Last week we wrote that Santa Clara professor Steve Diamond’s grounding in reality was so tenuous, and his comments so far into outer space that he must be approaching escape velocity. This was mistaken, and for that mistake, we apologize. [See: Santa Clara Prof Just Making Up Tuition Facts and Santa Clara Prof Steve Diamond Approaches Escape Velocity]
The truth is that Steve Diamond occupies an independent subspace bubble. While it appeared that Steve Diamond was traveling at an extremely high velocity, he in fact has no speed at all,* and it is his private space bubble that is traveling so fast.
This might be confusing to those readers who are not familiar with the theory of faster-than-light travel, but don’t worry, all you really need to know is that Steve Diamond is not traveling away from our reality, but has instead become detached from it.
*Because motion is a relativistic concept, and Steve is the only occupant of this subspace reality, he has no movement within it.
Now we’d like to go into more detail about just how Steve has managed to leave the plane of existence the rest of us occupy. This is by no means a full accounting of his ground breaking work in astrophysics and aerospace engineering, but it hits most of the good points.
First, he thinks that we’re on some sort of witch hunt. The comment that gave rise to this belief is this:
Steve Diamond isn't just flying into outer space, he's approaching escape velocity. And Santa Clara lets this guy teach business law and corporate finance. Lucky for him, he has tenure, but if we were SCU students, we'd under-enroll his classes until he was forced out.
He referred to this comment as a witch hunt twice on Faculty Lounge, and once again on his own blog. However, the comment he objected to referred to him specifically, and no others. A witch hunt is an attempt to persecute an entire group. Also, we are rather fond of wizards, witches, and all magical sorts here and would never want to hunt them. Quite the contrary, we only hunt non-magical squibs like Steve Diamond.
Next, Steve thinks that he should be protected from criticism at Con Daily because of the principle of academic freedom.
I am protected by the principles of academic freedom embodied in the 1940 statements of the American Association of University Professors, of which I have been a proud member since I joined the Santa Clara faculty.
Well whoopadeefreakingdoo! We’re protected by the principles of freewheeling uppity law bloggers embodied in the 2011 statements of the Constitutional Daily Association of Constitutional Daily Contributors, of which we have been proud members since we started Constitutional Daily.
Or, to put in another way: the AAUP’s principles have no jurisdiction here. We’re not a university, and we don’t have a contract with you. But, just in case they were relevant, let’s take a look at what the AAUP says about academic freedom in the 1940 Statement:
College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.
They specify that it’s freedom from institutional discipline. That means your university shouldn’t punish you for your views. Doesn’t mean third parties can’t criticize you, or that students can’t vote with their feet. And then there’s all that other stuff that comes after it. You have comported yourself with not one shred of the dignity the AAUP hoped professors would aspire to.
But wait, Steve has more to say about academic freedom.
So there are two simple steps here: one, tenure is important to academic freedom, and two, academic freedom is a basic civil liberty established over many centuries as part of the general universal right to free speech.
Academic freedom …is a basic …CIVIL LIBERTY.
There are very good arguments to be made in favor of academic freedom, and there are good arguments to be made that the freedom of speech is a basic civil liberty, but it’s absurd to argue that academic freedom is a basic civil liberty. He might as well be arguing that the failure to award a professor a summer research stipend is a human rights violation. Someone call the United Nations, Professor Stephen wasn’t given enough research assistants!
Academic freedom is a good and a privilege, but it is not a basic civil liberty and it’s not part of “the general universal right to free speech.” The fact that the AAUP only tries to apply to professors should clue you in. Freedom of speech is a right the people hold against their government. Academic freedom is a right professors hold against their institutions. You don’t even have to take Con Law (did you take Con Law) to figure out the difference.
The last thing we want to address is Steve’s bizarre objections to the use of sticker prices when discussing law school tuition:
Do you think it is misleading to post nominal tuition numbers in red on your [LST’s] website when the actual cost of law school is impacted by so many other factors?
In fact, the prominence given to the nominal number on the LST site raises an important question: are they using a misleadingly alarming number to drive traffic to their site?
What’s going on here is pretty obvious. The original claim Steve made that we latched on to was that the faculty at Santa Clara decided not to raise tuition. We said this was false, because Santa Clara’s tuition (the nominal, sticker price) had continued to go up. Steve responded by saying that there were measures which would have raised tuition further, but were blocked by the faculty senate. We didn’t buy his explanation. A claim that you’ve not raised tuition, to a reasonable reader, means the sticker price hasn’t gone up, not that it’s gone up but by less than it could have. Under this reading, every single school has blocked tuition increases, either by voting down some measures that would raise tuition, or be nipping it in the bud and never letting such a measure even come to a vote. Of course, that reading is stupid, and no reasonable person would ever read it that way.
Steve knows, or ought to know, how his remark would be interpreted, and in the light of that interpretation, his claim about SCU not raising tuition is false. We’re standing by that.
Rather than backing off the issue, Steve is doubling down by trying to discredit all use of sticker price, with his eyes now set on LST, acting as though the organization is up to no good by using this number. Yet, to anyone still occupying the same reality as the rest of us, the reasons for using it are quite obvious:
1. It’s the data that’s available. Some information about tuition awards is out there, but the numbers are inexact, such as number receiving “half to full” awards. That’s a huge range, and using that data to figure out average tuition paid would involve a lot of guess work. LST goes with the number that is known for certain, because it’s published on the school’s website. That’s right, it’s the rate that every law school, including Santa Clara, uses to talk about its tuition.
2. It’s what a lot of people pay. At Santa Clara, 54% of students pay full freight. Nationwide the number is roughly half. That does mean that roughly half of students pay some other amount. Trouble is that the other amount is not one single amount. It can range from discounts that combined over three years are less than $10,000, all the way up to scholarship packages that not only cover tuition but put money back into the pockets of students. So, half of students are paying a price spread across a huge spectrum of discounts, and half are paying exactly sticker price. Pretty obvious what number you use, especially when you consider…
3. It’s easy to apply a discount to the non-discounted rate. It’s going to cost you $45,000 a year, and you’ve received an award of $10,000 a year. Even a 0L can do the math. But using a different rate is a bit harder. You’ve received an award of $10,000 a year, and the average tuition paid at your school is $25,500. That’s a difficult starting point. And in fact, it’s a completely useless starting point, because schools don’t tell students that they’re paying the average rate, they just give the award amount.
I do think however that the obsession with nominal tuition numbers is not helpful, a point I have now made here and on ConstitutionalDaily exhaustively. That this blatantly obvious and rational conclusion is ignored by LST and others suggests that there is another agenda here. Kyle and LST have still not made their annual reports or Form 990s available so that they too can be checked for accuracy.
That’s some real sharp thinking there, Steve. LST uses the sticker price, not for any of the obvious reasons, but because there is some hidden agenda. Just what do you think that agenda is? And of even greater concern, how has LST managed to infiltrate every single law administration and convince them to post the sticker price on their websites? And how did LST manage to sneak the requirement to post tuition rates into the ABA accreditation standards?
This is some scary shit, bro, these guys are everywhere. Now we understand why you were so eager to escape into your subspace bubble and leave this reality behind.
God speed to you, sir.
Santa Clara students taking a class from Steve Diamond this semester, you’re still in the drop-add period. Despite Steve’s belief that you’d be violating his inalienable rights endowed to him by his creator, you are in fact free to take classes from another professor who shows more intellectual promise.