The Black Law Student Association at George Washington University recently demanded a number of changes from the university’s law school to address racial inequities at the school.
However, one particular demand sticks out: the students want more opportunities for black students to take a course with conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The student group at the private university in D.C. launched its petition at the end of June and laid out a series of demands of the university. As of Thursday, the petition had over 900 signatures on Change.org.
Among its demands is a request by the group to make it easier for black students to take a popular class with Justice Thomas, the only sitting black justice on the Supreme Court.
They wrote that the university’s lottery system for seats in the class has left out many black students who want to take the course. They criticized the lottery statement and said that it “stifles diversity and prevents Black students from engaging with the only sitting Black Justice.”
“BLSA demands that effective immediately a percentage of slots in the class be reserved for African American/Black students and should be reflected in the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.” Justice Thomas regularly teaches a Constitutional law class at the university, according to the petition.
The class is co-taught with his former clerk and George Washington University law professor Greg Maggs, according to a 2012 article in the law school alumni magazine.
The Black Student Law Association did not respond to several requests for comment.
Morgan Bodenarain, the Black Law Student Association’s president, told the GW Hatchet that she has been discussing the concerns with administrators at the law school and the group wants to present their list at an upcoming faculty meeting.
“We encourage all students to read the list of demands, sign and share a comment on the petition as well,” she told the Hatchet.
Other demands of the group include reforming the first-year criminal law class to better discuss racism in the criminal justice system. They also encouraged signers to reflect on their own guilt if they in fact benefited from the system. The petition opens with a request for signers to share “ways in which you personally have benefited from the institutional oppression that exists at this PWI and many others is the hard part.”
The course must “appropriately reflect the United States’ racially charged criminal justice system” the petition stated.
Those topics should be regularly “embedded and addressed throughout the semester to cover topics including but not limited to, post – slavery incarceration, qualified immunity, and the New Jim Crow.”
The Black Student Law Association also wants the creation of a “racial injustice clinic,” hiring an “associate dean of diversity and inclusion” and mandated racial bias training for all students and faculty.
They claim many black student students “have experienced racial microaggression from professors and faculty.” The group also wants the law school to develop mandatory racial bias training.
Furthermore, “BLSA demands such trainings be implemented immediately, and students pledge to be anti-racist.”
“Too often our concerns are silenced and ignored, and as Black GW Law students we demand the same educational and professional learning experiences as our White counterparts,” the group concluded in their petition.
The law school did not respond to several requests for comment from The College Fix.
IMAGE: The Oyez Project