Amid fears that a Federalist Society event featuring the immigration debate could harm minority students by exposing them to conservative views, the dean of Seattle University’s law school yanked its sponsorship.
Every week, the law school’s Access to Justice Institute (ATJI) holds “Social Justice Mondays” in which they promote various pro bono causes, along with other campus groups. The school’s chapter of the Federalist Society was planning to co-host “an immigration debate primarily focused on” the deferred action for childhood arrivals program (DACA), according to Thomas Reinhard, chapter president and a student at the law school.
Reinhard said he’s “1000%” certain that a petition on Change.org from the “Seattle University School of Law Direct Action Committee” caused the ATJI to withdraw its sponsorship of the event.
The petition, which has collected approximately 200 signatures so far, called on the administration to cancel the debate because it would be “harmful” to “undocumented students.”
The ATJI describes itself as a “home for pro bono, public interest, and social justice activities” and is affiliated with the law school.
As “a result of our discussions with students, alumni, and faculty,” the event will “go forward under the sole sponsorship of the Federalist Society,” school dean Annette Clark said in an email to students issued Oct. 5.
Reinhard told Bloomberg that the petition originally contained a “big, long diatribe about how the Federalist Society is a xenophobic organization,” but that language has since been removed from the petition.
“AG Sessions is 100 percent correct” concerning the First Amendment problems on college campuses, said Reinhard, adding, “It is a major problem.”
“We refuse to sit by and let hateful xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric be a part of the culture/message/speech of Seattle University School of Law and the university as a whole,” the petition originally read, according to a report in the Washington Free Beacon on Monday.
Law students, you see, would not be “safe” if exposed to views critical of illegal immigration. It would be “harmful to them.” pic.twitter.com/L7hEK6h290
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) October 4, 2017
“Our school does a lot of work in its recruitment and its programming trying to support students in marginalized communities,” Destinee Evers, a second-year law student who signed the petition, told Bloomberg.
It “really concerned me that we would be potentially supporting an event that would create dialogue that might make some of those students unsafe or unwelcome,” she added.
Dean Annette Clark made the announcement to students in a Thursday email.
She noted that President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA “generated great fear within vulnerable immigrant communities and has caused real harm, making discussions of immigration policy that include a conservative viewpoint even more painful and anxiety- and anger-producing for those individuals and families who are at risk (and for their allies).”
The school “miscalculated and erred,” Clark said, noting that the ATJI should have asked “marginalized” students their thoughts before sponsoring the event.
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