A coalition of Georgetown University Law Center students of color issued an open letter on Dec. 6 to criticize the law center for remaining silent in response to the grand jury decisions in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and subsequent protests across the country.

“Georgetown University Law Center, the most prestigious and highly-ranked law school in the nation’s capital, a law school placed within a city with a significant (and before systematic gentrification, predominant) population of people of color, has remained silent on the most pertinent recent legal event gaining national and international attention,” the letter said.

GULC Executive Director of Communications Elissa Free noted that the concerns of the letter were being addressed by the administration.

“Georgetown Law takes the concerns raised by the Coalition very seriously. We have invited members of the Coalition to meet with senior administrators and faculty about these important issues,” Free wrote in an email to The Hoya.

The law center hosted a panel on Dec. 3 entitled “A Conversation About Ferguson,” featuring law professors Paul Butler, Abbe Smith, Anthony Cook, Michael Seidman and history professor Marcia Chatelain. Despite the event’s wide attendance, the letter criticized the panel for its location in a decrepit classroom and the administration’s lack of consultation with the Black Law Students Association, which was advertised as a co-sponsor for the event.

“To our knowledge, no BLSA member was specifically consulted or used as a resource to determine the structure or content of the event — the Black student voice was not heard at the event geared towards addressing the killing of Black and Brown people nationwide,” the letter said.

In addition to the immediate reaction to the protests, the letter also reprimanded the administration for inadequate attention paid to students of color during both the admissions process and their time at GULC, reporting “alienating experiences at the hands of faculty.”

A similar letter circulated at Columbia University, which was quoted by the Georgetown students’ open letter, resulted in that law school allowing students who feel they have experienced trauma from the decisions to postpone exams.

“For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality,” a message to students from Columbia Law School Interim Dean Robert Scott read.

In addition to granting exam extensions for affected students, the Georgetown letter asked the law center to issue a statement addressing the situation similar to those issued by Stanford Law School and Yale Law School, provide targeted mental health resources for students of color, increase student participation in recruiting and establish diversity training for faculty and first-year students. Free did not comment on the requests.

This post has been updated.

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