Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I Thought We Were Done With This...

...But I guess we weren't

Today in the atrium, the Thurgood Marshall student group had displays comparing a photo of 1950s performers in blackface to a photo of white (not-UT law) people dressed "ghetto."

Also, word on the street is that someone at the party "rolled" on their fellow students and reproduced a list of attendants at the party for the dean. The dean has individual meetings with these students later today. Apparently, the people fingered in this incident include both people that were in pictures and those who were not, leading students to believe it was an "inside job."

This blog's official position remains one of neutrality. (And to answer the numerous e-mails I've gotten, no, I wasn't there.) But, to the rest of you anonymous viewers, your discussion is welcome.

EDIT (10/14/06)- With 50 comments now accompanying this post, I think everyone has had ample opportunity to adequately debate the issue. While there has been some very healthy discussion in the comments, I think everyone on both sides of this issue would now like to see this thing cool down. I'm turning off new comments here and on my other post on the issue.

Labels:

52 Comments:

At 12:58 PM, October 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, my meeting with the dean is in...oh...1 hour and 48 minutes.

But the meetings appear to be group meetings, not individual. They're calling in a batch at 4, 4:30, & 5 that I know of.

I'll absorb the Dean's kindly criticisms and try to bite my tongue, but it's still difficult to see what UT has to do with any of this. Off-campus, private party, invites via eVite, pictures posted on MySpace & Facebook, hosted by Kodak or Flickr or Photobucket, and several attendees who were not UT students.

One can argue the wisdom of the party or the lack of common sense evidenced by the participants, but it's difficult to justify UT's interest. It's not even an honor code violation.

OK, I must go pretty myself up for the Dean.

 
At 1:48 PM, October 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i supported the email. this is not acceptable.

why in the world would you wait for so long to send the email, and then until now to hold personal meetings? this makes no sense.

 
At 2:26 PM, October 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a strong interest in UT's reputation. We are proud to advertise that we have a diverse student body and that we educate large numbers of Hispanic and African-American students. And when it comes down to it, I doubt that we could maintain that image and those numbers if prejudice in the student body were tolerated.

So, grow up people. It was stupid, and you're supposed to be smarter.

 
At 2:33 PM, October 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are proud to advertise that we have a diverse student body and that we educate large numbers of Hispanic and African-American students."

Right. From the school that fought court battles to be allowed to discriminate based on race. Actually UT's minority percentages are QUITE low comared to other similarly ranked law schools. They are taking this too far. If the dean really wants to drop this and keep it off UT's reputation, he should drop it, NOW, before news media gets a hold of it.

 
At 2:35 PM, October 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Thurgood Marshall thing just perpetuates the divide of race. The best bet would have been to just let it ride off into the sunset, but instead it gets brought back to everyone's attention in the middle of the atrium. Ghetto fabulous party was a great idea, however painting one's skin was not...that was overstepping the bounds of taste and class. The TGood Marsh stuff is just another example of the perpetuation of race as a divide in society though. Just let it die. UT is so liberal anyway...its not like we are at the KA house or at A&M where the only people of color play sports.

Basically, I am just frustrated with the fact that we want to eliminate racial tension, yet groups like TGood and CHLSA just remind everyone of the tension. Just stop and be normal.

 
At 4:00 PM, October 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above poster might want to revisit the facts and reconsider his or her criticism of A&M.

http://www.utexas.edu/opa/news/2006/09/enrollment21.html

http://communications.tamu.edu/newsarchives/06/083106news-5.html

UT and A&M are pretty comparable as far as enrollment of non-Asian minority undergraduates.

The important distinction, of course, is that A&M offers no consideration for applicants based on race. UT cannot say the same.

Aggies can look at one another and, regardless of skin color, know that everyone was admitted on their own personal merit. The same colorblind view of peer qualifications is not possible at UT.

 
At 9:11 PM, October 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the above poster (2:35pm), who are you to say what oversteps the bounds of taste and what doesn't? Because you believe a party theme reflecting race and class stereotypes is a "great idea," anyone offended by it should just ignore it?

News flash: the strides our society has made towards equality were the result of people making a big deal about things that are wrong, not just letting it ride into the sunset.

 
At 9:15 PM, October 11, 2006, Blogger Lawmommy said...

Lunching with Lions: where annonymous people at UT come to yell at eachother.

Lioness, you must be so proud!

LOL

 
At 11:10 PM, October 11, 2006, Anonymous not the poster in question said...

...who are you to say what oversteps the bounds of taste and what doesn't?

Oh, God forbid that a law student try to make practical judgments.

Because you believe a party theme reflecting race and class stereotypes is a "great idea," anyone offended by it should just ignore it?

I mentioned this with regards to the email, but it's worth repeating: if you can't draw a distinction between a theme parodying hiphop culture and ones playing on racial stereotypes (like the frat parties and the parties at A&M mentioned), then you don't understand the situation at hand.

Moreover, if you can't understand why a public law school chastising its students for a private exercise of speech might be problematic (no matter how badly your feathers were ruffled by it), then law school may not be the place for you.

But drawing a parallel between the civil rights struggle and lambasting people for party pictures is just shameful.

 
At 2:53 AM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question for all the people who were offended by this party. The Dean and others have claimed that the party was "racially insensitive" and was perpetuating negative stereotypes, but no details ever accompany these charges. Can someone please state exactly what was so offensive? What exactly was offensive about the name of the party, or the attire, or the "poses" in the pictures?

It seems to me that if you're going to be throwing around a charge as serious as racism, that charge needs to be accompanied by a careful account of the racist activity, not generalizations. The TMLS display today did not list any activity that was specifically racist - it merely decried the whole party in general. How is anyone supposed to change their behavior without a thorough accounting of the alleged wrongdoing?

 
At 8:50 AM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so the Statesman called the Dean about it. Wonder what the paper is gonna say? Who votes that they'll take an objective stance? No? Ah well...

Congratulations UT Law graduating class of '07, '08, and '09! Your law school, degree, and career have been besmirched both by drunken 1Ls and the TMLS! Rejoice!

 
At 12:24 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...no details ever accompany these charges. Can someone please state exactly what was so offensive? What exactly was offensive about the name of the party, or the attire, or the "poses" in the pictures?

Short answer: a bunch of (mostly) white kids dressed up like they're in a Jay-Z video. Alternatively, google "Icy Hot Stuntaz."

 
At 1:11 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't think a blog is the proper forum for this kind of discussion, especially one that allows anonymous comments. No one is held accountable for what they say, and no one can begin to understand the other posters' perspectives because they have no idea where they are coming from. If people want to post about this, fine, but I think it's a fairly unhealthy way to have this discussion. Sorry Lioness, but I think this is a pretty irresponsible way to conduct a blog, if there is such a thing, to invite this kind of discussion in a venue that is unlikely to produce any positive outcomes. There are other ways to establish yourself as the "go-to" blog for UT than to simply invite comments on every hot piece of gossip to enter the school. You are not the only one guilty of this, for sure, but the way your posts are identified as a prompt for discussion is just asking for it.

 
At 1:24 PM, October 12, 2006, Blogger The Lioness said...

To the above poster:

I understand your concern and I did go back and forth over whether to address the subject at all. The reason I decided to post is because people on both sides of the debate are angry, and they aren't talking to people on the opposing side about it in person. I feel that this type of anonymous forum would allow people to see specifically what arguments people on the other side of the coin feel are important to this discussion, instead of going off blanket assumptions. People wanted a place to talk, they wanted to be able to share their true feelings without being labeled a bigot or a rat, and this gives them that opportunity.

That said, I am not trying to be sensationalistic or become the "go-to" blog. Aside from this issue, most of my posts deal with minor comical instances I encounter each day--frustration over dryed out highlighters or funny quotes from professors. I'll leave it up to someone else to be the "go-to" blog.

Lastly, I hope you can see the hypocrisy in criticizing anonymous posters in an anonymous post. If you would like to talk about this more, feel free to e-mail me at lunchingwithlions@gmail.com

 
At 1:39 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't think a blog is the proper forum for this kind of discussion, especially one that allows anonymous comments.

Says the anonymous commenter....

If people want to post about this, fine, but I think it's a fairly unhealthy way to have this discussion.

The issue, here, I think, is that there has yet to be a healthy discussion of this issue.

One email by the Dean, a few 1Ls claiming that they aren't really racist, and the TMLS putting up huge poster boards in the atrium does not a healthy discussion make.

And...if you ask me, I'm doubtful that anyone other than the Administration (and even that is stretching it) is interested in a healthy discussion of this issue.

Those who were "offended" are so steeped in their higher moral ground and authority, that they can't be bothered to do anything but complain to the Administration and put up poster boards - the only objective of which is humiliation.

The 1L party-goers are now so concerned that their classmates and law professors view them as racist, that they're more worried about covering their asses.

So, I'll ask you. What *is* the correct forum? And why the fuck is it better to not have a discussion than to have a discussion in the only forum (online) that is currently available to the students?

Thus far, none of the actions taken by either the students, the Administration, or the TMLS society has resulted in a "positive outcome" for the law school.

And its pretty asinine to argue that we should pratice self-censorship about important issues surrounding the law school because "its a blog" and "people can comment anonymously".

 
At 2:04 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"if you can't draw a distinction between a theme parodying hiphop culture and ones playing on racial stereotypes (like the frat parties and the parties at A&M mentioned), then you don't understand the situation at hand."

That's a very convenient distinction. Since a parody of hiphop culture is totally cool, would it make any difference to you if some party-goers were in black-face? It's a slippery slope.

"if you can't understand why a public law school chastising its students for a private exercise of speech might be problematic (no matter how badly your feathers were ruffled by it), then law school may not be the place for you."

To my knowledge, the school has not taken any action against the students involved, like suspensions or expulsions. Being forced to meet with the Dean is hardly an infringement of your right to free speech. It's not an issue of controlling speech (hell, we've had Graglia on the faculty for decades), it's that these law students need to understand that they have a greater public responsibility than kids in frats. If you can't understand the difference between a frat boy and a lawyer, law school may not be the place for YOU. And the Texas State Bar might agree with me.

As Uncle Ben once said, "with great power comes great responsibility." Your claim that the theme was a harmless parody evidences a lack of maturity, responsibility and forethought. You'd do better to take a class from Gralgia and learn to own it.

 
At 2:13 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can't understand the difference between a frat boy and a lawyer, law school may not be the place for YOU.

This is true.

But one could present a similar argument about comparing "ghetto fabulous" and "blackface".

I don't, in any way, condone the party. I think that most, if not all, of the students who participated in the party were probably smart enough to realize the underlying tension and issues related to having such a party. Translation: they knew better, and they just didn't care (though I'm betting that they care now, and will probably never make such a fatal assumption again).

But condemning the party for what it is and comparing it to blackface are two completely different things.

To equate the two - to hold them on the same level as a similar offense - is extremely silly and only demonstrates a complete lack of historical knowledge of the cultural and societal issues involving both blackface and ghetto fabulous.

In this way, the TMLS "presentation" was offensive to everyone's intelligence. Moreover, I'm highly suspicious of the reason for such a presentation, and I'm less than inclined to view the presentation as something that was meant to produce intelligent and thoughtful discussion.

Not many are going to argue that the party-goers were in no way "wrong". But you're going to have a much harder time having an intelligent discussion with people when you [general you] so flippantly present the issue of race by comparing it to blackface or parties in blackface...

 
At 2:25 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a very convenient distinction. Since a parody of hiphop culture is totally cool, would it make any difference to you if some party-goers were in black-face? It's a slippery slope.

This is exactly the kind of sloppy reasoning that the TMLS crowd has been guilty of throughout this ordeal. The only objection to the distinction being made here is that it's "very convenient." Then, the poster jumps right to the conclusion (obviously made by the TMLS display in the lobby) that it's a slippery slope between wearing a bandana and fake jewelry (as the "racist" kids pictured in the lobby were doing) and showing up in blackface.

This is patently false. These two actions are different in kind, not degree. Many people of all races wear bandanas, flashy jewelry, have tatoos, drink 40s, and do everything else that was depicted at the party. None of these characteristics are essentially "black," and therefore cannot be used to identify the partygoers as perpetuating black stereotypes. A person in blackface is clearly and willfully immitating a black person. Thus, any conduct they engage in while in blackface is easily construed to reflect solely on the black community.

Being forced to meet with the Dean is hardly an infringement of your right to free speech.

The issue here is not a direct infringement of free speech, but an extreme chilling effect on free speech. By making a blanket statement that the party as a whole was "racially insensitive," and by not including any specifics about why it was insensitive, the dean is in effect saying, "I (and by extension TMLS) know racism when I see it." Now, a whole range of conduct has been thrown into doubt. Basically, any participation by white students in black culture is going to be shied away from, for fear of being racially insensitive. May I not sing along to rap lyrics now? May I not dance in a way that could be construed as "ghettoesque?" (e.g., c-walking) Are there certain articles of clothing that I may not wear in public because I am white? These are all questions that are raised but not answered by the Dean.

Please, for the good of this debate , be as specific as you possibly can. We will all understand each other better if we stop speaking in generalities and get down to brass tacks.

 
At 3:48 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many people of all races wear bandanas, flashy jewelry, have tatoos, drink 40s, and do everything else that was depicted at the party. None of these characteristics are essentially "black," and therefore cannot be used to identify the partygoers as perpetuating black stereotypes. A person in blackface is clearly and willfully immitating a black person.

In the pictures I saw, some of the party-goers were sporting big afros. Is that not clearly and willfully imitating a black person?

Nevermind that the word "ghetto" itself invokes a lot of negative associations. I guess I'm just a reverse-racist separatist making a big deal out of nothing, but having a party theme celebrate the marginalization of some members of society doesn't seem all that funny to me.

 
At 3:50 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/state/15743256.htm

 
At 4:04 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous same poster said...

Being forced to meet with the Dean is hardly an infringement of your right to free speech.

Oh, for the love of... the Dean's original email warns the class about the dangers and impacts of risking your professional reputation, and then what, a week after that, they get publicly dragged into his office and there's a big display in the atrium?

The point is that -- by the Dean's own terms -- are being penalized for an off-campus exercise of free speech that, however odious, wasn't related to the university. Their reputations are being risked and their motives impugned by an official student organization that's directly and publicly comparing them to active racists. And you're making a slippery slope argument? Are you insane?

Based only on a complaint and after a public warning, the students (some of whom weren't even in the pictures) got called in to the Dean's office, and now there's an article about it in the newspaper. As a result of the University's actions, the careers and reputations of some of its students have potentially damaged.

This all without any official inquiry into the specifics of the situation, as the DFW article makes plain. Does that not strike you as wrong?

 
At 4:06 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous oops. said...

*is that these students
**been potentially damaged

Little to pissed to check for typos, sorry.

 
At 4:06 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous agh! said...

***too

:)

 
At 4:20 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the pictures I saw, some of the party-goers were sporting big afros. Is that not clearly and willfully imitating a black person?

First of all, I have seen all of the pictures. There was only one guy sporting an "afro" wig, and as far as I can tell, he was not partaking in any stereotypical activity. Furthermore, there are plenty of kinky-haired white people out there who can grow an "afro". (see Justin Timberlake circa 1999) So no, it is not at all clear that he was imitating a black person.

Nevermind that the word "ghetto" itself invokes a lot of negative associations. I guess I'm just a reverse-racist separatist making a big deal out of nothing, but having a party theme celebrate the marginalization of some members of society doesn't seem all that funny to me.

Sure, the word "ghetto" does have negative connotations. But this was not a "ghetto" party, it was a "ghetto fabulous" party. There is a world of difference there. "Ghetto fabulous" has become a catch-all phrase that can refers to a flashy lifestyle. I think most people would say that being ghetto fabulous has positive, or at least neutral connotations. Clearly, being "ghetto" and being "ghetto fabulous" are not the same thing.

In this vein, the party did not in any way celebrate the marginalization of some members of society. If anything, it celebrated the ascention of some members of society from rags to riches, specifically rappers and other entertainers. Being ghetto fabulous is all about making it big and getting rich, not about being marginalized.

 
At 4:34 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their reputations are being risked and their motives impugned by an official student organization that's directly and publicly comparing them to active racists.

I'm sorry, I don't understand how this is anyone's fault but the students who put on Afro wigs and went to the party, took pictures, and posted them on the internet. Admittedly, the method TMLS used (the pictures in the atrium) may not have been appropriate, but TMLS did not dress the kids up in Afro wigs and name-tages with traditionally Black names.

Participating in behavior that other people might find upsetting is your absolute right, but you [general you] don't have the right to do anything you want without any consequences. Just like Mel Gibson faces consequences from his drunken tirade, or a politician from the use of the word "macaca."

I wanted to add, as to the comparison made between the party and the civil rights movement several posts ago: my intent was not to compare a costume party with disenfranchisement. Rather, I was taking issue with the attitude that the people who were offended by the party should just "get over it." Part of the civil rights movement was righting the clear wrongs (e.g. segregation), but part of it was making people who weren't racist more aware of racism. I don't for a single second think all, or even ANY, of the party-goers are racists. But that still doesn't make it okay. My grandfather used to use the "n" word. He wasn't a racist, I knew that by his actions and character. But that didn't make it okay for him to use that word, and I let him know. A lot of people I know make racist, or stereotypical, jokes. Many of those people are of the group they are joking about, so they aren't racist. But that doesn't make the jokes okay, either. Just as the integration of schools was a crucial step towards equality in America, so is calling out racially insensitive behavior and condemning it.

 
At 5:10 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe this entire situation has gotten totally out of hand. I attended the party and understand it was a bad judgment call and I feel awful that certain members of the law school were offended. Even though our actions were not intended to mock or alienate anyone, I appreciate the fact that people saw it differently and I apologize.

However, I feel a much more appropriate reaction would have been for those few students who were offended by the party to approach the attendees and express their grievances. We could have had an open and honest conversation about what exactly was offensive and in the end, maybe we could have even hugged it out. Because I assure you, most of the attendees of the party are lovers, not haters or racist and (despite what some people convolutedly deduced from the party pics) probably have a similar goal as the TMLS - to promote a diverse and comfortable and inclusive experience for all.

Instead, the offended students effectively "tattled" on us to the Dean, made a public display which (I think absurdly) compared us with people in blackface, and then brought the story to the Associated Press. I think these actions are grossly disproportionate to the actual event that incited them and, in a way, is trying to punish the perpetrators 3 times for an act which we already apologized for, admitted was stupid, and promised to never partake in again.

Seriously, enough already.

 
At 5:10 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I don't understand how this is anyone's fault but the students who put on Afro wigs and went to the party, took pictures, and posted them on the internet.

I was talking about the administration. Long after sending out an email telling us all about the importance of guarding our reputations, it sacrificed those students' anonymity by calling them into the Dean's office (particularly kids who weren't in the pictures), which also led to the DFW article and who knows where else.

If that had been done anonymously and discreetly, before the email was sent out or after a proper inquiry (the DFW article makes it clear that the students weren't really queried about their intentions or motives until the Dean meeting), it'd be a different story. But the way it's been handled is just flat-out inept.

The TLMS display was in bad taste, among other things, but that's not my objection there, either. To my knowledge they're a university organization, so it seems inappropriate to make that display before the administration had really even conducted an inquiry into what really happened.

All of this was clearly done based on the complaint of a few people who were offended (and apparently a lot of whingeing and hearsay), and if damage is done to the students involved in the party (which is exactly what the dean's email warned about), that's on the admin's head, and it's sad.

 
At 7:10 PM, October 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>If you can't understand the >>difference between a frat boy and a >>lawyer, law school may not be the >>place for YOU.

>This is true.

>But one could present a similar >argument about comparing "ghetto >fabulous" and "blackface".

I just want to say that this was the best retort of the 27 comments here.

Have fun on law review

 
At 12:50 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

let's put it plain and simple. TMLS, because they took it upon themselves to bring this to the attention of the general public, has besmirched the law school's reputation. There is NO question about that. The facebook pictures would have gone unnoticed by the AP had TMLS addressed the particular students in question themselves. Sadly, TMLS felt that a response of inappropriate measure was necessary to "thwart" future private parties, and in doing so, and in reporting such actions to the press, have made the University--and, by no small measure, themselves--the brunt of a totally inappropriate deal of scrutiny and criticism.

TMLS has brought nothing but negative attention to the law school by these actions, and in doing so are ruining not only the value of their degree, but also the value of putting "TMLS" on their resume. An organization dedicated to increasing the number of African Americans in attendence at the University of Texas Law School, which does naught but to spread paranoia of "Texas racism", betrays it's set goal that "TMLS strives to increase the number of African-American students at UT Law." Well, this will probably bring UT back to Hopwood admission standards, which anyone in their right mind would try to avoid like the plague. Encouraging African Americans to avoid UT is not the answer. Fix problems in-house. Don't be the Dixie Chicks of the Law School.

 
At 8:45 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, this will probably bring UT back to Hopwood admission standards, which anyone in their right mind would try to avoid like the plague.

Why? I, for one, do not care about the color of the skin of my classmates. The reason levels were so low post-Hopwood is that a black student who can get into UT Law strictly by merit can probably go to Yale, Harvard, or Stanford. The problem is that all the other universities still had racist admissions policies; quite naturally, beneficaries of that racism would shy away from the meritocracy.

 
At 10:16 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, let me point out that there is gray area between racist language, racist labels and stereotypes, so this issue is not as clear cut as many people make it out to be. I think the Thurgood Marshall students may have overreacted. At the same time, sometimes people get sick or apologies and maybe wanted to see people think for a change. Even so, many people use the language & labels that other groups use against them to take the "sting" out of the words. So sometimes, you have Gay men calling each other "fag", women calling each other "bitch" and white people calling each other "trailer trash". Not every one agrees that this is "okay"--for example, some say "Well, if black people call each other "nigger", then why can't I?" However, the case remains that some people believe that it is okay for a group to use an in-group term against itself. This is an entirely different dynamic than an out-group i.e.--women calling men dickheads, using stereotypes against another group. So....if from what I can gather from the discussions (and I'm not absolutely certain because I did not see the pictures, I'm basing this on the news reports of "putting on blackface and an afro-wig and nametags with traditional Hispanic and African-American names") the party goers were primarily WASPs, and they wanted to poke fun at stereotypes, why didn't they poke fun at their own ethnic/racial group and have a trailer trash party?

All this nonsense that "ghetto fabulous" is not associated with a particular race or ethnic group. Hmmmm....give me a fucking break. Are we really supposed to believe that? If that were the case, than there would have been a string of emails going back and forth from the host to the invitees that said "How should be dress?" "What does ghetto fabulous mean?" If such a string of emails exists, then I stand corrected.

 
At 10:27 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TMLS did not make this into a big deal. The party goers did when they threw the racist-themed party. The press is right in condemning this party, as is TMLS, and all of us.

 
At 10:32 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TMLS did not make this into a big deal. The party goers did when they threw the racist-themed party. The press is right in condemning this party, as is TMLS, and all of us.

IRONY: A black-only group criticiing a diverse group for racial insensitivity.

 
At 10:39 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TMLS did not make this into a big deal. The party goers did when they threw the racist-themed party. The press is right in condemning this party, as is TMLS, and all of us.

As of a few minutes ago, the party has made national news. Not state, not local. NATIONAL NEWS.

This party was attended by a very. very. small. group of 1Ls. It is not representative of the class as a whole, nor is it representative of the Law School as a whole.

I don't take issue with the fact that people were offended. I do take issue with the fact that this has been so blown out of proportion that it is now NATIONAL NEWS.

TMLS is responsible for making this a "big deal" because of the way they chose to respond.

So instead of having this be a "learning experience" for a very small party of the 1L class, it is now fodder for national television - and it is a much bigger smear on the law school as a whole than it should have been.

 
At 10:39 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Myackie said...

golly...wish I'd been there.

 
At 10:41 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So....if from what I can gather from the discussions (and I'm not absolutely certain because I did not see the pictures, I'm basing this on the news reports of "putting on blackface and an afro-wig and nametags with traditional Hispanic and African-American names")

Incorrect. Please show me that news report.

(1) I don't know what a "traditional Hispanic [or] African-American" name would be.
(2) Afro-wig: one person. Didn't strike me as shocking.
(3) Black-face. Absolutely did not happen. TMLS did portray it as happening in their display, but that comparison was their alone.

the party goers were primarily WASPs, and they wanted to poke fun at stereotypes, why didn't they poke fun at their own ethnic/racial group and have a trailer trash party?

...You have got to be kidding me. It's OK for relatively well-off "WASP" law students to poke fun at crude stereotypes of trailer trash, but not OK to dress up like they're in a Jay-Z video? Please explain how that one works.

 
At 10:43 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least the law school's administration took its own advice, showed foresight with attention to the possible consequences, and didn't drag this out over a course of weeks and let exaggerations, finger-pointing, and hearsay cause the situation to spiral out of control.

 
At 10:54 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can someone please link to the news report where it actually says there was "blackface" at the party? I've read most of them, and have yet to hear about this.

 
At 11:24 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1) I don't know what a "traditional Hispanic [or] African-American" name would be.
(2) Afro-wig: one person. Didn't strike me as shocking.
(3) Black-face. Absolutely did not happen. TMLS did portray it as happening in their display, but that comparison was their alone.


Let's be honest, people. I saw the pictures, in which people wore tags with names like "LaFawnda" and "Jesus." Those are both actually names I saw in pictures.

I don't think anyone had on blackface, per se, but normally pale girls wore copious amounts of bronzer on their faces (brownface, if you will) and wore a style of jewelry and makeup associated with some Chicana cultures--dark lipliner, heavy eyeliner, eyeliner, big gold hoop earrings.

To say that these performances were not related to race is disingenuous. To say that the above things didn't happen is plain lie. Hundreds of people saw these pictures on the internet.

I understand why people feel that this issue has received a disproportionate amount of attention. I understand why partygoers feel defensive and blindsided. I believe that most of the partygoers are not racists and did not intend to hurt or offend anyone.

But these things *did* happen, and they were insensitive, careless, and foolish. I would like to my 1L colleagues at UT take some responsibility for their actions and apologize publicly.

But most have chosen instead to blame the dean and the TMLS for this scandal and to publicly deny well-documented facts.

I do not condemn these partygoers carte blanche. But I have lost tremendous respect for the cowardly few who refuse to admit that their error. If you truly believe you did nothing wrong, re-release all the pictures (with or without people's faces) for the world to see.

 
At 11:58 AM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't at the party and I didn't see the pictures. Up until now I've been of the opinion that this has been blown way out of proportion. But if what the above comment says is true (and I can't see any reason for it to be a lie), I've changed my mind. TMLS, CHLSA, and anyone of sound moral character has the right to be greatly offended. The students who attended this party should be ashamed and get whatever is coming to them.

 
At 12:12 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone had on blackface, per se

I understand why partygoers feel defensive and blindsided.

Is there some book out there on what is and isn't OK? Because I'd really like to read it. Blackface is a specifically racist cultural artifact. Everything else you cite isn't. Stupid, maybe. But to keep bringing up blackface when it manifestly did not happen is disingenuous. So is pretending that the distinction between the two things you're talking about is somehow "grey."

No one would be trying to defend the partygoers in the case of what you're talking about, and it's intellectually insulting to keep propping up that strawman.

But most have chosen instead to blame the dean and the TMLS for this scandal and to publicly deny well-documented facts.

TLMS is being blamed because they put up a public display directly accusing a group of students of racism in an off-campus situation, before the University had conducted an investigation and based entirely on hearsay.

The Dean is being blamed for an incompetent handling of the situation. The smart move would have been getting everyone together to discuss what had happened rather than letting everyone impute motives based on pictures (and by all accounts things were resolved once the offended parties sat down with the students) and then making a public announcement.

Instead, a public email was shot off before the matter had been looked into telling everyone that in the future they should exercise foresight and have concern for their reputations. Then a week later, all of the students were finally called into the Dean's office and chastised (an excellent example of foresight), and now the issue is in the national press and people are calling for public outings (way to protect the students' reputations when it's still manifestly obvious that there was no ill intent).

The students involved have apologized repeatedly, but the standards are being unfairly changed on them. Are you saying that they should have all come out publicly and apologized after the public email which seemed interested in protecting their identities and giving them a second chance? What about those that weren't in the photos but got called in anyway? How were they supposed to know what was expected of them before this became a national news item?

Honestly, people have the right to be offended, but the Dean and TMLS have turned this into a witch hunt, while at the same time impeding the students' ability to defend themselves -- in a situation that's only putatively related to the University in the first place.

This is ridiculous.

 
At 4:01 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey 1Ls--photos are not hearsay. TMLS has just as much right to say what it wants about the party as you do to defend it. grow up.

 
At 4:07 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone who was actually at the party post an account of what really happened. I can't help but feel the "Afros" and "historically black names" parts of the Chronicle story were a bit exaggerated.

Were the party attendees all dastardly WASPs? Was there cross-burnings? Did people shake their booties in a historically black manner? Were the offending booty-shakers white (not ok) or hispanic (ok)?

Seriously though, it's extremaly difficult to assess the relative merits of the debate without knowing what actually transpired. I'm sure we all know by now that every legal argument begins with the facts...

 
At 4:13 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To whoever posted:
In the pictures I saw, some of the party-goers were sporting big afros. Is that not clearly and willfully imitating a black person?

I know this is Texas, but you clearly do not know many Jewish (or even Japanese) people.
Hate Crime?

they might have been trying to pay homage to the Sager-do

The Man The Myth

 
At 6:08 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous A said...

hey 1Ls--photos are not hearsay. TMLS has just as much right to say what it wants about the party as you do to defend it. grow up.

please. no one is defending the people at the party. they're saying that an afro wig isn't necessarily the same as wearing blackface.

everyone's allowed to be offended and to say what they like. but:

(1) it's hypocritical to condemn others for making supposedly insensitive gestures while publicly comparing them to minstrel performers.
(2) the people being accused never had warning or an opportunity to defend themselves.
(2.1) in fact, the original email put them in that position from the start.
(2.2) as it stands now, they've been deprived of any fair opportunity to make amends. their choices are to remain silent and risk outing, or get publicly condemned, regardless of fault.
(3) all sides agreed that there was no ill intent, meaning the accusation was factually incorrect.
(4) this happened a week after an official email condemning the action (apparently as requested). there's been no reason given why that email was insufficient or why it was necessary to exacerbate the situation a week later.
(5) since it was a member of the TMLS that originally brought this to the dean's attention, there was every opportunity to take care of any issues preemptively. everything afterward was excessive on their part.
(6) the TMLS display was an official student organization levying an unverified charge at private individuals as if they were all representatives of the school, which is false. that's an intentional infliction of collateral damage.

ultimately, there's no accusation of poor judgment that can't be fairly leveled at both sides. at least the students at the party can point out that they were acting privately and without foresight or warning. but no one escapes the situation looking good.

sadly, the dean's original email outlines exactly why it was wrong for students to risk their reputations and those of their classmates, but apparently it's all right for the dean and student organizations to damage the reputations of other students because they're pissed off or have to make a point. the officials and the TMLS did everything they warned the students not to do, and reaped all of the predicted consequences.

we should be mad about that, because it would be laughably stupid if it wasn't so serious. the students should all have known better than to start or escalate the situation, but ultimately i'm sympathetic to both the TMLS and to the students at the party. i blame the administration for not setting clear expectations or helping people to settle their differences in an adequate fashion. (incidentally, it's amazing how quickly things seem to have settled down once people were sat down to talk with one another.) i think that's probably the most salient criticism of the university in all this, all the more because it reflects poorly on the rest of us, and because after all these years and problems you'd hope that they'd learned something.

ultimately, it's just a phenomenal bobbling by the officials involved.

 
At 6:52 PM, October 13, 2006, Blogger Lily Graypure said...

OH, Lioness. Look what you've done!

 
At 8:12 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only in Texas would there be outrage at calling it like it is: racially insensitive and really freaking immature. Grow up. You posted pictures on the internet, it's not private. Guess what? Once the AP says you screwed up, you officially did. Way to ruin the rest of our degrees.

 
At 8:19 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations UT Law! 7% of the 1L class in cohas managed to:

1) get us on national news;
2) make us the lead story on the local 10 o'clock news;
3) generally made the rest of the 1L class look like a bunch of asshats.

Then again, the local news had a ton of pictures from the party. Gee. I wonder who gave those to the news networks. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the 1Ls - since they refused to be interviewed. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't the Administration. They aren't available online anymore. Trust me. I've looked.

I wonder who gave KXAN a bunch of pictures....probably the same people that "told" the story to the AP. Hmmm.

It was necessary to inform the 1Ls in question that their actions were "not okay."

It was not necessary to give the story to the press. It was not necessary to give the press pictures. Because the news isn't making it sound like 7% of the 1L Class participated. The news is making it sound like all of the 1L Class participated.

MY OWN FUCKING MOTHER CALLED ME WONDERING WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON.

I hope the people who took this to infinity and beyond are satisfied with the results.

 
At 8:30 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously I need to learn to proofread before I click "submit".

[sigh]

 
At 8:30 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question. This is an alleged email from the TMLS on one of the partygoers' homepages (google cache):

"TMLS Family, If possible we are trying to keep information about this matter and our planned response contained within the organization until we can formally act as a unified group. This is why only limited information is being dispersed over email until today's meeting. So please use discretion if possible. However, here is a link to pictures taken from the "Ghetto Party" to update the membership on some of the events that occured. Once again let's try to keep family business in the family. Its an honor to serve with you in the struggle. Thanks Guys."

If this is inaccurate, I'd like to know.

This was posted after the Dean's message, which was apparently sent after a complaint to the assistant Dean from TMLS itself. That's according to the AP story.

Is it correct, then, that the TMLS complained to the Dean, got the email sent, then got the students dragged into the Dean's office a week later while they put up a display in the atrium accusing the students of being racist? Which part of that was the "planned response"?

If it was the TMLS that complained initially, then why didn't they ask to sit down with the students in the first place? And if the Dean's email was insufficient, why did a student organization take the issue to the public on their own initiative, when the law school was still in the process of dealing with the situation?

This is a mess.

 
At 8:55 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To students who think they have been chastized:

Grow up. You are in law school. Just as you claim you had the right to free speech, the law school has a right to speak out against you for it. It does reflect negatively on the law school. You think the Dean or TMLS are the only ones who would publicly humiliate/chastize you about this and blow this out of proportion? Throw a "ghetto fabulous" party with your fellow summer associates when you're clerking with a law firm. Better yet, throw one with a few associates when you are a first-year. What do you think will happen? Do you think a big law firm will choose to ignore the topic? Hell no. This kind of behavior obviously offends people. When that happens the institutions you people are associated with suffer. If they do not speak out against such behavior they come under attack themselves for condoning such behavior through their silence. Do you people really want to be lawyers? The law is a real field that affects real people's lives in very real ways. Because of the tremendous amount of responsibility you have as lawyers - guess what - PERCEPTION MATTERS. WHAT YOU DO, HOW YOU ACT, HOW YOU DRESS, HOW YOU TALK, HOW YOU LOOK SOMEONE IN THE EYE MATTTERS WHEN YOU REPRESENT THEM. The law is all about attention to detail - you first years will learn that very fast. People not only expect you to pay attention to the details of their case, they pay attention to the details of your firm. If a firm were to turn a blind eye on such behavior that would be reason enough for many clients to find a firm that isn't a PR nightmare.

In the real world what you do in your personal life reflects on the institutions you are involved with. The sooner you accept that, the better off you will be. People obviously give a shit about stuff like this. This discussion wouldn't be going on if they didn't and the Dean would not have voiced an opinion on the matter if they didn't. Just like a law firm hoping to expand (and retain) its client base if such a party would be thrown by its associates would have to issue a statement at the very least, UT Law is in the same position with its donors, patrons, alumni, students and prospective students.

 
At 8:56 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes - that email is completely accurate. I received a copy of it from a member of TLMS (which included the name of the original sender) the Tuesday before the Dean's email came out.

 

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