An Update from the Coalition

Support and Developments
Hello Coalition Supporters,

Thank you for your continued allyship and support. Members of the Coalition met with Deans William Treanor, Jane Aiken, and Mitchell Bailin on Thursday, December 18, 2014 to discuss (at length) our Open Letter and to present our concrete solutions. Select faculty members and a number of representatives from GULC student affinity organizations were also in attendance.

The meeting was productive, candid, and the start of ongoing efforts between the Coalition and GULC Administration to better campus climate for students of all diverse backgrounds. The Coalition’s institutional critiques and concrete solutions were very well received and lauded as creative, focused, and innovative. The Coalition will convene again in January to discuss next steps, and to schedule another meeting with administrators to follow-up on the gains made on December 18.

To quote Georgetown University President John DeGioia, “We need to engage in the work of rebuilding our commonweal; we need to reexamine our commitments to one another; we need to identify concrete projects through which, together, we can build for the common good.”

The Coalition looks forward to engaging in just this type of work in 2015.

In Solidarity,
The Coalition at Georgetown Law

GULC National Lawyers Guild Pens Letter of Support for GULC Coalition

Support and Developments

Dear Coalition Allies and Supporters,

The Georgetown University Law Center’s National Lawyers Guild has penned a public letter of support for the Georgetown Coalition. The statement is provided in full here:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” -Desmond Tutu

The National Lawyers Guild, Georgetown Law Chapter, offers our formal endorsement of “The Open Letter to GULC from Students of Color.” We strongly encourage the administration to meet and respond to the demands made by the Coalition and other student groups.

As members of an organization founded on the premise that human rights are to be held more sacred than property interests, we are appalled that GULC remains a micro- and macro-hostile place for students of color. We echo the Coalition’s call to confront and dismantle the inherently racist aspects of our legal institution that we so rarely even acknowledge.

Georgetown’s current curriculum narrowly prepares students for a career in the law, prioritizing “training for hierarchy” over dismantling systems of oppression. It is imperative that our education better equip us for the struggles facing both our legal system and our communities.

– The Georgetown Law Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild

The GULC National Lawyers Guild mission statement reads:

“We are a student group working to support Georgetown Law students who are trying to stay engaged with the outside world in ways that are different than the typical, firm-bound law student. The NLG is dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system. Seeking to unite lawyers, law students, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and the academic community, the NLG works toward the idea that human rights should be more sacred than property. We aim to bring together all those who recognize the importance of safeguarding and extending the rights of workers, women, farmers, people with disabilities, and people of color, upon whom the welfare of the entire nation depends; who seek to actively eliminate racism; who work to protect our civil rights and liberties in the face of persistent attacks.”

Administrative Responses to the Open Letter from Students of Color

Support and Developments

Dear Coalition Supporters and Allies,

We send a heartfelt thank you for the increasing show of encouragement, love, and solidarity from current students and esteemed alumni. We have received letters of support from a broad spectrum of the Georgetown Law community, including requests for alumni involvement opportunities, press inquiries from peer institutions about the Coalition’s organizing efforts, and offers of financial support for future efforts from campus allies.

Furthermore, GULC Administration responded promptly to our open letter and list of demands. We received correspondences from Deans William M. Treanor and Mitchell Bailin, expressing concern and willingness to meet with members of the Coalition. We include excerpts from their correspondences below.

Excerpt from Dean of GULC, William M. Treanor:

“Dear Members of the Coalition,

Thank you for your open letter. You have expressed important and troubling concerns about the experience of students of color at Georgetown Law and in the broader community, and you have shared thoughtful proposals about action steps the Law Center could take to address those concerns. I and my colleagues in the faculty and senior administration at the Law Center take your concerns very seriously and want to discuss them with you. We look forward to a continuing partnership with you, with our student affinity groups and with the entire student body to ensure this is a safe, inclusive community where all students can thrive and where we regularly and thoughtfully address the most difficult social justice issues of our day.

Excerpt from Dean of Students, Mitchell Bailin:

“Dear Coalition members,

I look forward to joining you and the Dean in coming weeks to discuss your concerns further and identify ways we collectively can make the Law Center a safer and more inclusive place for students of color.

I appreciate that some of you are feeling traumatized by the deeply troubling events that have occurred across the nation over the last few months, feelings perhaps intensified by what you feel has been an inadequate response from the Law Center.  With respect to possible exam deferrals, you should consult directly with the Registrar, Denise Sangster, who evaluates requests for deferral on a case-by-case basis consistent with the exam deferral policy in the 2014-2015 Student Handbook of Academic Policies.”

We thank GULC Administration for responding quickly and with apparent concern. As we formulate next steps, we will keep our supporters and allies abreast of developments. We expect our demands to be taken seriously, and we look forward to what we hope will be the first of a number of productive conversations between the Coalition, GULC Administration, and supporting GULC student organizations and allies, that will lead to tangible outcomes.

In Solidarity,

The Coalition of Students of Color at Georgetown Law 

Excerpts from other supportive correspondences received by the Coalition:

“I think the tireless efforts you have made to push for justice and to address the institutional failings, not only of our criminal justice system, but also Georgetown’s response to it, deserves our support. Please let me know if and how I can help. And please keep up this fight! We desperately need your leadership on this activism-averse campus.” – Current GULC Student

“Please add my email to any listservs of groups that are trying to improve the situation on campus!  I saw the letter to the administration this morning and I could not agree more.”  – Current GULC Student

“I just read your open letter–thought it was great. I’m a recent graduate of Georgetown and wanted to suggest that the Coalition also provide resources for alum. We are constantly asked for donations, and I think maybe a suggested email or list of talking points would be helpful to respond to GULC. I really appreciate the work you are doing, everyday. ” – GULC Alumnus