Backlash Against Banzhaf

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

When George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf decided to sue Catholic University over its decision to bring back single-sex dorms, his lawsuit provoked a backlash against commentators who rather liked this return to tradition.

His GWU website tells us that he “teaches Torts, Administrative Law, Disabled People and the Law, Law and the Deaf, and a unique world-famous course—Legal Activism—where students learn to become public interest lawyers by bringing their own legal actions.”

“He and his students are widely known for bringing hundreds of innovative public interest legal actions including one of the leading Supreme Court environmental law suits, forcing the Cosmos Club to admit women, persuading the FTC to require ‘corrective advertising,’ preventing dry cleaners from charging women more than men to launder their shirts, suing Spiro T. Agnew to recover the bribes he received, safety standards for school buses, clearer warnings on birth control pills, smoke detectors in airplane lavatories, auto bumper standards, new police procedures for dealing with wife beaters, the end to a scheme to defraud veterans, greater roles for blacks on television, clearer labeling of foods, and many other victories.”

His students, to put it mildly, do not always appreciate this hands-on learning. “He is a horrible professor who enjoys embarrassing his students and then tries to use his students as props when he gets publicity for his cases,” one anonymous reviewer wrote on Rate My Professors.com.

Indeed, the public reaction to the law prof’s latest crusade is much less heated than the resentment he has built up among students who find his class a ripoff. The comments on his ratemyprofessors.com page are overwhelmingly negative:

  • “Horrible professor. Class is the worst I’ve taken. Multiple choice exams are ridiculous. Class is super “biased.. don’t dare express opinions different from his. DO NOT RECOMMEND!!”
  • “Prof should get an ‘E’ for EGO = it’s HUGE; if you are into rude and obnoxious, he’s the guy for you.”
  • “He’s self-absorbed in the extreme. My ‘A’ was earned after realizing I could pay a tutor and skip his class – he’s worthless.”
  • “Terrible teacher. And, I am not bitter – I got an A+ in the class, but only because I memorized every asinine word he said. Certainly not because I know the subject.”
  • “UGH! that’s all I have to add. Make sure you get the rock and memorize it … the earlier the better. It’s Torts by Banzhaf — and who ever thought a multiple-choice exam would be worse than an essay exam in law school?”
  • “Final exam is all multiple choice, and answer according to Banzhaf, not according to any other source (multi-state bar exam questions, etc.). Class is too biased.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org

 

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