Apparently some members of the Black Law Students Association at the University of Chicago Law School need a refresher in Constitutional Law. Or maybe some of them could just re-watch Eyes on the Prize and remember why we fight.
A tipster reports on some exclusionary practices undertaken by the BLSA group at what was supposed to be a public forum they were hosting:
Ruckus at University of Chicago Law School after … the Black Law Students Association wouldn’t allow white students to attend a public forum they held. …
Note that these events are paid for with white-student dollars, not just funds BLSA raises.
We don’t have the full details on what went down, but we understand that white law students were “discouraged” from attending the event.
Whatever happened, it was so bad that Law School Dean of Students Michele Richardson felt compelled to send out an email to the entire law school community.
Update (6:01): More coverage is available here.
The Dean’s letter and BLSA’s response after the jump.
On Tuesday, Dean Richardson sent out the following email:
I heard about this unfortunate incident from several other students, and I went down to the classroom to address the issue directly with the sponsors of the event during the lunch hour. The leaders of the student organization just left my office, and reassured me that it was not their intention to inappropriately exclude their fellow classmates. They also, both personally and on behalf of their organization, sincerely apologized for any hurt feelings that resulted from the unfortunate remark and now clearly understand our policies that prohibit such exclusion.
I wanted to be sure that everyone understands that from the Law School’s perspective, it was absolutely inappropriate to restrict the event in this manner. Our student organizations and the events they sponsor are funded by your law student Fees and are required to be open to any law student who wishes to participate. We try to make this clear to all student organization leaders at the beginning of the year, but want to re-emphasize this once again.
Most importantly, it is critical that we all do our best to treat each other respectfully in this community at all times, and err in the direction of being inclusive rather than exclusive. When challenges like this arise, I hope all of us can view them as opportunities to learn from our mistakes and to be forgiving of each other. I ask all of you to do your best to put this behind you, and to focus on the exams that are ahead. Please feel free to stop by my office if you would like to talk about this matter or any other concerns.
All the best,
We have no idea what the “unfortunate remark” was, but the BLSA president also sent around an apology:
Apologies to non-BLSA members who tried to attend the Pre-Finals Break event with Goldberg Kohn in Room B during lunch today. There was confusion in the weekly law briefs as to whether the event was open to all law students. However, the small seating capacity and food availability made limiting attendance to BLSA members a requirement.
We hope that you will join us at other events in the future!
Clearly, “confusion” did occur. But another tipster reports that black law students who were not members of BLSA were allowed to attend the event.
Just to be clear, you can’t exclude the public from a public event that is funded with public dollars. Let’s hope BLSA gets the message this time.