Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Following up on my previous posts (links below): Above the Law, Alumni Of Top Law School Speak Out Against Professor:
After co-authoring a delightful op-ed exploring “bourgeois values” as a thinly veiled effort to denigrate women and minorities, Professor Amy Wax of Penn Law School and Professor Larry Alexander of USD Law have gotten their share of deserved criticism from all corners. Not that they didn’t expect to be pilloried — it’s all part of the right-wing martyrdom pageant — but neither probably guessed, when they published this days before Charlottesville, that opposition to this editorial would become a such rallying point for the law school community.
Professors have carefully debunked the shoddy “facts” — mostly unevidenced assertions — that Wax and Alexander laid out in their piece. Student groups have developed action plans to protect students, and the USD administration has made a commitment to address diversity and bias concerns.
It’s one thing for faculty and students to get inspired to make law schools a better place, since they have to deal with that environment every day. But now, Penn alumni have added their voices in response:
As Penn Law alumni, we are compelled to speak out in opposition to Penn Law Professor Amy Wax’s August 9, 2017 op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer and follow-up interview in the Daily Pennsylvanian. We join a chorus of powerful statements by current students and academics condemning her words. ...
Recently, University of San Diego School of Law Dean Stephen C. Ferruolo shared a statement outlining the “constructive and concrete ways” he intends to ensure the law school reflects its “shared values.” These included expanded curricular offerings, lectures, and workshops on discrimination and civil rights; workshops on racism and cultural sensitivity for administrators; training program of diversity and inclusion for the law school community; and, most importantly, the development of a working group to develop an action plan for steps to make certain the law school’s commitment to “diversity and inclusion remains strong and irrefutable.”
We urge Dean Ruger to make a similar public commitment. We point to Dean Ferruolo’s commitments as a model and further urge that the administration:
- Address the gap created by the loss of Professor Howard Lesnick's Legal Responses to Inequality class by creating 1L course offerings addressing issues of poverty, inequality, and civil rights;
- Set concrete short- and long-term goals for diversity in hiring across a number of metrics (race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, ability);
- Create an enhanced pipeline program to law school for underrepresented undergraduate students;
- Eliminate consideration of the LSAT or include the GRE as an alternative option for law school applicants;
- Underwrite an annual umbrella conference on poverty, inequality, and civil rights and/or formally support the various student affinity groups' conferences; and
- Create a standing multicultural/diversity advisory group or committee to evaluate and report annually to the law school dean on efforts taken to ensure diversity & inclusion at the law school.
We also ask our fellow alumni to reach out to us to be part of this ongoing conversation. We ask you to share your stories of when Penn Law has fallen short as a community in addressing racism and bigotry within the law school and in society as a whole, so that we can come together as a community to reflect on our history and propose concrete solutions to the Penn Law leadership in the near future.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage: