Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Santa Clara University's Law School Dean: Lisa Kloppenberg

The art of evading questions isn't hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to dissemble that their substance and character are a disaster. I apologize to Elizabeth Bishop for the aforementioned lines, but not to Dean Lisa Kloppenberg of Santa Clara Law School, who has mastered the art of the non-answer answer.

All across America, institutions have failed. I'd write that they "are failing," but the election of Donald Trump and nomination of Hillary Clinton reveals we are in a post-past tense, past participle situation. Local leaders aren't much better, but thus far, the public has been lulled to sleep by milquetoasts using federal loans and tax breaks (e.g., nonprofit status) to rule with ivory fists. 

We are now at a point where an alumnus who has given his alma mater one hundred or so thousand dollars cannot park on a mostly empty campus without receiving the kind of treatment for which soldiers on the East German side would have been honored. For more, scroll all the way down for the first email and work your way up. Castigat ridendo mores

Bonus 1: the references to Germany are deliberate and extend beyond Dean Kloppenberg's last name. Santa Clara University is a Jesuit/Catholic institution. From William Hinckle's If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade (1973): 

Bonus 2: to give you an idea of the low expectations for the position of SCU Law dean, Kloppenberg is actually better than Mack Player (yes, that's his name), the dean when I attended SCU Law. Dean Player, allegedly an expert on employment law, required his class to use an older hornbook under which he, being the author, presumably received royalties, even though a newer--and better--one was available. It's unclear whether Player, a Southerner, is actually inbred, but his visage and frail shape left me little doubt that some unholy alliance had to be involved for his existence not to have activated famines, earthquakes, and sundry tribulations. 


Given a choice between an evasive, asinine answer and receiving excrement in the mail, I'd choose the latter every time--it's more honest. Your non-response response--the hallmark of ineffective leaders everywhere--misses almost every complaint I raised: 

1. By charging seminar/event attendees for parking while charging others nothing, SCU is seeking profit opportunity through arbitrary discrimination. Any institution that acts arbitrarily loses the moral high ground, an interesting point to note for a campus proud of its ethics center. (On another note, if you see me at a seminar on campus, I wandered in by mistake after using the cafe.) 

2. By charging alumni for parking at all rather than providing it free to those who can show an alumni card during non-peak parking hours, SCU is weakening ties between itself and its alumni--and therefore its own brand. (I'm not a dean, but I can deduce that brand destruction shouldn't be part of the job description.) 

3.  The campus security employee should have called his supervisor immediately when requested to do so rather than escalate the situation by demanding the alumni's [sic] name and license plate number. (Fascism comes in many forms, but it often creeps up slowly around manicured lawns until it drives away all dissenting voices.) 

I'm sure you have bigger and better ideas to contemplate, but I'm also certain a leader who cannot resolve simple issues or who avoids them entirely will not garner the respect necessary to take on meatier issues. Good luck. 

Matthew Rafat, Esq. 
Class of 2002

On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, 11:11:46 AM PDT, Lisa Kloppenberg <lkloppenberg@scu.edu> wrote: 

Dear Matthew, 

I've looked into the reasons for the charge. SCU charges a fee to attend all for parking to attend events on campus and that after 5 p.m. the fee is $5.00. I'm sorry that this distresses you, although (as I mentioned), there is ample free parking available after 5 p.m. on the streets near campus. No money goes to the Law School from the parking fee and it's not something we can change. 

I'm glad you attended, and hope you enjoyed the Privacy Law event. I was glad to hear that our student organizers warned people ahead of the time about the fee on the event page. Registered attendees also received email reminders 2 days prior to the event including the parking fee (although if you registered last minute you may not have seen this). 

I realize that this won't resolve your underlying concern about why SCU charges, but I hope that on balance it's worthwhile for you to return to campus and attend select events. I understand that we did not charge or require any IAPP membership for SCU persons who registered, which is in itself a nice value that we provide for alumni. 

Best wishes, Lisa 

On Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 8:55 PM, Matthew Rafat <willworkforjustice@yahoo.com> wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today about parking. I am not a dean or law professor, but it doesn't seem logical to bilk only law seminar attendees for parking after 5pm while giving others with similarly reasonable reasons a free pass for being on campus. 

Additionally, it doesn't make sense to charge alumni for parking on campus at all unless there is overcapacity due to an extremely popular event. In my case, I had to argue with the security guard and request he speak to his supervisor multiple times before I got any kind of response, after which he and his supervisor decided the "right" course of action was to take down my license plate and get my name. Here is the video: Santa Clara University: Charging Parking Only to Seminar Attendees 

An institution's reputation is contingent on its alumni and how it treats its alumni. Your school is becoming a haven for people who follow orders and rely on connections and money rather than a place where wisdom and courage flourish. Please forward this email to Philip Beltran, Director of Campus Security. He and the rest of campus security staff lack public email addresses. 

Matthew Rafat, Esq. 
Class of 2002 

Lisa A. Kloppenberg
Dean & Professor of Law
Santa Clara University
School of Law
(408) 554-4362


Update in 2019: in what may be a sign of Santa Clara University's assured decline, Kloppenberg has been selected as Dean of the university, with a law professor taking over her former position. 

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