The title of the e-mail said it all:
As word of yesterday”s ruling against the use of race in the Law School”s admissions policy circulated through the Law Quad in the form of an e-mail from Dean Jeffrey Lehman, David Singer was only one of many students caught off-guard by the news.
“Regardless of whether or not Law students support the policy, everyone is standing behind the Law School administration and the University,” said Singer, a first-year Law student.
“Certainly the vast majority are behind the University,” agreed second-year Law student Sam Tuttle.
While everyone who already attends class in the Law Quad doesn”t have to worry about a possible new race-blind admissions policy, many expressed fears of U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman”s verdict”s immediate effects on the school.
“I”m concerned that it”s going to affect recruitment,” third-year Law School student Chris Lynch said. “I think it”s going to be discouraging for prospective students.”
But there were a handful of students who did not view the ruling as a disaster for the Law School and the University.
There are students who do not fully agree with the Law School”s admissions policies, but “no one admits to their ambivalence,” said first-year Law student Ken Plochinski.
“I have to agree with the verdict,” said one second-year Law student who asked not to be identified. “I do believe in equality. I just differ in how to achieve that.”
“Racial bias must end in all forms, and I view affirmative action as a continuation of racial bias in some form,” he said. “Affirmative action programs infringe on my civil rights, and for that reason I do not accept it.”
But whatever their views on affirmative action, everyone did agree on one important point: The issue is far from being over.
“This is a case that is destined for the Supreme Court,” said Law School Assistant Dean Charlotte Johnson. Johnson and Associate Dean Christina Whitman held a meeting with students, faculty and staff yesterday evening to discuss the the ruling.
More than 100 people crowded into a Hutchins Hall lecture room to voice their support for the Law School”s admissions policies and discuss their concerns about the decision”s implications.
“We”re not ready to sit down and say, “We give up,”” Johnson assured the audience.
And while there may be a long way to go, many students admitted that losing the first phase does come as a significant setback.
“There”s no reason to get super upset now because there are a lot of steps, but it is a disappointment,” said first-year Law student Stephanie Dorn.
Lynch expressed hope that yesterday”s ruling doesn”t change the climate of the Law School as much as the 1978 University of California Regents v. Bakke ruling changed Berkeley”s campus.
“I think it had a devastating effect on Berkeley,” Lynch said.
“After the undergraduate ruling came down, we thought we were going to be OK,” Lynch said of the December verdict issued by U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan, in which he ruled that using race as only one factor in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts admissions process is permissible.