Tag Archives: news

Professor files defamation grievance against Dean in wake of Scalia e-mails

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On Monday, March 21st, the Law Weekly obtained a Notice of Grievance filed by Law Center Professor Gary Peller against Dean William Treanor with the Georgetown University Grievance Committee.  The Notice of Grievance alleges that Dean Treanor defamed Peller in retaliation for his criticism of Treanor’s public statement issued in the wake of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last month, and demands a public apology and retraction.  The grievance is available in full here.

The grievance comes a few weeks after the flurry of emails that students received in the days following Scalia’s death.  During this exchange, Peller, joined by Professor Mike Seidman, criticized Treanor’s tribute to Scalia, instead offering that “…the unmitigated praise with which the press release described a jurist that many of us believe was a defender of privilege, oppression and bigotry, one whose intellectual positions were not brilliant but simplistic and formalistic.”  

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SBA Passes Resolution on Diversity and Inclusion

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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.”

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UPDATED: Professors dispute Dean’s messaging regarding Justice Scalia

UPDATE:  According to Above the Law, Professor Peller sent an email, “Mitigating Defamatory Assertions,” to all faculty, insisting that his initial message was not in violation of the Campus Broadcast policy. He revealed that he had communicated with Professor Barnett on the charge.  The latest communication, sent by an faculty member, replies “Please, please, PLEASE stop. At the very least, please omit me from further communications.”

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away on Saturday, February 13 while on a hunting trip in Texas.  Almost immediately, tributes poured out (including one from our Sports Editor) and controversy erupted over the man and his inevitable successor to the nation’s highest court.  Controversy of a different sort broke out among Georgetown Law’s faculty as well.

It all started for Georgetown Law students with an e-mail sent on Tuesday afternoon, while students were enjoying a few days off and faculty were participating in the annual Faculty Retreat.  The Campus Broadcast system, usually used for event announcements, invitations and policy changes, delivered the message from Professors Gary Peller and Mike Seidman to all members of the student body.

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Georgetown Law Mental Health Alliance responds to student survey

October 10 marked World Mental Health Day, a reminder that mental health issues are present on all law school campuses, and the legal profession as a whole.    Students are mobilizing on campus to help combat mental health problems.  The Georgetown Law Mental Health Alliance (GLMHA) is a newly established organization at the Law Center, and both its founder and President have a series of plans to help law students deal with mental health problems.

“Through a student survey of more than 130 people that we collected in the spring of 2015, we discovered some troubling statistics about mental health in the student body: 82% of those surveyed has experienced stress or anxiety causing cognitive disruptions, 55.5% has experienced depression, 17.2% have had suicidal thoughts or ideations and 11.7% have abused drugs or alcohol,” Quinnie Lin, the founder of GLMHA, said: “Unfortunately, almost 90% of students did not know whom to see at Georgetown Law to seek advice on bar disclosure requirements regarding mental health conditions and treatments.”

GLMHA has put the report of the student survey on the the Student Bar Association’s website. The report reveals mental health issues were caused by students’ feelings of extreme pressure and isolation in the competitive environment of law school. What’s more, many students said that students often experienced two or three weeks of wait time for counseling services, which is much too long for them to struggle to find help when they are most in need. The report also found : students who have seen the counselors at Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) have mixed feelings about the care that they received, but have no way to providing feedback. Additionally, students felt that the physical space of CAPS, which is located in the basement of the Gewirz Student Center, is not conducive to the privacy that they need. Finally, the report addressed the need to provide students with more support during the medical leave process.

In the wake of such a serious report regarding mental health on campus, GLMHA President Briana Pigott said: “It is our mission to serve as a welcoming and inclusive group that works to destigmatize mental health issues on campus and encourage those who are suffering to seek the resources they need.  GLMHA seeks to create a community of law students who provide support to one another and work with the administration to improve the mental health resources available to students at Georgetown Law.” Recently, GLMHA planned to hold a dialogue about the unique challenges presented by the competitive law school environment and come up concrete solutions in order to help students thrive.

Starting conversations to give all students a platform to learn and share their experiences with respect to mental health issues is one of their most important plans. GLMHA  also offers an informal support network, with the goal of creating a stronger community and servingas a reference to mental health resources. Lin added another goal: “[T]o continue working with the administration to achieve the recommendations that we outlined in the report, such hiring a new therapist, training faculty and administrators to be more sensitive to mental health issues, creating a better physical space for CAPS and taking a closer look at the medical leave process is also significant.”.

The GLMHA will hold an event with members of the DC Bar’s Lawyer Assistance Program in November..

Finally, if believe you are suffering from mental illness, do not hesitate to reach out to GLMHA at glmentalhealthalliance@gmail.com.

By Zhen Liu

New web service caters to grad students seeking summer housing

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Georgetown Law students have a new way to find housing for their summer jobs, courtesy of their classmates.

The new web service, called Roamer, facilitates an online marketplace for students seeking short-term summer housing during their summer jobs and internships, a process that was formerly chaotic and informal.

Roamer was created by Alexander Galicki and Kentaro Murase (L’15) during their time at Georgetown Law, their business a product of StartUpHoyas Summer Launch Program.   Frustrated by their difficulties finding summer housing during law school, Galicki and Murase decided to be the solution to the problem, instead of just complaining about it.  They came up with an idea and found a program to get started with.

StartupHoyas is a program open to any Georgteown undergraduate or grad school student.  According to Galicki, most of the other participants in the program were McDonough Business School students, although they were not the only law students there.  Galicki said that he was inspired by PayPal co-founder and Stanford Law alumnus Peter Thiel, as well as Georgetown Law alumnus Chris Sacca, who have been key investors in some of today’s most important tech startups like Airbnb and Uber.

One benefit of the StartupHoyas program, according to Galicki, was the influence that other class participants had on Roamer and its business plan.  Developing their business among a group of like-minded entrepreneurs challenged Galicki and Murase to think to the future.

Galicki and Murase were undaunted by their lack of technical knowledge.  In fact, Roamer was easy to develop for them – the software was adapted from a service that allows the creation of online storefronts.  At present, the website only accepts registrants with .edu or corporate email addresses.  Markets currently served include major legal markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Austin and, of course, Washington.  Users can sort listings by price, size, and date.

The listings appear similar to the postings that many Georgetown students are accustomed to seeing on their Facebook feeds, but with Roamer, they are presented in a way which allows buyers to parse through dozens of options quickly.  On the more organized Roamer, listings are accompanied by more in depth testimonials, photographs, and location and timing information.

Initially, the developers believed that creating the website would be more difficult than maintaining it.  However, in practice, they have found the opposite to be true.  “We thought that once the website was created, people would just come.  But even if you have a good concept that people would want to use, you have to spread the word through marketing and advertising.” Galicki said.

Currently, Roamer’s developers are working on a second prototype, building on feedback that they have received over the last six months.  Roamer is also looking to continue its trend of expansion.

Roamer is available at http://www.roamer.io.

New Professor Profile: Yvonne Tew

Professor Tew sits in her new office on the fourth floor of McDonough, only a few picture frames adorning the shelves. The window looks out over the library, inevitably catching some of the 1L students from her Constitutional Law course hustling over to cram in a few hours of work before Bar Review. Tew ponders the question posed to her for a few moments, carefully considering her inevitably eloquent words.

“It is your first year, it is going to be a lot of work so yeah, work hard. But also, just be open and be curious about this legal world that you are now exploring for the first time. Both in terms of the intellectual curiosity in the classroom, but also on a broader scale.” This curiosity, both in regards to the legal profession and also a greater understanding of social and cultural pursuits, is exactly what has allowed Tew to thrive thus far and has created a dynamic professor for Georgetown Law.

Global Legal Learning:

Professor Tew began her legal studies at University of Cambridge in 2004, where she received an undergraduate degree in Law. After winning a scholarship awarded to the top two final-year law graduates from the University of Cambridge admitted to Harvard Law, Tew continued her legal education in another Cambridge, this time in Massachusetts. Tew joined the L.L.M. program at Harvard Law in 2007, an environment that she thrived in.

“It was really exciting for me to be able to do all of these courses from a U.S. perspective. I did constitutional law, I did sex equality with Catharine MacKinnon, I also cross-registered with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government which was a fascinating interdisciplinary approach that I did less of during my Law degree at Cambridge.” Tew raved about the experience of being able to study a broad range of issues, something she noted partly fueled her interest in legal academia and law teaching.

Professor Tew followed a growing interest in comparative constitutional law back to University of Cambridge where she graduated with her Ph.D. in that subject as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. After her Ph.D., Tew decided to return to New York City after her Ph.D. to work as an Associate-in-Law and Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School. The current Georgetown professor had already worked as an attaché at the Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the United Nations in New York and passed the New York Bar Exam in 2009, allowing herself to become familiar with the city. This two year program, professor Tew noted, was designed for young academics to hone their skills as teachers, researchers, and writers.

After two years at Columbia, Tew moved on to another program less than ten miles away with vastly different goals. “The Hauser Global Fellowship [at NYU Law] is a research fellowship, so you don’t have to teach. It was a one year fellowship designed with a global focus. The fellows were from all over the world, which was really fascinating.”

Professor Tew’s research is heavily focused on constitutional questions in a global sense, with work covering constitutional adjudication in Southeast Asia, forced marriage, as well as an upcoming paper titled Arbitrating God. Tew noted that her ability to switch seamlessly from writing about different political systems derives largely from her diverse educational background.

More to the point, however, it seems that Professor Tew’s insatiable curiosity drives the research that she has done. When discussing comparative constitutional law, the relatively reserved Tew can hardly hold back her passion for her work. The excited scholar gleefully described how she came upon the topic of her last paper, comparing originalism in the U.S. and other nations.

While focusing on her scholarship on constitutional rights protection in Southeast Asia, Tew was struck the use of originalist arguments by courts in the region. She noted a continuing trend and earmarked it as her next project.  “I engaged with it [scholarship on originalism] deeply, but I found myself trying to see what others had said about comparative originalism. I found that they had either said A, nothing, or B, when they did say anything about comparative originalism, they would essentially say ‘well that doesn’t happen anywhere else.’ I kept thinking, well that’s interesting, but that is not quite true so maybe I’ll write something about that.”

Professor Tew’s academic experiences seem to be defined by this type of sequence, where her curiosity drives her towards continued accomplishments.

Life beyond the Law:

The global interests and desire for knowledge that propel professor Tew through her academic career carry over into her life outside of the law. Tew excitedly discusses her favorite places to travel, wine regions that she has particularly enjoyed, and her love of trying and perfecting new types of food. “I can get a little bit intense with trying the best way to do something, but when I find it then I have the recipe! I like finding interesting and fun new places to taste and try different cuisines.”

Professor Tew’s work has brought her to conferences in Venice, Thailand, Australia, and the admittedly less exotic Victoria, Canada. She has journeyed to many places in South America, Europe and Asia, among others, out of her own interest. Greece may be a favorite, because it offers both intellectually stimulating sites and stunning beaches. Professor Tew also often visits Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, in part because of a love of the local food.

As with her varied interests within the legal field, professor Tew seems to be a master of her hobbies, ambitious to learn and experience as much as she can. A short 11 years after beginning her legal education as an undergraduate student at University of Cambridge, Professor Tew has accomplished a great deal. Her scholarship on comparative constitutional law is well-published and much respected. Her inner ambition, versatility, and pure curiosity have driven her to a high level of success, but this seems to be just the beginning.

You may catch Professor Tew teaching Constitutional Law to first year students, on the fourth floor of McDonough Hall intently researching a new interest or at a jazz concert. Be especially wary, however, if you are in a used records shop. As Tew said, “I like vinyls, so you may see me in a second hand vinyl shop flipping through the stacks.”

SBA Election Results – Increased Turnout and Nominations

The results are in.

Election returns are available on the SBA website, here.

This year’s SBA elections had a higher turnout in many sections when compared to last year’s data.  For example, the 2014 race in Section 5 saw 105 ballots cast, while this year the votes exploded up to 141.  Other sections had modest increases or stayed approximately the same.  The only section to decrease turnout was Section 1, which dropped by 50%.  One possible explanation is that there were only two candidates, meaning both would be elected by default.

Across all other sections this year, SBA saw more nominations.  Each section had at least six candidates.  The contest was so close in Section 4 that a run-off election was needed to elect a second delegate.

There were also some amusing write-in responses this year, including a Section 2 vote cast for Donald Trump.

Here are the winners –

E1/Section 7:

  • Ata Akiner
  • Katharine Gibson

Section 1:

  • Zachary Martinez
  • Joshua Spielman

Section 2:

  • Jeffery Gary
  • Rachel Jackson

Section 3:

  • Ambur Smith
  • Michael Mazzella

Section 4:

  • Shaina Vinayek
  • John Bardo

Section 5:

  • Joshua Branch
  • Soowan Choi

LLM:

  • Zwei Zhao
  • Mario Valencio Concha
  • Ben Akech

Transfer:

  • Jacob Wittman Maillard