The dean of the University of Arkansas’ prestigious law school, Michael Schwartz, is resigning after a four-year tenure marked by clashes with campus conservatives. The last straw that led to his resignation was the backlash over his reaction to Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election.
Schwartz came into the public eye last year when he prevented one of his colleagues, Robert Steinbuch, from accessing school records to study its allegedly race-based admissions policies. The school eventually released the data; however, it was so heavily redacted, Steinbuch said it’s “essentially lacking all of the relevant information.”
The dean continued to maintain his case that releasing such information would violate the students’ privacy, and soon after that some faculty members tried to suspend Steinbuch’s grading privileges, accusing him of being biased against minority students.
But what finally cost the Dean Schwartz his position was his opinionated reaction to Trump’s surprise victory. Soon after the results were announced, Schwartz sent an email offering free counseling services to students who “feel upset” following the “most upsetting, most painful, most disturbing election season of my lifetime.”
The dean’s statement led to many questioning his ability to ensure a vibrant academic environment and treat students like adults. According to Steinbuch, he could remember just one time counseling being offered to law students at the university and that was after a student had committed suicide.
Steinbuch also said that while such instances were “obviously tragic situations” that justify on-campus counseling, the tragedy of a suicide isn’t equivalent to a Republican being elected to the Presidency.
It’s a question of teaching people to be mature and modeling maturity. If you tell people every time they lose they’re entitled to counseling, you elevate the perceived level of wrong beyond what it is. Most assuredly, Democrats are disappointed a Republican won. I recall when the Democratic Party won the Presidency twice each of the previous two elections. I knew plenty of people who were disappointed at that time, but I didn’t know anybody that needed grief counseling. I think when we tell people that they need some form of grief counseling we are normalizing hysteria and suggesting there’s something immoral or wrong about our democratic process.
Schwartz is stepping down from his dean role and will now teach full time—in a tenured position. Is his case the beginning of a real backlash against coddling students on American campuses?