compositions will change over time. Talking about anyone 'people know' is inherently subject to the people involved. The people who think one school is 'that far left' may just themselves be 'that far right'. The people who think the same school is 'way too conservative' may be to the left of the far left. My point was simply that as far as reputations on this go (shouldn't be far), and to the extent they should be considered at all (I'd say they shouldn't be), the particular school in question is not, in my experience, reputed to be on the left-side of Canadian law schools. In my personal experience, students at (a non-Ontario) school range from hard left to hard right, atheist to creationist, etc.

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3 minutes ago, lookingaround said:

 

No more so, of course, than your "I know several people who are, e.g., quite religious and fastidiously avoid talking about abortion or gay marriage" :) #Anecdata

 

I generally feel that talking about schools' political leanings is a hiding to nothing - most people with most views will be comfortable and pre-represented in most places - and people trying to filter in case they don't fit those 'mosts' risk just getting the timing wrong as, as you say, general compositions will change over time. Talking about anyone 'people know' is inherently subject to the people involved. The people who think one school is 'that far left' may just themselves be 'that far right'. The people who think the same school is 'way too conservative' may be to the left of the far left. My point was simply that as far as reputations on this go (shouldn't be far), and to the extent they should be considered at all (I'd say they shouldn't be), the particular school in question is not, in my experience, reputed to be on the left-side of Canadian law schools. In my personal experience, students at (a non-Ontario) school range from hard left to hard right, atheist to creationist, etc.

Fair. I don't think, though, that the distribution of views is nearly as uniform (or, to cast your claim in weaker terms, symmetric) as you suggest it is. You'll find hard right students/professors, but not nearly as many as you'll find hard left students/professors (this is part anecdata, part inductive inference from the characteristics of American law schools, from which I think we can get a zeroth order approximation of what Canadian law schools are like). The other thing here is that what counts as "hard right" is really odd. A Thatcherite may be represented as "far right", while the equivalent person on the "far left" is a Marxist. 

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