Statement on Community

As faculty, students, and staff at our Law School, we are all members of a vibrant community, which brings together a talented and diverse group of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints. This statement outlines some principles that we believe should guide our community as we work together.

The Law School community exists to provide the best possible environment in which our students can study and train to be responsible and successful in their careers and in which our faculty can both teach and assist our students in that endeavor and produce top quality research and scholarship. We are first and foremost an intellectual and academic community. Individual members of the Law School community will have differences of opinion, often very strongly felt, on whole ranges of issues. The issues we grapple with inside and outside of class are often highly contested public issues. Because an important part of the training we provide is in advocacy, community members are expected to express and defend their opinions vigorously. Another significant part of our training is preparing our students to deal appropriately and professionally with adversity and conflictual situations in diverse settings. We achieve this both by instruction and example.

Intellectual debate and discussion are the lifeblood of the community and need to be nurtured. We are together, not because we all agree, but because we learn from each other. Our intellectual discussion and learning should be robust and vibrant, and we should be willing to question any and all positions. This discussion and learning should also be conducted in the spirit of mutual education with the utmost respect for and civility towards each other and our differing viewpoints. Intellectual argument is based on facts and principles that can be communicated to others and not on purely emotional or bald assertions. Unthinking use of stereotypes and engaging in humor at the expense of community members does not constitute intellectual argument. All of us will be mistaken from time to time in our views and arguments, and we should respect opposing views even if we believe they are incorrect. Finally, intellectual discussion and learning does not have room for intimidation or abuse of positions of authority. We should behave in such discussion in a way that encourages the fullest possible participation in the intellectual and educational project.

We strongly support the maintenance of the open, vigorous, and civil intellectual community as described above. We expect the same support for this community from each and every one of its members.