Thio Li Ann Visiting Professor NYU Law School.jpgOr close to nothing. That’s the likely enrollment in Human Rights Law in Asia, the course that Dr. Li-ann Thio, the visiting professor from Singapore with controversial views on gay rights, is scheduled to teach at NYU Law School this fall.

An NYU law student reports:

I think there’s a point everyone is missing about this story, and it is this:

We just had to submit our bids for fall courses. A grand total of five people applied for Dr. Thio’s class. It is totally going to get canceled. In comparison, Kenji Yoshino’s Con Law classes got 230 primary bids PER SECTION. NYU Law voted with its feet.

It’s not clear whether the student is referring to Human Rights Law in Asia (3 credits) or Constitutionalism in Asia (2 credits). Other sources tell us, however, that both courses are severely undersubscribed. NYU Law alumna Jill Filipovic, who over at Feministe expressed the hope that nobody would sign up for Dr. Thio’s classes, must be pleased.

(In case you’re not familiar with him, Kenji Yoshino is the openly gay law professor that NYU hired away from Yale last year. He is a leading scholar of gay rights and queer theory.)

UPDATE: We now have greater clarity, from our original tipster:

She’s teaching 2 courses. Human Rights got 9 bids, 5 primary and 4 alternates, and Constitutionalism got 5 bids, just 1 primary and 4 alternates. The results of bidding will be available next week so we’ll know more about how many people actually end up in the class then. But I think it’s pretty safe to assume NYU is not going to run two seminars with just a handful of people in them.

We contacted the law school, to confirm the registration numbers and to see if Dr. Thio’s classes were in danger of being canceled.

Read their response, plus additional discussion, after the jump.

As it did before, NYU Law is standing by its (wo)man. Here’s the school’s response, through a spokesperson:

Our registration process is still ongoing, and the law school has no plans to cancel any classes.

We understand that bidding for classes at NYU closed on Monday (although results won’t be announced to students until this coming Monday). So the law school could probably look up Dr. Thio’s current enrollment figures if they wanted to, at least to get a preliminary sense of student interest. Maybe they’re too scared to look?

UPDATE: A commenter notes that it was just the first round of bidding that closed. Still, the school could reveal the results of the first round, which would give a rough sense of Professor Thio’s popularity.

For Dr. Thio, low enrollment could be a blessing. She’ll get to live in New York — perhaps in some prime real estate, which NYU is known to shower upon its professors — with hardly any students to teach (or pesky papers or exams to grade).

In closing, here’s some friendly advice to NYU: until this controversy blows over, go easy on the alumni fundraising. The idea that their donations might be used to subsidize the Greenwich Village digs of an accused homophobe might not go over well with NYU’s largely liberal alumni base. From Jill Filipovic at Feministe:

Oh, and NYU Law? The next time you send me an email or a letter asking for financial support, you’re going to receive a note back from me explaining that I’m donating to an LGBT rights organization instead, and will be doing so for the foreseeable future. I would love to be a more involved graduate, but I’m not going to give a penny to an institution that invites people like Dr. Thio to teach. That will hold true long after she is no longer teaching at the law school.

Maybe NYU Law should apply for a special grant from Focus on the Family. They’d seem like an unusual source of funding for NYU Law, but Dr. Thio is an unusual faculty member. It can’t hurt to ask, right?

The oppressor and victim is who and what now? [Feministe]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Dr. Li-ann Thio


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