Black students have been asking for changes for years. Some Black law students were the committee in 2014. I was not on the committee (irrelevant why I wasn’t now). They were brave and bold. Above the law, a blog of a lot of law students and lawyers read was sent a copy of their demands without names signed (for their protection, I believe).
One of my fellow students anonymously outed all the committee members in a post on the blog. They got all sorts of death threats, their names were published all over the place. It was a scary time at the law school because people from outside the community were involved in sending the death threats and it felt generally unsafe as a minority student not knowing what angry people might decide to descend on the campus.
I graduated a year after W&L didn’t perform well on bar exams. During our 3L year when everyone was discussing bar prep, the then Dean for Student Affairs, a W&L Law Alum, pulled every black student into his office to discuss deferring taking the bar because he didn’t think we we would pass, and with the rankings taking a hit, it wasn’t in the best interest of everyone involved.
I left his office with my confidence at an all time low. I didn’t say anything initially because I thought it was just me, but then I heard he did it to others. When I was finally able to wrap my head around the interaction, I realized it was all of us. In a class where less than 10% of the class is black, we already felt isolated from the welcoming W&L Community we were sold.
I later discovered he emailed all of the racial minorities, but some were lucky and heard from others what the talk was about so they avoided it.
To have someone in the administration tell you to defer your dreams because you could fail and hurt their pass percentage and rankings is such a slap in the face. To find out he did it to many of the black and brown students is a kick in the gut.
Luckily, I didn’t listen to him, took the bar, and passed multiple on my first try. Sadly, I do know of two students he convinced not to take the bar initially.