Activists Target 'Secret Class'

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The Boalt Hall School of Law administration has come under fire once again over the undisclosed location of Professor John Yoo's spring semester California Constitution class.

Yoo, who has been criticized for memos he wrote under the Bush administration justifying alleged torture practices, was scheduled to begin his first class of the semester Tuesday night and is the only professor in the law school whose class location is not listed on the law school's class schedule. Anti-war groups World Can't Wait and Fire John Yoo! have targeted Yoo since he returned from sabbatical last fall and criticized the Boalt Hall administration Tuesday.

About 25 people, some clad in orange jumpsuits, gathered Tuesday outside Boalt Hall Dean Christopher Edley's office, demanding that the location of Yoo's class be made public.

"You could say today was the debut of a new university policy of secrecy," said World Can't Wait organizer Stephanie Tang. "The university will deal with issues by hiding."

The groups have called for Yoo's dismissal from the faculty of the law school due to his work in the Bush administration. At the time, Yoo was a deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice and wrote several legal memos that some say validated the use of illegal interrogation techniques such as simulated drowning, exposure to non-lethal insects and sleep deprivation on suspected terrorists.

Though Boalt Hall spokesperson Susan Gluss said she could not directly address why Yoo's class location has not been listed on the schedule, she said in an e-mail that Edley supported Yoo's right to teach without intrusion.

"(Edley's) priority is to ensure that students can take any class without interference, including disruption or intimidation," Gluss said. "He also stands fervently behind university principles: to uphold freedom of thought, however unpopular, and freedom of inquiry, however uncomfortable."

Many Boalt Hall professors said they could not think of another instance in the past when the location or other information about a class was withheld by the school.

"This is interesting--I'm not aware of any other situation where the school has withheld this kind of information," said Stephen Rosenbaum, a lecturer at Boalt Hall. "I understand there have been disturbances, but this is highly unorthodox."

Boalt law professor Jesse Choper said he agreed with the decision to not post Yoo's class location because Choper himself had classes disrupted by protesters in the past.

"I hope they didn't bother Edley too much," Choper said. "What's the point of breaking up a class? You're hurting other students."

Protests during Yoo's first class of last semester on August 17 included more than 50 demonstrators, four of whom were arrested after entering the lecture hall in which Yoo was conducting class. At an October 28 protest, demonstrators again called for Yoo to be fired outside of Boalt Hall while his class was in session.

Tang, who was one of those arrested August 17, said Edley was placing academic freedom over a more serious topic.

"A bigger price has been paid by the victims of torture by the work of John Yoo," Tang said. "They're putting the question of business as usual up and above the discussion of torture."

Tags: JOHN YOO, FIRE JOHN YOO!, BOALT HALL SCHOOL OF LAW, WORLD CAN'T WAIT


Emma Anderson covers academics and administration. Contact her [email protected]



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