Friday, March 12, 2021

Fired from Georgetown Law

Who is Sandy Sellers?

Until yesterday she was an adjunct professor at the Georgetown Law School. Being an adjunct means that she did not have tenure. Thus, when she said the wrong thing, she had no protection. She was instantly fired.

As for her resume, the Daily Mail offers a capsule:

Sandra Sellers is an adjunct professor of mediation and negotiation at Georgetown University Law Center and previously at George Washington University Law School.

According to her bio on the American Bar Association, she mediates intellectual property, domain name, software, contract, and other business disputes and is President of Technology Mediation Services in Virginia. 

She has served as a Director of the International Trademark Association, and chair of its ADR Committee. 

Sellers is also a member of the panels of neutrals of US District Court for the District of Columbia, the US International Trade Commission, International Trademark Association, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center; and other local panels. 

By any standards, she has accomplished a great deal. And yet, in our current environment, it is for naught if you say the wrong thing.

So, why was she summarily fired from GLS?

Quite simple, when on an online Zoom meeting she expressed anguish over the fact that black students at the law school end up at the bottom of their classes. One dares to notice that this should not be news. When Yale Law, if I recall correctly, first instituted affirmative action in admissions, graduates warned that the policy would create two tiers of students.

Here is what happened to Sellers and her interlocutor, David Batson:

The professors had stayed on Zoom to discuss the students after they left and where unaware that it was still recording. It was online for two weeks until students noticed the conversation between Sellers and Batson at the end and reported it to the school on Monday.  

'They were a bit jumbled. It's like let me reason through that, what you just said,' Sellers said of a student's performance, who the Black Law Students Association claims is the only black person in the class.

'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,' the adjunct professor of mediation and negotiation continued.  

It happens almost every semester, and it's like, oh, come on. You know, we get some really good ones but there also usually some of them that are just plain at the bottom,' Sellers concludes. 

Batson was not fired. He was placed on administrative leave for failing to call out her bigotry:

Batson, also a mediation law expert, does not initially respond but simply looks down and nods in the short 43-second clip, which was allegedly leaked to social media by a student.

He subsequently returns to discussing the student in question, stating, 'what drives [him] crazy is...the concept of how that plays out in whether that is [his] own perceptions playing in here with certain people' or '[his] own unconscious biases playing out in the scheme of things'.

What were they saying? They were saying that they felt anguish over the fact that students who were admitted on the basis of race were consistently underperforming. And they were asking whether perceiving that these students were underperforming was a function of their unconscious bias. 

It does not quite rise to the level of racist slurs. No matter. Many students took personal offense at the comments, because they implied that some students were admitted to fill diversity quotas. And they also implied that there was a performance gap that seemed in many cases linked to those who had been admitted under a different set of standards.

Dare we mention that this thought has been floating through the national conversation for decades now. In many ways, it is a basic problem with diversity programs, one that Shelby Steele analyzed well two decades ago. As long as some students might have been admitted on the basis of race, all students of said race will be seen as less than able, as not having been playing the game according to the same rules.

Naturally, no one is allowed even to refer to this fact. As opposed to civil law, truth seems not to be a defense when one is accused of slander or defamation. 

No one is allowed to say it, but everyone knows it. This expresses itself in other ways, in who socializes with whom, in who is called on in class, in who gives the best answers in class, in who is asked to be in which study group. People know the score, and their knowledge expresses itself in multiple ways, many of which are now called microaggressions.

How to solve the problem? Well, our tech tycoons in Silicon Valley, those whose companies have very few black employees, have told law firms that they must to have black lawyers working on all of their cases. Does that solve the problem or does it just make business into an adjunct to the university, an extended game of-- let’s pretend?


urbane legend said...

Well, our tech tycoons in Silicon Valley, those whose companies have very few black employees, have told law firms that they must to have black lawyers working on all of their cases.

Do those same tech firms demand a black lawyer to lead their intellectual property or copyright cases? Especially if the head of the firm hints to the head of the tech giant that their black layers are not qualified for that job, but perhaps can support their very best, for appearance sake? Of course not. Such matters are too important not to have the best available.

hayek said...

The mismatch problem in higher education was well documented in a 2012 book written by respected lawyer/author Stuart Taylor and an academician. I guess the book will disappear from Amazon in due course.

Sam L. said...

All I can say is, The STUPID is STRONG in these ones.