The law school’s “non-word” controversy is more complicated than at first glance


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(Picture from Getty)

I had an unfortunate time Article on the use of n words by law professors. You may think that this situation does not happen often, but you will be wrong, very wrong. What made the improper pleasure make white law professors wear the cloak of “academic freedom” and only let the entire n-word fly?

In any case, when “Above the Law” received news about UIC, John Marshall Law Professor Jason Kilborn’s “Black Words in the Civil Procedure II Exam”, and the The question “contains racial derogation, and is summarized as follows: “‘n____’ and “b ____” (African American and female profanity).” I popped up the keyboard and prepared to listen to the professor. However, when I delved into this issue, it became clear that there was still a lot to do.

petition It is a call to action for “insensitive and racist content” in the exam. When I first read the petition, my impression was that the professor used all oral expressions in the exam. (I bet many others also read and may have signed this petition.) However, this petition does not “outline[]Claim to take the exam-provide a direct quote. What I mean is that instead of using the complete n word (or b word), the test chose a euphemism. Historically, people have been asking people to give up the right to complete n words when professors ask for it. It is precisely because this is an academic environment that people really demand an adaptability and an awareness of potentially traumatic racial issues.

No one wants to discuss the unrestricted ways in which racism shapes the legal system. Opening the news, it is clear that white supremacy is still far away from us and continues to affect the law. Legal education requires these recognized difficult discussions, but finding the right balance is essential.

Kilborn provided the following background information for the decision to use the question (he pointed out that the euphemism has been used for the same question for 10 years without incident):

Employment discrimination is one of the most common topics in federal civil litigation, and our textbook authors often use this context, so of course it is the appropriate context. I also tried to acknowledge the challenges that women of color still face in the workplace and the important role of civil procedures in detecting and resolving these errors. The only question seems to be whether I have a problem with what the manager hears other people say (in abbreviations to avoid actually using these terrible words). I don’t want anyone to be unnecessarily troubled by the high-stakes exams, but I’m just confused by the response here for the first time in ten years, because this is the same as before to manage this problem continuously until I participated in this semester. Exams (although I don’t know if the WHO is responding in this way or why, because no one opposes any form of communication with this sport).

As a white man, I don’t know what the abbreviation of the reading test will look like. According to the Black Law Student Association of the Law School, students who took the test were frustrated with the following languages:

The following is the full statement from BLSA on this issue:

Unlike other professors who face improper language, Kilburn did not give in Academic Freedom AssociationOr insist that he knows what it is Best for students Or sue law school Reverse discrimination (All actual reactions from the professor, natch).He seemed to be genuinely dissatisfied with the whole incident and apologized for using the short form of the word in the test (other legal experts Unknown). Kilburn told “Above the Law”:

I am fully prepared to accept the responsibility of using the context and first-letter abbreviation quotes that make everyone feel uneasy-I definitely don’t want to do this, I regret that, and I have learned some valuable knowledge here . However, the correct way for BLSA and others to react here is everything they do, and I hope you don’t make this unnecessary, unnecessary, and non-constructive attack on me. If someone accidentally bumps into you on the street and then quickly says “Hey, sorry about that”, I hope none of us believes that the appropriate response is to raid that person, beat them mercilessly, and spread information about them All kinds of accusations. Employers and the entire Internet. BLSA has actively attacked me by linking with (1) UIC central management, (2) my dean, (3) Instagram, (4) LinkedIn, (5) Channel 2 news and possibly other news media . (6) Submit a formal complaint to the Office of Acquisition and Rights. This UIC office handles cases of suspected discrimination and harassment. When my dean mentioned to me that there were some problems with my problem, I put forward a painful thought for anyone to express my regret, and the dean asked me to keep in touch with OAE. The representative of the office got the question and background information. We made a zoom call that evening. The representative assured me that I did nothing wrong, but she supported my idea. If I make the request again, I regret it. Using this question makes anyone uncomfortable. I did it, and we are still…

I love my students, everyone, everyone, and I do my best to support the careers of people of color and other women. I have tried my best to use the same initial quotes that I saw on the Internet, including in people’s comments, they explained that using the word was completely inappropriate, they called it “n-word”-the same , Which is exactly what I did. To me, I was treated as a kind of insensitive person, because I used the same first letter, referring to a terrible word that civil proceedings aimed at eradicating and resolving. This… does not help the law. Our troubled society and our role in society. The role that our lawyers must play in eradicating and eradicating it.

The Law School provided the following statement regarding the incident:

The law school recognizes the impact of this issue. Before the winter vacation, Dean Dickerson apologized to the students who expressed hurt and trouble with the exam questions. The law school admitted that the content of race and gender in the exam was offensive. Teachers should avoid using language that may cause harm and distress to students. People with tenure and academic freedom should always remember their power position in our legal education system.

The law school is working with UIC’s Office of Access and Equity to conduct a thorough review of the issue, and Dean Dickerson and other law school and university leaders have scheduled meetings with student leaders. We are always committed to ensuring that all our students have a safe and supportive environment and that all members of the law school community abide by our common values.

Frankly speaking, open dialogue is exactly what we need. Do you think Kilborn should include this specific detail in the exam is a fair question, but he at least tries to understand the sensitive nature of the subject and seems to be committed to doing better.


head shotKathryn Rubino is the senior editor of “Above the Law” and serves as Jabot podcast. AtL recommender is the best, so please contact her.Send email anytime her Provide any tips, questions or comments, and follow her on Twitter (@凯瑟琳1).


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