Shockingly, Law School Named For Affirmative Action Opponent Bad At Race And Diversity – Above the Law

Posted: June 24, 2020 at 6:58 am

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As law schools put together their responses to what has clearly become an historic juncture in the countrys long, ignominious history with race, its worth remembering that a law school at a public university went out of its way to rename itself after a guy who thought the Voting Rights Act was a perpetuation of racial entitlement and cited debunked theories about black people needing slower-track school from the bench. At a moment when most institutions are taking a hard look at their role in the wider landscape of racial injustice, its safe to say that ASSLaw is not.

ASSLaw, of course, is the George Mason University School of Law, which renamed itself the Antonin Scalia School of Law at the behest of a wealthy donor under admittedly shady circumstances without taking a second to consider the truly fitting acronym theyd bestowed upon themselves. They attempted to rebrand as the Antonin Scalia Law School, but by then wed all embraced the ASSLaw moniker.

And it seems that the school is content to follow their namesakes lead when it comes to race and diversity.

The school is a mere 2 percent black, an eye-popping number for a public school in Virginia. On a recent conference call discussing the issue, the Dean of Admissions cited the old canard of high academic standards as the reason why the school does not have more black students. Its a justification that would be news to UVA (5.7 percent), Georgetown (9.2 percent), and George Washington (7.8 percent), all demonstrably superior academic institutions that seem to have no problem finding black law students.

In fairness, part of the schools problem is the name itself. When the school made the shift to align itself ideologically with a jurist who spent his tenure pushing racist, sexist, and homophobic tropes onto the national stage we all knew it would create a self-selection diversity problem as minority students inched away from the barely top 50 program when so many alternatives exist. George Masons president, Angel Cabrera, defended the name change at the time with words that were either tragically ironic or nakedly cynical, We must ensure that George Mason University remains an example of diversity of thought, a place where multiple perspectives can be dissected, confronted, and debated for the benefit and progress of society at large. What he got was a school systematically erasing actual diversity. But more conservative professors whose scholarship might not land them work elsewhere get to call the school home and thats a kind of diversity, if a racist one.

But even if the name greatly diminished the pool of black applicants, the attempt to pin the lack of diversity on high academic standards hits at the core of the schools philosophical problem. Its not just that the school doesnt seem to care about diversity, its that they are quick to blame their own institutional shortcomings on black people themselves. As they see it, ASSLaw hasnt failed to recruit students the students failed to be good enough for ASSLaw. Its an exercise in victim blaming that guarantees the school will remain mired at the bottom of diversity rankings until it undergoes a fundamental mindset shift.

For the minority students still braving the ASSLaw ranks, the school isnt performing much better. With Eugene Volokh tossing around racial slurs and throwing tantrums when hes called out for it, you can imagine what a faculty built around Volokh Conspiracy bloggers can get up to. In response to complaints about both professors and students saying unconscionable stuff in class, the school formed a Classroom Dialogue Committee. That certainly sounds like a step in the right direction, but were hearing that many of the professors on the committee have complaints against them for inappropriate comments. Its like letting the inmates run the Ayn Rand School for Objectivist Studies.

And since ASSLaw is just Fosters Home For Right-Wing Troll Friends, the school that cant find any way to admit more black people did manage to bring in Ginni Thomass infamous aide Crystal Clanton who we last caught up with when she was texting co-workers that:

I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all ... I hate blacks. End of story.

Despite this being a well-known incident that led to even Turning Point USA distancing themselves from her, ASSLaw admitted Clanton in another display of the schools deep commitment to promoting an inclusive atmosphere for professional education.

But Clanton has learned to like Clarence Thomas so I guess racism is solved.

At the end of the day, ASSLaw is now the conservative ideology factory that we thought it would be. But George Mason isnt a private school. A public school that cant muster a black student body of more than 2 percent in a state thats roughly 19 percent black is objectively failing at its mission to serve the people of Virginia.

There are definitely bigger issues in Virginia right now than law school administration, but thats no excuse for continued inaction. Someone in state government needs to step in and be the adult in the room because the stunted adolescence of libertarianism certainly isnt producing any leadership from within the school. This is the largest public research university in the state! And yet the law school seems more focused on providing a mill for conservative academics to publish hot takes than building the profession.

Fix it.

Joe Patriceis a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free toemail any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him onTwitterif youre interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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Shockingly, Law School Named For Affirmative Action Opponent Bad At Race And Diversity - Above the Law

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