It started with “Team Sander.” In November, we told you that some students at UCLA Law School started wearing T-shirts in support of UCLA law professor Richard Sander, whose scholarship is racially divisive. Some people argued that the shirts were not racially motivated, and even some of my colleagues argued that they needed to “know more” about the intentions behind the shirts before they started calling people racist.
Well… now we know more, and “racist” seems like the only appropriate way to describe at least some students at UCLA Law. Now the question becomes: does the law school administration give a crap?
Read on for the disturbing allegations….
After the Team Sander t-shirt controversy, black law students at UCLA organized an awareness campaign, to start a dialogue about the racial climate at the school. Check out this very nice video (which got a nice pick-up from the Huffington Post):
And that somehow pissed off the racists. Really, really pissed them off. But the racist students at UCLA Law didn’t make a YouTube video. Instead, they went with the tried and true tactic of intimidation. First, people started ripping Black Law Student Association posters and flyers off of communal places around campus. Then a student reported a very disturbing story about being accosted in an elevator. Apparently, a student asked a black female UCLA law student “how it is I feel safer in my crime stricken neighborhood than I do at the law school.” Right, because berating women in an elevator is totally something that happens on “safe feeling” campuses.
Enter UCLA Law Dean Rachel Moran, who responded with a school-wide email (reprinted in full on the next page):
It has come to my attention that some individuals may be removing properly posted informational flyers from our bulletin boards.
I am writing to remind you that UCLA School of Law is dedicated to providing an engaging intellectual environment that is respectful and welcoming to all. All material posted on the bulletin boards in our hallways is there to inform our students and the greater community about the important events and activities taking place on this campus. The content of these displays should be respected at all times. Tampering with this material will not be tolerated.
Do you see what is missing from that letter? Multiple tipsters were disappointed with the school’s response. This is a racial problem at the school, and Dean Moran’s memo seems to try to ignore or even hide that fact. I promise you that if students were pulling down photos of Richard Sander, there would be a stronger administrative reaction.
But the tearing down of BLSA posters wasn’t the end of it. Last week, a tipster reported:
Yesterday morning I got an anonymous note in my school mailbox saying, “Stop being a sensitive n**ger.”
I think hate mail is right around the point when the school administration must get seriously involved, even if they were trying to ignore the problem beforehand. In response, Dean Moran sent around another email (reprinted in full on the next page):
It has come to my attention that a disgusting and hateful note was placed in the mailbox of one of our students at the Law School. I am appalled, deeply disappointed, and profoundly pained that a member of our community would be subjected to such an abusive and cruel act.
I want to make very clear that this behavior is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated at UCLA School of Law. A UCLA police investigation is underway, and any student found to have participated in harassment or abuse of any other individual in violation of the UCLA Student Code of Conduct will be subject to University disciplinary proceedings.
Norms of tolerance and civility define us as a community; the breach of those norms is an injury not just to one but to all. Please remember that the way you conduct yourself toward others will define you not just as a professional but as a human being.
I am currently working together with my administration to schedule a safe opportunity for all interested students to join with us in constructive and respectful dialogue on this crucial matter, and will be relaying details shortly.
In response to an inquiry from Above the Law, Dean Moran issued the following statement, expanding on her prior emails:
After we learned that someone had left a racially intimidating note in one law student’s locker, I sent an email out to the entire student body of the law school saying that that I was “appalled, deeply disappointed and profoundly pained” by this unfortunate incident (copy attached). The UCLA police are investigating.
I have also personally emailed the student who was victimized, and my administration has been actively reaching out to black and minority law students to address their feelings of alienation and isolation.
We recognize that racial issues exist across the campus, not just in the law school. In fact, just today Chancellor Block issued a special announcement about the need to redouble our diversity efforts in the wake of Proposition 209, which prohibited affirmative action in admissions at any public college or university in California. At the Law School, my staff and I are taking concrete steps — such as workshops, vigorous outreach and curricular reform — to advance diversity and racial tolerance so that we can enjoy civil dialogue about these very sensitive issues.
Look, you’ve got students sending hate mail to other students on campus. We’re well beyond talk therapy or a “constructive dialogue” about how words are like bullets. The police investigation seems like a step in the right direction. UCLA Law needs to find who is responsible, and probably expel them. Then we can talk about how UCLA let things get to this point in the first place.
Meanwhile, black UCLA Law students have taken to changing their Facebook profile pictures to this:
I’m not sure how many black people have to be pissed off before the law school does something. Then again, this is a law school that employs a professor who teaches basic first-year classes in such a way that the school doesn’t want to put black people in his section. Maybe looking the other way will work for the administration again.
(Flip to the next page for the full text of Dean Moran’s messages, as well as the message from UCLA Chancellor Gene Block about how the UCLA community has been harmed by the end of affirmative action that was instituted by Proposition 209.)