Academics hit ‘bureaucratic’ Georgetown diversity legal office over Ilya Shapiro investigation

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Georgetown University law professor Ilya Shapiro resigned on Monday after criticism of how President Biden picked his Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown-Jackson went viral on Twitter and viewed the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal to explain his departure.

“College didn’t fire me, but it caved in to the progressive mob, abandoned free speech and created a hostile environment,” Shapiro wrote in the Journal.

According to the editorial, the Georgetown University Law Center reinstated Shapiro last Thursday, citing that he had not violated the institution’s policy on speech and expression since he was not an employee of the university when he shared the tweet. But Shapiro chose to resign soon after. He cited a report he received from the university’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action (IDEAA) and said staying in the position was “untenable”.

“Dean William Treanor enlightened me that I was not an employee when I tweeted, but the IDEAA implicitly repealed Georgetown. Speech and Expression Policy and prepare me for discipline the next time I transgress progressive orthodoxy,” he said.


“Washington, DC, USA – April 9, 2012. Healy Hall with the statue of Georgetown University founder John Carroll in front and a few people walking in the background. Georgetown University is a private university in prominent in the United States.

“Instead of participating in this slow-motion shooting, I resign,” he added.

Shapiro went on to slam IDEAA’s argument that his view that Biden was limiting his Supreme Court picks to specific demographics warranted “appropriate corrective action” and cited the office’s “need” to address his ” objectively offensive comments and to prevent the recurrence of offensive behavior based on race, gender and sex.”

He also argues that IDEAA’s standard is not “objective”, citing the report which says that “the University’s anti-harassment policy does not require that a respondent intend to disparage”, but rather that it “requires consideration of the ‘purpose or effect’ of a defendant’s conduct.”


Critics railed against the IDEA Georgetown office, including students who came to Shapiro’s defense.

“I thought everyone knew what he was trying to say in his original tweet,” third-year law student Travis Nix told Fox News Digital. “He was trying to say that the Chief Justice of the DC Court of Appeals was more qualified. He said that in a very resourceful way, which he said, and he immediately apologized. I think that is in line with the Jesuit values ​​of Georgetown, that when we make a mistake, we ask for forgiveness, and he immediately did, and most of the Georgetown students and administration did not grant him that grace. and immediately called him a racist, when I think it’s very clear what he was trying to say in that tweet, and he just worded it very badly.”

Ilya Shapiro speaks at the 2016 Acton Lecture Series.

Ilya Shapiro speaks at the 2016 Acton Lecture Series.

Nix also tore up the university’s four-month investigation into Shapiro’s controversial tweet, calling the effort “complete nonsense.”

Left-leaning Georgetown law student Rafael Nuñez said the situation was “terribly handled,” telling Fox News Digital he viewed the move as an attack on “freedom of speech.”

On Twitter, critics also slammed IDEA for its investigation. Tunku Varadarajan, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, shared that he found it “ironic and hilarious” that the office’s acronym was IDEA when they, he alleged, “mainly exist to shut down ideas”.

William A. Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School, told Fox News Digital that the episode showed that “diversity, equity and inclusion bureaucracies are growing in size and power in almost every jurisdiction. great universities”.

“Whether in the form of bias response teams or performing the human resources function, they serve as ideological commissioners from a critical race-focused perspective,” he said. “It is credible, as Shapiro asserts, that the Georgetown Law IDEAA threatened that further unpopular speeches by Shapiro could be grounds for discipline as it would create a hostile educational environment, since the DEI accent does not is not about the rights of the speaker (Shapiro) but about the sensitivities of the listeners (students). of free speech. This Dean William Treanor has reinforced this coercive approach in his public speech. The statements have done serious and lasting damage to free speech at Georgetown Law and elsewhere.”

Jeffrey McCall, a professor of media studies at DePauw University, lamented the state of free speech on college campuses and, like Jacobson, used the word “bureaucratic” to describe the dust in Georgetown.

“This Ilya Shapiro case underscores the complicated and confusing state of free speech on college campuses,” McCall told Fox News Digital. “Although Shapiro was not technically disciplined, the chilling effect at play here would clearly have made it difficult, if not impossible, to perform his duties. In a sense, Georgetown has turned its back on its own free expression guidelines. , supporting an atmosphere in which shrill voices stifle people they disagree with.While Shapiro’s tweets were “inartistic”, as he acknowledged, universities can hardly silence a member of the body professor or student who says something ‘inartistic’. It’s contrary to the philosophy of free speech on one level, but also quite impractical on another.”

“This case shows that written and bureaucratic free speech policies mean nothing if they exist in cultures where free speech is not valued,” he continued. “In a sense, Georgetown and other universities that seek to stifle vigorous discussion, reduce the academy’s free-speech environment to approved dogma or unserious topics. Either way, the rhetorical sphere is scaled down.”


Randy Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown University, also said: “Instead of being sarcastic about something you know nothing about – ironically on Twitter, you should be very concerned about denial by the IDEAA of our free speech policy – a logic that applies to the expression of incumbents and non-incumbents.”

Shapiro himself also added another swipe at Georgetown Law on Twitter, posting images of his resignation letter and adding the following spiel: “Here’s my resignation letter from @GeorgetownLaw, a place that doesn’t value freedom of expression. In the name of DCI, it stifles intellectual diversity, undermines equal opportunity and excludes dissenting voices.”


Fox News Digital reached out to IDEAA members, seeking comment on Shapiro’s op-ed, and received the following statement from a Georgetown spokesperson:

“Georgetown urges members of our community to engage in robust and respectful dialogue. Our Speech and Expression Policy promotes free and open inquiry, deliberation and debate and does not prohibit person-based speech. that presents ideas or the content of those ideas, even when those ideas may be difficult, controversial or objectionable.

While we protect speech and expression, we strive to promote civil and respectful speech. In reviewing Mr. Shapiro’s conduct, the University followed normal processes for Law Center staff members.”

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