When we first reported on Boston College Law professor Scott Fitzgibbon’s anti-gay marriage advertisement in Maine, we noted that the classes he taught were not germane to his views on gay marriage:
According to his bio, Professor Fitzgibbon teaches jurisprudence, corporations, securities regulation, and contracts. Are gay and lesbian BC Law students comfortable learning about these subjects from an anti-gay marriage professor?
In the Spring of 2008, a group of Boston College Law School students enrolled in Professor Scott T. Fitzgibbon’s “Marriage: Law and Theory” seminar formally approached Dean of Students Norah Wylie to express concern over Fitzgibbon’s allegedly improper conduct in class.
Can the law school claim that it is “welcoming” to gays and lesbians when it had an anti-gay marriage professor teaching its marriage and the law class?
Let’s look at the students’ complaints after the jump.
In his letter defending Professor Fitzgibbon, Boston College Law Dean John Garvey said:
His public statements represent his own opinions, as the advertisement makes clear, and do not state any official position of Boston College Law School.
But according to some students, Professor Fitzgibbon’s in class position was decidedly one-sided:
“He refused to include any readings from the feminist or GLBT groups into the curriculum, despite requests that he do so,” said Monica Jo Molnar ’08, a student in Fitzgibbon’s class and a member of the group that approached Wylie.
Instead, students from Fitzgibbon’s class reported that readings from conservative authors predominated.
Students’ objections were not limited to the readings themselves …
“On the exam, Professor Fitzgibbon insisted that anything we say be supported by the class readings, but his class readings only supported one view — his,” said Molnar.
On a torts exam, I tried to answer a standard BPL issue by arguing that BPL was never an appropriate standard to apply and that the scheme — and the entire study of law and economics in general — was devised to justify bad corporate behavior against hapless injured victims. It … didn’t go well for me.
But my view was radical (and probably wrong), so I took my B and liked it. However, on the gay marriage issue, there is a lot of scholarship available that suggests Fitzgibbon is the one with the radical and probably wrong legal view. Surely, the free exchange of ideas at an academic institution — as touted by Dean Garvey — would favor presenting both legal viewpoints.
Evidently, Boston College Law School didn’t see it that way:
The students’ request to modify the curriculum and/or to take the class Pass/Fail was denied.
Is being taught marriage law by Fitzgibbon like learning evolution from a creationist? Or is diversity of ideas maximized when every professor has the right to teach what they want in whatever manner they choose?
Students Lodged Complaint Against Fitzgibbon in 2008 [Eagleonline]
Earlier: Boston College Defends Anti-Gay Marriage Professor
Boston College Law Professor In Anti-Gay Marriage Ad