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Current and former law students at George Mason University have shared with Above the Law their personal stories of mistreatment and discrimination at the school. Some of these tipsters asked not to have their stories published — they just wanted someone to tell and to provide background. But taking in all these stories what becomes immediately clear is that when a faculty that excitedly changes the name of the school to honor a man who used his seat to question if Black people were worthy of higher education, they might have some serious diversity problems of their own.
That’s what happens when you name your school ASSLaw!
The word “toxic” came up more than once and not in the context of “dumping sludge in the river” like the faculty supports. An informal survey taken in October revealed a widespread problem. As Emily Kvalheim laid out last week, students spoke of minority students being targeted for random ID checks and LGBTQ students that feel “this school forced me to go back into the closet on my sexuality.” Remember: THIS IS A PUBLIC SCHOOL. One comical tip we received involved a Black student — not at the law school — ending up in promotional materials because the school couldn’t be bothered to find diversity within their own enrollment. While that story was good for a chuckle, it underscores a broken institution replete with daily, intimate acts of discrimination and harassment.
It’s almost as if when libertarians say, “I’m not racist, I just care about constitutional principles,” they mean to say, “I am racist but I prefer to hide my biases behind cherry picking constitutional principles.” It may seem like a fine distinction but they mean the same thing when you consider the original public meaning.
A number of student groups have now come together to demand the school take this matter seriously. The full collective statement, available here, makes a number of straightforward and fairly non-controversial demands. Among other things, it asks for the involvement of diverse law students in recruiting efforts, a concerted effort to correct the school’s woeful Black student underrepresentation, basic diversity training, and the appointment of Director of Diversity Services to be responsible for all of this.
Most student groups at ASSLaw signed onto this statement. Can you guess who didn’t? Because it’s the biggest group on campus!
Yes, the Federalist Society is notably absent in this call for the institution to take basic steps toward creating an inclusive environment. In case you’re wondering what the mood inside the FedSoc is right now, a current conservative law student took to Legal Insurrection to vent about how uncomfortable he is that students who aren’t him are talking about problems he doesn’t personally deal with.
This week, Scalia Law’s Student Bar Association (SBA), in contravention of its supposed non-partisanship, issued a letter to the school’s administration, copying the entire student body, which contained a set of radical, Black Lives Matter-esque demands. The letter demanded, among other things, full tuition scholarships for all black students, affirmative action programs, special funding for “diverse” clubs to bring speakers of “intersectional identities”, and mandatory “race equity” trainings for all faculty, staff, and students.
“Non-partisanship” carries a lot of baggage in that paragraph, saying that the school should, “create and publish specific procedures within its own administration for responding to reports of discrimination, harassment, and misconduct” is thus, by implication, a “partisan” demand. And, in case you were wondering, he will absolutely quote Martin Luther King to explain why affirmative action is bad in the very next paragraph because Legal Insurrection articles are just Mad Libs for white grievances.
The student does claim that the Federalist Society simply had no idea that this letter was coming — which others dispute — but then blows any political capital this exclusion might have carried when he doesn’t suggest that the group would’ve signed on if given an opportunity. Rather, he bemoans that FedSoc wasn’t given an opportunity to gut the letter to the point of meaninglessness, which is certainly a kind of cooperative effort. But this gripe gets to the heart of the whole conservative complaint about race and diversity. If white people aren’t at the center of everything, the snowflake alarms go off at FedSoc headquarters. It’s discriminating based on race to recruit students for not being white, while it’s not discriminating when Black students get harassed at the library… for not being white. Here, students are allowed to have opinions… as long as the white people get to edit them for content.
Unfortunately, the faculty has displayed a steadfast refusal to consider its dumpster fire of a record on this issue, instead offering weak excuses and relying on the transient nature of the JD lifecycle to kick the can down the road. I’ve said it before: this is a public school and someone from the state government needs to get involved before things get better.
Hopefully I’m wrong about that and this effort will yield tangible results, but I doubt it.