The Volokh Conspiracy

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George Mason University President Announces Anti-Racism Will Be "Important Component" of Reaccreditation

Can Scalia Law School and the Economics Department declare independence from GMU?


Today, the President of George Mason University sent a community-wide email. Here is an excerpt:

I am pleased to announced that Mason's Reaffirmation Leadership Team, with input from the Mason community, has chosen Transformative Education through Equity and Justice: Anti- Racist Community Engagement as the university's next quality enhancement plan (QEP) proposal. The QEP, which is an important component of our upcoming reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), specifically focuses on improving student learning/student success….The five-year QEP will be rooted in Mason's mission, driven by our institutional assessments, and connected to our Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence initiative. Information and progress updates are located on the QEP website. Because the success of our QEP hinges on the engagement of the entire Mason community—faculty, students, staff, and administrators—I hope you will all contribute as involved partners as we move forward.

Earlier this summer, GMU announced a Task Force on Anti-Racism. The President announced, "I want George Mason University to emerge from this exercise as a local, regional, and national beacon for the advancement of anti-racism, reconciliation, and healing."

Perhaps the President is merely spewing bromides. But if he is serious about these initiatives (and I have every reason to think he is), anti-racism will become a central component of every aspect of the University: hiring, promotion, tenure, pedagogy, scholarship etc. Many of these efforts would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as federal nondiscrimination law. Indeed, Scalia Law School's recent statement in favor of free speech is anti-anti-racist.

Can Scalia Law School (my alma matter) continue to exist within this regime? At some point, Scalia Law School should consider declaring its independence. The Economics Department could join the seccession movement. For decades, these top-ranked programs have been dragged down by the main campus. And since the Scalia naming, there have been increasing tensions with the central administration. Separation could allow both institutions to flourish. The Law School and the Economics Department could pursue academic excellence. And the rest of the University can pursue the Great Awokening. Perhaps amicable terms could be worked out. The Law School and Econ Department could get the Arlington campus. The rest of the University stays in Fairfax. This conscious decoupling may be Pareto Optimal. (Someone will have to explain that concept to the central administration). The new breakaway institution could be called James Buchanan University, after the famous Mason Nobel Laureate. (No, not the President). Or, the Law School can keep George Mason, so the main campus can drop that racist name. Yes, you know at some point there will be a movement to change the name. (My prediction, simply call it GMU University, where GMU does not stand for anything. I suspect the same will happen at GW).

The previous paragraph was written mostly in jest. Mostly.