Diversity Dean Speaks Out After Being Placed On Leave, Defends Berating Conservative Judge

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) dean who was recently placed on leave after berating a federal judge during a campus event published an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday explaining her motives.

Stanford Law School (SLS) Associate Dean for DEI Tirien Steinbach asked Federal Judge Kyle Duncan to consider whether the “juice was worth the squeeze” after he asked for an administrator to quiet a room of heckling students during his March 9 speech on COVID-19, guns and Twitter. Steinbach, who came under fire for appearing to justify the heckler’s behavior, defended her actions in the op-ed by making the argument that she was explaining the protester’s position to “de-escalate” the situation. (RELATED: Stanford Diversity Dean Who Derailed Law School Speaker Event Placed On Leave)

“I stepped up to the podium to deploy the de-escalation techniques in which I have been trained, which include getting the parties to look past conflict and see each other as people,” Steinbach wrote. “My intention wasn’t to confront Judge Duncan or the protesters but to give voice to the students so that they could stop shouting and engage in respectful dialogue. I wanted Judge Duncan to understand why some students were protesting his presence on campus and for the students to understand why it was important that the judge be not only allowed but welcomed to speak.”

During her brief remarks at the event, Steinbach also told Duncan that his work has caused “harm” and that his speech “feels abhorrent,” harmful and “literally denies the humanity of people,” according to a video of the incident. SLS Dean Jenny Martinez wrote that Steinbach’s response was “inappropriate” and “not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech” in a March 11 apology to Duncan.

“At one point during the event, I asked Judge Duncan, ‘Is the juice worth the squeeze?’ I was referring to the responsibility that comes with freedom of speech: to consider not only the benefit of our words but also the consequences,” Steinbach wrote. “It isn’t a rhetorical question. I believe that we would be better served by leaders who ask themselves, ‘Is the juice (what we are doing) worth the squeeze (the intended and unintended consequences and costs)?’ I will certainly continue to ask this question myself.”

The event was “a microcosm of how polarized our society has become” and brought up questions about how people from across the aisle should speak to each other, Steinbach argued in the op-ed. She reaffirmed she is committed to free speech and believed that the Federalist Society-sponsored event should have occurred, but that a serious discussion should be had to balance free speech with DEI efforts.

“Free speech and diversity, equity and inclusion are means to an end, and one that I think many people can actually agree on: to live in a country with liberty and justice for all its people,” she wrote.

SLS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Steinbach could not be reached for comment.

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