In what may be its longest meeting of the term, the Student Bar Association passed the long-debated “Resolution to Improve Diversity and Inclusion at Georgetown University Law Center” Tuesday evening.
While SBA cannot compel administration action, the resolution does lay out a number of specific suggestions. These include “[t]he addition of curriculum addressing the historical and enduring bias of the legal system, and its past and present effects on diverse marginalized communities to all Professional Responsibility courses,” which would add a credit hour to the standard Professional Responsibility course to accommodate diversity education.
The resolution passed amidst a nationwide trend of conversations about race and diversity, especially on campuses including law schools. An activist group called “Reclaim Harvard Law” is currently occupying a student lounge “in a protest against what they see as an unjust institution and an opaque administration.”
Other recommendations include hiring a more diverse faculty, establishing a task force to implement diversification goals, adding sensitivity training into orientation and faculty retreat and “[t]he proactive and timely recognition of threats targeting students, particularly those identifying with diverse and marginalized communities.” The resolution also advocates for the construction of gender-neutral bathrooms in campus buildings, in compliance with District of Columbia regulations. The resolution can be read in its entirety here.
The resolution was first proposed on Dec. 1, 2015 by 1L delegates Ambur Smith and Mike Mazzella. Since then, the resolution has been significantly revised, thanks in part to an ad hoc committee established to perfect it on Feb. 2 of this year.
While the resolution has been substantially revised in terms of precise language and terminology, the core proposals remain the same, according to the sponsors. Some of the issues raised by opponents during the open forum period were the same as well – students raised concerns about the practicality and legality of the proposed alterations to professional responsibility courses, as well as the notion of increased hiring of diverse factory, which one student cautioned could be construed as a quota.
On Tuesday night’s meeting, almost three months after its first proposal, the resolution passed overwhelmingly.
The resolution was endorsed by the the National Lawyer’s Guild, the Black Law Student’s Association, the Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives and the Coalition at Georgetown Law, alongside 56 students, at the time of publication.
SBA also passed three other resolutions during the meeting – one establishing procedures for the selection of delegates in a dual-degree program, another advocating for the release of course syllabi prior to registration, and a third that seeks to allow students to take exams early if their summer job conflicts with exam dates. The consideration of these four resolutions was prefaced by a lengthy open-forum discussion of the recent e-mail controversy in the wake of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
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