The Precarious State of the Georgetown University Law Center


The Georgetown University Law Center is one of the top-ranked law schools in the country. And throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have many interactions with GULC. I presented there a dozen times, have published in three of their journals, and am a non-resident scholar at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution. But if GULC continues on its current trajectory, I may no longer be able to speak, publish, or affiliate with the university. To be sure, Georgetown is not the only law school in such a precarious state. Rather, Georgetown is a canary in the coal mine. Recent events have revealed dangerous trends in legal academia.

Let's start with the incident involving Professors Sandra Sellers and David Batson. GULC students shared a 40-second clip of the pair talking. 

I've since learned some more context about the recording. At this point in the semester, the class had already drawn to a close. Sellers and Batson were in the process of grading the final assignments. And, like most people today, they were using Zoom to discuss their work. The professors were having what they thought was a confidential discussion about grades. Sellers said:

"You know what? I hate to say this. I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks — happens almost every semester. And it's like, 'Oh, come on.' You know? You get some really good ones. But there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy."

However, Sellers and (the aptly named) Batson didn't realize that their discussion would be saved on the Georgetown streaming server. The 40-second clip came around the 1:13:00 mark of a lengthy meeting. (You can see the timestamps on the left side of the screen.) Apparently, the video was on the server for about two weeks, and no one noticed. Then, at some point, one student found it, and shared the clip with others. And the recording snowballed from there.

I think the most important word in Sellers's brief remarks is "angst." Why does Sellers have angst? She does not say, but we can speculate about several possibilities. Perhaps she was concerned about performance by black students and would like them to do better, but didn't know how to help. Or she may be doubting herself about why Black students are not performing better

There is another possibility. I think all professors–especially those in small classes without blind grading–are tuned into the campus culture concerning race. A professor who gives lower grades to Black students may be seen as giving lower grades because the students are Black. Under anti-racism teaching, unequal results are prima facie evidence of systemic racism. Sellers may have angst because she is worried that her grading will be viewed as racist. These fears may be what "drives [her] crazy." Sellers may have been articulating a worry that all academics face: how would you handle allegations of racism, and minority students underperforming? If Sellers had this fear, her concerns were well-founded. The mere discussion of racial disparities in grading resulted in her immediate termination. This decision poses a dilemma. If it is impossible to discuss race-based disparities in grading, how can those disparities be addressed? The answer, of course, is that those issues can be discussed–but only by those with the proper motivations.

Consider the Georgetown Law Journal. (I published in GULC's flagship journal in 2019). There are three ways to join the journal. First, 50% of members "will be selected solely on the basis of their Write On packet scores." The policy states that "[t]he Write On packet score will weight students' case comment score 60% and their Bluebook test 40%." For this first category, grades play no part in the process. Second, 20% of members "will be selected on the basis of a formula that weighs Write On scores and grades equally." And third, 30% of members "will be selected solely on the basis of a Personal Diversity Statement, provided that they have reached a certain threshold score on their Write On submission." For this category, grades play no role in admission. And, presumably, the "threshold" for the Write On score in the third category is lower than the threshold in the first category. The Journal explains that "[t]he exact threshold score will vary from year to year, dependent on both the number of candidates who participate in the Write On Competition and the number of candidates who opt-in to apply to GLJ." In short, nearly a third of the members will be admitted entirely on the basis of a diversity statement, without regard to grades, and who are likely subject to a lower Write On packet threshold. 

This policy did not emerge out of thin air. Rather, I suspect the editors crafted these three specific paths after much deliberation. And part of those deliberations likely reflected a conversation on how to admit a more diverse class of members. Imagine for a moment, if you will, a potential conversation between three editors.

Editor A: We need to increase the number of minority members on the journal.

Editor B: I agree. But our current policy is not yielding the critical mass we need.

Editor C: You're right. There are not enough minority applicants who can "grade on" to the journal. 

Editor A: I know. It gives me angst when I review a minority student's application and see a low class rank. It drives me crazy!

Editor B: I have an idea. What if we admit a third of the members without regard to grades, based solely on the diversity statement. That process will let us admit more qualified minority members. 

Editor C: But what about the write-on? Shouldn't we ensure that members have some minimal qualifications to write a case note and to bluebook?

Editor A: Well, we can consider the diversity statement alongside the Write On score. And we can adopt the same threshold that we use for traditional write-on students.

Editor B: I am not so sure. I fear that threshold may be too restrictive, and reduce the number of minority members.

Editor C: We can adopt a lower threshold for the diversity statement applicants.

Editor A: Hold on. We can't put that in our policy. What if we say something like, "[t]he exact threshold score will vary from year to year, dependent on both the number of candidates who participate in the Write On Competition and the number of candidates who opt-in to apply to GLJ." That language gives us some wiggle room, and will allow our successors flexibility to vary the level from year to year.

Editor B: Agreed. 

Editor A: This solution will address my angst.

Here, the imagined editors discussed the racial disparities in grading. And, I suspect, this conversation would be completely acceptable because they had the correct motivations. Admissions officers at schools nationwide no doubt have these sorts of conversations on a daily basis, with respect to undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores of minority students. Again, these discussions are permissible when used to promote certain goals. 

Now, I don't think Professor Sellers was talking about race in the same context as our three imagined editors. Her off-the-cuff, out-of-context remarks failed to register the right anti-racist tones. But, at bottom, she expressed concern of what would happen if Black students performed at the bottom of her class.

Dean Treanor said he fired Professor Sellers for "engag[ing] in a conversation that included reprehensible statements concerning the evaluation of Black students." As best as I can tell, the investigation was limited to watching the video, and asking Sellers to explain her statement. The Dean did not conduct any investigation to determine what grades Sellers gave to Black students. Nor was there an investigation into whether Sellers graded Black students unfairly. The termination was based entirely on Sellers's private conversation that was inadvertently recorded. I agree with Eugene that this termination is inconsistent with the University's policies on free speech.

Shortly after Dean Treanor terminated Professor Sellers, he sent an email to the Georgetown community. A current student forwarded it to me. Treanor proposed several "items that will be implemented in the next few months."

First, the Dean is considering whether he should make "non-discrimination training . . . programs mandatory for all faculty." At present, "non-discrimination and anti-harassment training is required for new full-time hires." At most universities, all employees are required to take many types of training. For example, I have to take an annual Title IX course. The instruction is fairly routine. I read some slides, answer some questions, and move on. I suspect Georgetown employees are already required to complete such mundane training. 

Dean Treanor, however, may have other types of classes in mind. Anti-racist training, which is gaining in currency, takes on a very different form. Here, employees are required to have that difficult "conversation" about race. In general, conversations are two-way exchanges. But these exercises are often one-way monologues. There is a dogma, and the failure to accept that dogma is prima facie evidence of racism. I imagine that many tenured faculty members will chafe at having to attend these sorts of indoctrination sessions. But the old guard may not be able to resist the sweeping currents.

Second, the administration "will be re-examining the past teaching evaluations of all faculty currently teaching, starting with the past three years." Presumably, the re-examination can go beyond three years. Dean Treanor explains that "[t]his second look will allow us to ensure that we have responded appropriately to any reports of discrimination or harassment."

I always read my teaching evaluations very carefully. Over the past decade years, I have read north of 1,000 evaluations. And I am one of the few professors who shares his evaluations. Still, these submissions are of very, very limited utility. These comments are anonymous, and are usually completed towards the end of the semester when students are stressed and unhappy. In my experience, the students who leave the most detailed comments are those who are most aggrieved. Now, all of my classes are on YouTube. It is very simple for an aggrieved student to provide a time-stamp when they complain about something specific. But they never do. Rather, the anonymous comments invariably refer to some nebulous conduct at some indeterminate time that bothered them. I struggle, mightily, to determine what exactly the student is referring to. Sometimes I figure it out. Other times I have no clue.

Now, consider the GULC policy. An administrator will review 3-year old anonymous evaluations to find any allegations of "discrimination or harassment." Imagine another conversation.

Associate Dean X: Professor Y, in 2018, a student wrote you made an "inappropriate comment" about race when you were teaching affirmative action cases. 

Professor Y: That class was three years ago. I have no clue what the student was referring to.

Associate Dean X: Well, we still need to address the comment, whatever it is. We'd like you to attend an anti-racism counseling session.

Professor Y: How is that fair?

Associate Dean X: Perception is sometimes more important than reality. You need to address how students perceive you, regardless of how you actually behaved.

Going forward, students will now be able to weaponize teaching evaluations. They get a free shot to make anonymous, unsubstantiated attacks on professors. Tenured professors in the past have been able to safely ignore teaching evaluations. No longer. An untenured professors will dread receiving a scarlet R in their evaluations. Fortunately, the current semester is on Zoom. In theory at least, Deans can ferret out false reports by going through recordings. But that process is too labor-intensive. And punishment may be doled out based on the flimsiest of evidence. This second policy is either a complete farce, or absolutely chilling. I am leaning towards virtue signaling, but time will tell.

Third, the Dean will "provid[e] grants for faculty members who wish to work over the summer to develop curricular materials addressing racial justice, racial inequities, and the experiences and agency of traditionally marginalized groups." The Dean explains that he is "especially interested in developing new materials that can be incorporated into the courses they and others already teach." Translation: a required course on critical racial studies. The Dean writes:

For example, the SBA, BLSA, and our other affinity groups have recommended that the Law Center mandate a critical race theory unit in all first-year criminal justice courses, and consider establishing a two-credit racial justice requirement for all students. At the start of the academic year [that is, before the Sellers incident], I charged the Academic Standards Committee with considering this proposal; they hope to make a recommendation to the faculty by the end of this academic year. 

A handful of other other schools have adopted this mandatory class. Georgetown is likely next. Again, these classes are not about having a conversation. Students will understand that there is a right answer and a wrong answer to contested issues of social policy. And if you hold the wrong views, you are a racist. Imagine a student who champions Justice Thomas's views of affirmative action. Instead of receiving an F, perhaps shunned students will have to wear a Scarlet R.

The Dean alludes to a fourth change that is "not a matter of decanal authority and will take time." Treanor writes, "Other student requests include making faculty attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion an explicit part of our tenure standards, hiring practices, and salary reviews." Treanor said he was "beginning conversations about those requests with the relevant faculty committees as part of the Law Center's faculty governance processes." 

Generally, tenure standards are premised on three factors: scholarship, teaching, and service (such as serving on committees, etc.). These categories are broad, but they allow faculty members to gain tenure by pursuing a wide range of intellectual pursuits. Professors can write about what they want, teach how they want, and perform service according to their judgment about what is in the best interest of the school. But at all junctures, professors can choose their own adventure. The tenure process is stressful, but liberating. 

Treanor's change would radically alter this three legged stool. When a Dean says "diversity, equity, and inclusion," he is referring to very specific ideological commitments. "Diversity" does not mean diversity of thought. This fourth leg would mandate conformity of thought at every stage of the tenure process. Professors will no longer have the autonomy to challenge dogmas and pursue truth and knowledge as they see it. There will be lines that cannot be crossed. "Equity" does not refer to equality in the sense that people ought to be treated equally. Rather, anti-racism requires unequal treatment to address inequality. Professors who disagree with that dogma, and view anti-racism as racist, will be excoriated. And "inclusion" requires the exclusion of ideas inconsistent with diversity and equity. This proposal would allow the University to deny tenure to a professor because of insufficient commitment to anti-racist ideals. Indeed, a tenured professor could be disciplined for committing some sort of ill-defined microaggression. And potential hires would be required to adopt a very specific understanding of social issues, or be immediately disqualified. And do not think these forms of retribution are limited to conservative faculty members. Recently, the CUNY Law Dean–the wokest of wokes–cancelled herself for a single comment. (I will discuss that incident in due course).

Thankfully, Dean Treanor lacks the unilateral authority to make these changes. But how can the professors on the relevant committees say no? The Dean already signaled that he wants to move in this direction. And students will pressure the relevant professors to rubber stamp the changes. After all, what professor would want to be seen as part of systemic racism. Generally, matters of faculty governance are not disclosed to students until the internal processes are complete. But the Dean jumped the gun. By announcing the policy, Treanor settled the matter.

The Georgetown University Law Center is in a precarious state. Junior faculty members will be required to conform to standards inconsistent with free thought and exchange. Senior faculty members who resist will be forced out, quietly or overtly. And the most outraged students now have absolute control over the law school. Any demand they make, no matter how unreasonable, must be accommodated. Again, GULC is the canary in the coal mine. These changes will soon trickle down throughout the rankings–unless an administration is willing to say no to groups. I doubt many deans have that intestinal fortitude to say a student's offense is unreasonable. Indeed, their own jobs may be on the line. I fear for the state of the legal academy.

NEXT: Apparent Unconstitutional Race Discrimination in School Reopening Plan

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So a total guess as to Prof. Sellers’ motives for her comments, and two imaginary discussions. In this novel you are writing in your head, it would appear that GULC is in trouble.

    1. The campaign against GULC should begin. End its exemption. Cut off its funds, then shut it down. To deter.

      1. Are you proposing armed robbery? By what method are you going to “cut off its funds”?

        1. And, exactly how does he suggest that its exemption– I’m guessing he means its tax advantaged status– be revoked? Perhaps all tax advantage status should be revoked. That’s an idea worth discussing.

          1. The Non-Profit Office can revoke its tax exemtion. The purpose is education. In education, all sides of a suject are covered. Any viewpoint discrimination is indoctrination, and not supported. No tax support for leftist indoctrination.

            The same idea applies to all tax funded grants, loans, funding, accreditations. The ABA accreditation itself is authorized by the Dept. of Education. That should be revoked. Then bill them for real estate taxes. Their defrauding of the government justifies the seizure of their endowment in civil forfeiture.

            They are free to indoctrinate, just not at taxpayer expense.

            1. “Their tax exempt status should be revoked because of viewpoint discrimination and they are all Commie feminists case PC”


            2. “Their defrauding of the government justifies the seizure of their endowment in civil forfeiture. ”

              So you DO advocate armed robbery, then.

        2. Ending the Federal loan money comes to mind.

      2. You are a raving lunatic.

    2. I will agree that there was a total guess about Prof Seller’s motives. But the actual article is about Dean Treanor’s reaction. Treanor’s response is well documented and requires no guesswork. It was both wildly inappropriate and (and this is the entire point of this article) fundamentally unworkable. The two imaginary discussions illustrate why Treanor’s reaction is unworkable.

      Since Treanor’s reaction has not been retracted or even significantly challenged, yes, GULC is in trouble.

      1. I’m not really in favor of anything Dean Treanor is doing here, but it all seems eminently workable to me. I don’t see how the imaginary conversations prove otherwise. As to how much trouble GULC is in, I suppose time will tell.

        1. For some people arguments they pretend they made are unassailable. All the evidence they need can be found in their imaginations. Perhaps this is such a case.

  2. Dude. You teach at a law school so bad that it got sued for trying to steal the name of another (and still mediocre!) law school.

    These incidents don’t exactly cover Georgetown in glory, but let’s be realistic about where things stand.

    1. Let’s be clear here. Apparently Georgetown’s IT department is secretly recording professors discussing grading decisions, and then storing them on an open-access server where random students can listen to the entire thing.

      1. Let’s be clear here. If Georgetown professors are discussing grading decisions on Zoom calls, then having students hear them isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a surprise.

      2. My impression from Prof. Blackman’s summary is that the conversation happened at the end of the broadcast of a class, after the students had logged off (or been logged off), but before the session had been ended.

      3. Let’s be clear here. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t work at and haven’t attended a college in a while, correct?

    2. Dude, your profession is utter in its every self stated goal, save one, tent seeking. That is a toxic stealthy variant of armed robbery.

      1. Well, who among us is not an utter tent seeker?

        1. I agree. No human can self regulate. The lawyer profession must br crushed to be saved.

          1. A raving lunatic says what?

      2. You’re a raving lunatic.

    3. “…a law school so bad that it got sued for trying to steal the name of another (and still mediocre!) law school.”

      “Bad” as defined by whom, and by what criteria?

      I like to remind people that it was only 22 years from the “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline (and the iconic picture taken at a railroad station) and the Penn Central Bankruptcy. No one in 1948 could possibly have imagined how much rail would have imploded by 1970 — but in hindsight, one can see the roots of its failure being there in 1948.

      And it wasn’t just new technology — trucks are more labor intensive, it takes two trucks (and two truck drivers) to carry the load of one boxcar. And but for the ABA’s artificial monopoly, half the students currently in law school wouldn’t be.

      So who’s saying that GULC *is* (as opposed to “was”) “good”?

      1. ” but for the ABA’s artificial monopoly, half the students currently in law school wouldn’t be.”

        Another monopoly that doesn’t technically exist in reality.

  3. Wow.

    I hadn’t realized the conversation was a private conversation quite like this. Not a group session, or even someone accidentally signing on and listening.

    But a private conversation, where they entire thing was recorded and stored? And Georgetown is doing that for ALL Zoom calls? Where apparently random students can find them and download them at watch the entire thing? What type of horrible IT policy is this?

    Where professors can have an hour long discussion over grading, and students can access the confidential information and listen to the entire thing?

    That’s frightening. What else is on that Georgetown streaming server that’s confidential and can be taken out of context?

    1. Good thing FERPA doesn’t have a lot of teeth if this is true….

    2. Why shouldn’t students have insight into grading? You want it to be as transparent as possible.
      Back when I was teaching, an institutional goal was to have every student understand the grade they received thoroughly. This meant that once all the exams were in. I’d go through and explain what the right answers were, and why the right answers were right and why other answers were not. This has a valid educational purpose besides keeping the customers happy; reviewing the exam was one last opportunity to get the right answers into the long-term memory of the students. People tend to remember the answers they missed on the test even more than the answers they got right.

      1. Because you’re giving one student insight into ANOTHER student’s grading.

        1. law schools grade competititively. A decision about another student’s grading inherently effects all the other students in the class.

  4. Hypothetically, if a professor were fired for *not* being a racist, would that be illegal? It would be illegal for the school to *be* racist, but can it insist that its employees be such?

  5. The question in my mind is how did this 45 second clip of an 1+ hour long conversation get vetted and pulled out. Did some ‘student’ actually pull down random files (presumably lawfully) off a server and just go on a fishing expedition? Or is there something more nefarious going on here like automated transcripts? I mean it is literally ‘finding a needle in a haystack’ to go through hours of conversation to find one gotcha moment like this. I know Media Matters pays an army of people to do this with right wing sources, but is the same thing going on here for college sources? If so, the manufactured outrage people are more deeply entrenched then most would acknowledge.

    As for the actual merits of this case, there are none. It is obvious the crime here in mere observation and saying it out loud. “Equity” is not about equal opportunity but simply covering up disparities in our endless quest to try to make everyone, based upon a particular set of classes, look like they are equal.

    People are not stupid and blind though. How many folk are going to be signing up for the black lawyer from Georgetown who supposed graduated at the top of the class knowing that grades are most likely greatly inflated for certain races? I think we all know the answer…

    1. “If so, the manufactured outrage people are more deeply entrenched then most would acknowledge.”

      Seems to be the ordinary, original-flavor outrage. Someone played the meeting, heard something, went back and said “wait, really?” and then started telling people what they’d heard and how anyone else could hear it, too.

      1. Why was someone playing the meeting? Just someone browsing around? Downloading random files for fun? Seems like an odd coincidence…

        1. Perhaps they were waiting on a grade, and wanted to hear how the progress on grading was going. It’s the sort of thing I’d have been interested in.

          1. OK we will go with “waiting on a grade” here….

            Assuming the server was open access and anyone could just go on and download conversation is that where their curiosity lead them? “Hey Zoom conversations are recorded let me check to see what my prof is up to….maybe they will have a hint about when grades get released….” Seems not very likely.

            Perhaps the student was looking for a course lecture and stumbled across this video? Or someone was just really bored and wanted to see if there was anything “juicy” in these recorded conversations? (Think this might be more likely…)

            Also, it is horrible IT policy just to leave these open on a server and it is also a stretch to assume these were accessed legally.

            Something smells really rotten here…

            1. OR someone in the IT department leaked it — possibly someone hired to fill a quota and with nothing to do. I’ve seen lots of such people in Higher Ed.

              They, not the students, are the ones fueling much of this “woke” stuff…

              1. And are ‘they’ out to get you, Ed?

            2. “Seems not very likely.”

              It is not reality’s job to conform to your expectation(s).

        2. What’s so complicated? There are people who spend all their free hours digging for something to be outraged about. It can even lead to a good job working for social media censorship departments.

          1. “What’s so complicated? There are people who spend all their free hours digging for something to be outraged about.”

            Indeed. Most of them work for right-wing media, following the late Mr. Limbaugh’s programming outline.

    2. “the manufactured outrage people are more deeply entrenched then most would acknowledge.”

      They are — and it’s like playing the lottery. The one who found this won a jackpot and will be rewarded accordingly with bigger & better setaside handouts. You can be assured that the manufactured outrage people know who it was, and that person is quietly basking in the glory.

      Besides, what do you think all the quota hires do all day? It isn’t like they are actually qualified to actually do the jobs they purportedly were hired to do. So they instead cause trouble.

      1. ” The one who found this won a jackpot and will be rewarded accordingly with bigger & better setaside handouts.”

        What the Holy Fuck are you talking about?
        You know what, it’s Ed, so don’t bother.

        1. He wants a setaside quota for Conservatives in faculty. He’s describing his dream job. No actual work to do, just be outraged every day. He’s trying to show how good he would be at that kind of job.

    3. “I know Media Matters pays an army of people to do this with right wing sources, but is the same thing going on here for college sources?”

      You’re thinking of Campus Watch.

      1. No Media Matters…

        “Media Matters for America put in place, for the first time, the means to systematically monitor a cross section of print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for conservative misinformation”

        1. you’re complaining that someone is paying attention, for the first time, to Conservative bullshit.

  6. Seems the lesson here is that institutions like Georgetown and Zoom are not to be trusted with private discussions. It makes me wonder how many patents Google filed given they scan supposedly for advertising and it’s clear that assumed private emails are not private. We now clearly know that communications assumed to be private on Zoom are not. There’s a difference between public tweets and nominally private meetings.

    1. “Seems the lesson here is that institutions like Georgetown and Zoom are not to be trusted with private discussions.”

      Why would you think a Zoom call is a good place to have private discussions? Hint: Other people can hear your CB radio conversations, too.

      1. And back when cell phones were analog, they could re-tune an old TV to listen to them, too. It wasn’t legal, but it was done…

        1. It’s almost like broadcasting things you want to keep secret is a bad plan.

      2. A Zoom call on a company’s Zoom license no less.

        1. Which makes it a the company’s property – – – – – – – –

      3. Zoom does say on their homepage they are; “Keeping you securely connected wherever you are.” If it’s open and available to all and sundry where exactly does the “securely” part come into play?

        1. Perhaps they mean “securely connected” only in the sense that the you won’t lose the connection.

          1. Lol, I suppose that’s possible but given the number of times I’ve had either myself or others dropped from Zoom calls and meetings, it seems implausible they can make that claim either.

  7. Who is this for, Josh? Why should anyone read this claptrap?

  8. “Why Sellers have angst? She does not say”

    Because she is unable to teach effectively to her black students on an apparently consistent basis.

  9. Nip, nip, nip, nip, nip
    Right-wing law professors nip
    At betters’ ankles

  10. She should just be happy she didn’t get caught “Toobin”. 😉

  11. this exchange was a factual statement that her black students were not doing as well as she had hoped. she was troubled by this. Professors should not be fired for making factually accurate statements. The Dean should be the one who is fired for caving to irrational reaction. Perhaps this is what happens when students are raised in an environment where they all get performance trophies and are protected from speech they disagree with. The Dean should have addressed the reason why the black students were not performing well, not fire the messenger.

    1. I don’t think what she said was bad. She should have been allowed to retire and hiding under a rock until this blows over…but I think she had to go.

      Dick Cheney was a beneficiary of geographic diversity and he couldn’t hack it at Yale even though he was obviously bright. I do think elite schools need to track beneficiaries of “diversity” because a lot of those students might have issues because they didn’t attend the elite prep schools or undergraduate universities that most of the students attended.

      1. I think it was his girlfriend, now wife, who got him through college. Had he met someone like her at Yale, he likely would have done OK there.

        1. Are you advancing a thesis that behind every successful Conservative man, there’s a woman doing most of the work?

    2. GU’s AD says “My Jewish athletes just perform at the bottom every season. It’s terrible, I wish it were otherwise but there it is, I have so few Jewish athletes but there it is, even the ones I have are at the bottom.”

      The GU ROTC administrator says “I have so few Jewish students, and the ones I have perform at the bottom every year.”

      Nothing to see here?

  12. Loved the line “(the aptly named) Batson.”

  13. Still nobody has come forward to claim that what she said was false.

    1. I’m not sure it matters if it were false or not. They made an entire Jim Carrey film about how saying true things was terrible.

      1. You managed to miss the entire point about that film. Hint: It was not “lying is good”.

        1. It was “It’s fun to watch Jim Carrey pretend to react to things.”

    2. “Still nobody has come forward to claim that what she said was false.”

      She’s still the one who assigns grades to her students, so anything she says about their grades isn’t going to be false.
      I was just sitting here typing, and I’m frustrated that the words aren’t coming out differently.

  14. Georgetown is a private, Christian university. Christianity is the ultimate ‘affirmative action’ program (see the parable of the widow’s penny, the first shall be last, etc.,). It was not created to select the best and brightest (according to a certain abstract metric) from a group and give them even more support and resources.

    By it’s stated mission GU values diversity of people’s and cultures. Apart from its mission it’s reasonable for an elite university to value diversity (diversity of opinion, which can reasonably be thought to track diversity of ethnicity [that’s why people can talk about the ‘black vote’ etc.], diversity in student body, since college is to prepare you for the ‘real’ world which *is* diverse, etc).

    Given this, GU can quite reasonably find the comments are contrary to their mission and hurt their brand.

    This kind of thing happens all the time in other institutions and there is much less pause about firing folks.

    1. “diversity of opinion, which can reasonably be thought to track diversity of ethnicity”

      Start with a false premise, end with a false conclusion.

      1. Do you deny that polling or voting data show distinct patterns re: race/ethnicity?

        1. The standard deviations of such data within particular races/ethnicities are substantially greater than the differences between the means of those opinions within each race/ethnicity. Put differently, the R^2 is non-zero but low. So, no, diversity of opinion does not reasonably track diversity of ethnicity.

          More to the point, diversity of opinion can be measured directly. If your goal is diversity of opinion, why would you ever use a proxy measure rather than direct observation? The decision not to use direct measures undercuts your argument that use of race is a proxy for diversity of opinion.

          1. Are you seriously arguing the difference in, say, white and black voting patterns is not significant?

            1. Read what I said carefully. The R^2 is non-zero but low.

    2. Wouldn’t issuing arbitrary grades based on trace violate Title VI at a private university? And isn’t that essentially what Georgetown is doing?

    3. What’s so great about diversity? Is it so great that it’s worth telling people that they can’t get into a school because of the color of their skin? Is it so great that it’s worth telling others that they’ve been accepted into a school because of the color of their skin even though they don’t belong there?

      1. ” Is it so great that it’s worth telling people that they can’t get into a school because of the color of their skin?”

        Approximate number of people who get told that they can’t get into a school because of the color of their skin: 0

  15. What if a fellow at Heritage Foundation were found on tape saying “man, our Protestant interns, well, they really are dull. It’s awful, but I have to say, what is up with Protestantism, I have so few and they are at the bottom of the group.”

    Given the focus and importance on conservative Protestants there, you don’t think that person would be long, long gone (even if what they said were ‘true’ in some sense?)

      1. It is if your business is getting people interested in things.

    1. You have to distort the facts to make your argument. The teacher never said what’s wrong with blackness.

      1. Pedant’s Progress.

    2. At the Heritage Foundation? No, I don’t think that such a person would be fired. On the contrary, I think that person might be able to get a grant for substantive research extending some of the historical arguments between, for example, some of the Calvinist and anti-Calvinist writers. There is a rich philosophical history of discussion about the potential correlation between work ethic and Protestantism. Evidence undercutting that alleged correlation and resolving the debate would be interesting – and probably within the mandate of the Heritage Foundation to support.

      1. They’d be fired immediately, you’re fooling yourself more than anyone else.

      2. I don’t think so. What evidence do you have to the contrary? Has the Heritage Foundation ever fired anyone over ideological differences?

        1. Fired, or simply not hired?

    3. Given the focus and importance on conservative Protestants there, you don’t think that person would be long, long gone (even if what they said were ‘true’ in some sense?)

      I have no idea. Neither do you. One cannot prove a point with a hypothetical. It’s worthwhile to consider your hypo as a thought experiment — to test one’s own biases — but it establishes nothing.

      Of course, we all do that from time to time: “If a Republican had said X…” “If it were a Democrat that had done Y…” but unless you have an actual example (of course, a single example is just an anecdote) it rarely gets us anywhere.

      1. Showing that an exception could exist, is useful to attack a claim that no possible exceptions exist.

  16. Yep. Showing concern that some of your Black students aren’t doing well is certainly grounds for immediate dismissal.

    1. Maybe if she’d mentioned that it most be due to systemic racism…

    2. ” Showing concern that some of your Black students aren’t doing well is certainly grounds for immediate dismissal”

      It is if you are the reason that some of your Black students aren’t doing well.
      the defenders keep assuming that the black students aren’t doing well because they are black. The counter-proposal is that they aren’t doing as well because they are black and being taught by this person.

  17. I wonder if there is a sufficient presence of sub-Saharan Africans in American law schools to draw any conclusions. SSAs outperform native born whites in degrees obtained and in economic success as well.

    1. Because of Affirmative Retribution…

  18. Well, Sellers placed herself in the unwinnable position of having to prove that she is not a racist — that she does not consciously or unconsciously down-grade her black students. Her crime is that she is allowing others to infer her intent. I think her commets are most likely getting at that affirmative action was creating an institution-mismatch problem where minority students are competing uphill against much better prepared students and generally performing worse.

    Now this is a fine good-faith discussion to have behind closed doors with the result being (a) modify affirmative action to find more qualified candidates, (b) find ways for the minority students to improve performance in the program, or (c) do nothing and place the honus on the students. Institutionally (b) is desired to maintain diversity and critical mass. It’s probably not a great ad hoc discussion to have inadvertently recorded. Who knows, Sellers might even support tutoring opportunities, prep classes, and delayed graduation for individuals struggling. But she committed the cardinal sin of implying that race alone might be the reason why students struggled and there’s no coming back from that. I think institution mismatch is a problem worthy of discussion….but it does need good faith….and it does need objective measures. In some ways, Sellers should have known better. Her colleague’s reaction is the clue.

    1. Another clue is that she prefaced her remarks by “I hate to say this but . . ” Another example is Sen. Ron Johnson on his statement that it “would get him in trouble, but . . . ” he did not fear the MAGA types storming the Capitol but would be terrified if they were BLM. Each speaker knew or suspected her/his statement was close to the line or at the least provocative. If you have to use this preface, think hard about the potential consequences of completing the sentence.

  19. “The professors were having what they thought was a confidential discussion about grades.”

    Really? On zoom?
    NOTHING done on a networked computer (“private network”, public network, or the web) is private. Never has been, neer will be.
    Maybe they should learn to code.

  20. As a graduate of GULC (a long time ago), and former editor of the GLJ, I find the whole reaction by the law school to be horrific and embarrassing. Which is what I told the nice young lady who called the other day soliciting a donation to the Annual Fund.

    I’ll note that Dean Treanor closes his email (which I also received, as an alum) by saying “I hope you understand my commitment to ensuring that Georgetown Law is a place in which every individual – student, faculty and staff – feels welcome and thrives.” He is quite obviously NOT committed to this at all – he is only committed to ensuring that people who *have the same far left wing opinions as he does* feel welcome.

    1. I suspect your simple “no” will get more attention than think-pieces on this blog. Money talks, after all.

      Depending on how many people repeat that particular message.

  21. Even if we start off with the questionable assumption that this professor did something horrible, it does not follow that tarring the whole faculty with the same brush and going full re-education on everyone would be proportionate to the problem, or even responding to the problem in the right direction.

    1. “Even if we start off with the questionable assumption that this professor did something horrible”

      Just because she confessed is no reason to make that assumption.

      1. She didn’t confess.

        1. Yes, she did.

Please to post comments