On Friday, we told you that the Northwestern Law School Student Bar Association wanted people to watch their language come exam time. In a letter to all students, the SBA told the student body about the kind of language that would not be tolerated:
Therefore, to be clear, saying things like “that’s so gay”, “that exam raped me”, or any racial or sexual epithet, are inappropriate and unacceptable. Accordingly, we ask that every student be cognizant of the critical role you play in maintaining NUSL’s vibrant diverse, collegial and supportive student culture and refrain from using such language.
The response to the SBA’s email has been overwhelming. Over the weekend, Above the Law readers offered every version of “This [protected class] exam [violated me sexually] in my [orifice of choice]” known to man. If the SBA’s letter was meant to inspire civility and tolerance, it was an epic fail.
Which Northwestern SBA members have taken responsibility for the letter? Which students want to stand by the opinions the board disseminated school-wide?
So far, none of the Northwestern SBA members claim responsibility for the message. In fact, finding a Northwestern student representative is more difficult than finding a job in this depressed economy. Above the Law reached out to the SBA president, but he has not responded to our request for comment.
It’s a bit surprising that after so publicly asking the student body to keep it clean, the SBA is suddenly keeping very quiet. Shouldn’t they use this as an opportunity to disseminate their message to a larger audience?
Others at Northwestern are talking, however. And tipsters tell us that this isn’t the first time that the current SBA has sent around a plea for civility in speech. Details after the jump.
According to Northwestern students, the SBA has been taking its message of political correctness to the Northwestern list-serve as well:
From: Todd Belcore [SBA president]
Date: Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 5:27 PM
Subject: Protecting your belongings and our list-serv.
…. It is a privilege to have an open listserv to facilitate communication and expression amongst the student body. Several other top schools will not have them. Not long ago that the list-serv here was shut down due to abuse. With the listserv comes the expectation that, before sending e-mails to the list-serv, students will consider the possibility that the e-mail could be viewed or forwarded on to parties you did not intend. You’ve probably heard the admonition not to send a message that we would not want our mother or a future employer to read. That expectation is still in place.
That said, there is no attempt to censor or police its contents. The administration does not adopt any of the views expressed on the listserv, and we do not expect the administration to interfere in this forum for student discussion; that is not their role. That responsibility should fall to all of us as students. We have full faith in the ability of our classmates to educate each other should the need arise and, as elected representatives of the student body, we understand that the SBA Executive Board may act when necessary and appropriate. As such, we want to thank you for continuing to educate each other when the need arises. We also want to thank you all for using the identifying e-mail brackets. Also, do not forget that every one is free to follow the protocol (sent via e-mail previously) to filter out list-serv messages. If you do you will still be able to receive important announcements from the administration. If anyone has any ideas about helping with the spam or web development or comments on updating the Esqwire Classifieds, send them to the Listserv Committee. ….
Thanks for your time. We look forward to continuing this great year.
Your Executive Board,
Todd, Abby and Kathy
Is there an epidemic of vulgarity at Northwestern that the SBA is desperately trying to stop? Why is the Northwestern SBA trying to take that freedom away from its students? If I don’t want my mother to hear something, I don’t say it in front of my mother. If, on the other hand, my mother decides to eavesdrop on a conversation I’m having with somebody else, then it is her damn problem if she’s scandalized by things I say. I feel I earned that level of vocal independence when I stopped relying on her for financial support.
Of course, words can hurt. And maybe we need to collectively come up with bad exam language that equally vilifies the white heterosexual male power structure. But this invocation of a mommy-approved lexicon strikes me as just as juvenile as anything.
With the SBA remaining silent, who wants to lead Northwestern law students out of the politically correct word prison? One Northwestern student used the aforementioned listserve to declare his sovereignty:
1) The SBA has attempted to stifle our freedom of expression and concomitantly made us the laughing stock of the legal blog reading world;
2) The current administration’s ultra-liberal immigration policy has made our nation lousy with usurpers it attempts to disguise with various three to five letter acronyms containing the letters JD;
3) Due to a lack of military resources the current government can no longer adequately deal with the threat to our sovereignty posed by white coated interlopers using our library and cafe;
4) The administration has failed to provide H1N1 vaccinations for post-pubescent citizens; and
5) First year students are failing to make themselves “available” to upper class students at a rate high enough to sustain the sexual health of the NUSL nation;
I hereby declare myself Emperor of Northwestern University Law School.
My domain shall extend from that alley between the law school and Wieboldt Hall (henceforth to be known as the Grand Boulevard of Our Beloved Emperor) to Lake Shore Drive, and from Chicago Avenue to Superior Street.
My first official act is to banish all members of the SBA Executive Committee to the Old Harry’s Cafe, any members seen above ground will be subjected to Dr. Guillotin’s horrible invention.
My second decree is to draft all able bodied GLBT students into a militia to be commanded by General [Redacted].
Third, the annual “Global Village” will be replaced with a celebration of our Glorious Revolution, featuring a parade and bear-baiting exposition.
If you are in need of an edict, or have any questions or complaints regarding this announcement or the new regime, please contact my secretary, [Redacted].
If you would like to kiss my ring I will be holding court tomorrow afternoon in the Pritzker Legal Research Center (henceforth to be know as the Reservoir of the People’s Knowledge).
Your Benevolent Monarch
Interestingly, the Benevolent Monarch responded to ATL, filling the information vacuum left by the Northwestern SBA:
Yeah it is a little strange [that the SBA didn't respond]. Everyone is pretty dialed in on finals, but still, you think they would say something. Maybe they’re just hoping it will blow over. I am sort of dreading running into them in the halls though, might be a little awkward considering I declared them enemies of state.
When democracies lose the faith of the people, tyrants reign.