Law School meeting addresses diversity

Yale Law School students say they are tired of talking about faculty diversity.

But that is what more than 250 people did last night at a town hall meeting in the Law School auditorium. With two open microphones, students and faculty made requests and demands of Law School Dean Anthony Kronman and other members of the administration.

Members of the Coalition for Faculty Diversity asked Kronman to agree to take two specific steps toward forming a more diverse faculty: the proposal of a plan of action with specific changes and a timeline by Sept. 10 of this year, and the establishment of a student-faculty committee on faculty diversity.

Kronman said that he does not think it is feasible or desirable to organize his colleagues to formulate a plan by the end of the summer. He said he would think about the issue and present a report in the fall.

Kronman also said he would rather have larger meetings than a student-faculty committee on the subject of faculty diversity.

“A committee is a funnel that constrains the way people think and what they say,” Kronman said. “I’m prepared to go on meeting like this every night if we have to.”

Students also asked for more junior professors, increased diversity of subject matter and the creation of a non-voting student position on the faculty appointments committee. The coalition reported that there are no Latino tenured faculty and that Amy Chua, appointed in 2001, is the first and only woman of color to be a member of the tenured faculty at the Law School.

Sari Bashi LAW ’03 said Yale Law Women did a study that showed a fifth of Yale law students have gone through more than two semesters without having a female teacher.

“Diversity requires you to do things that make you uncomfortable, like hiring junior professors and looking hard for women professors and professors of color who meet your definition of excellence” Bashi said.

Student organizer Bob Hoo LAW ’04 said 376 students — more than half of the Law School student body — signed a petition demanding increased faculty diversity.

Hoo spoke about Afro-American Studies professor Cornel West’s departure from Harvard and the protest against racism at Harvard Law School.

“The lesson of Harvard is that we have to come together as a community and do something about it,” he said.

Many students described their respect for the work and thinking of current Yale faculty on the subject of diversity, but said they feel the institution is lacking in action.

“We’ve been having this conversation for a long time,” Jorge Baron LAW ’03 said. “This is why students feel like nothing is being done.”

Kronman and other members of the administration noted the slowness of the process of appointments in a Law School that has only 47 full time members of the non-clinical faculty.

“I am hopeful we will make an appointment by the end of the year. It is my deeply felt hope that we’ll find a world-class scholar and teacher to fill a void in our program,” Kronman said. “We’ll do it in a way respectful of the school as a center of legal learning. I would never waver from a commitment to that standard.”

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