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Another Stanford exit: Diversity dean who deplatformed conservative judge steps down

Law school dean claims Tirien Steinbach "intended to de-escalate" situation by stopping judge from speaking after students repeatedly interrupted him.

Published: July 20, 2023 2:14pm

Less than a day after Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced his pending resignation following an independent investigation that found he co-authored papers with "serious flaws" in data, the academic engine of Silicon Valley is losing another high-profile official who drew unwanted attention.

Tirien Steinbach, the associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion who deplatformed conservative federal appellate judge Kyle Duncan at a Federalist Society campus event earlier this year, "has decided that she will be leaving" Stanford "to pursue another opportunity," Law Dean Jenny Martinez told the community on Thursday.

The message referred to the "divisions caused by the March 9 event" and claimed that Steinbach "intended to de-escalate" the tensions prompted by students who repeatedly interrupted Duncan.

Steinbach had fanned the flames before the event, however, by publishing a statement that said Duncan's appearance "represents a significant hit to [student activists'] sense of belonging."

Neither Stanford nor Steinbach was prepared to handle the situation with Duncan or respond appropriately when students tried to stop him from speaking, Martinez said.

She praised Steinbach for expanding outreach to conservative groups among others often overlooked in DEI bureaucracies during her nearly two years.

"Today’s announcement that Steinbach will leave her post is hopefully another signal that Stanford intends to adopt a no-tolerance policy on viewpoint discrimination," Alex Morey, director of campus rights advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, said in a statement. 

"What set the event apart" from run-of-the-mill deplatformings was Steinbach's facilitating role "when she should've been enforcing the rules," Morey also said. FIRE is hopeful about Stanford's interim president Richard Saller because of his history with "ultra-speech-friendly UChicago."

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