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Dallas Law School Revokes Student’s Admission Over Racist Posts
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An aspiring law student’s admission to Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas was rescinded Wednesday because of racially offensive social media content.

The SMU announced on Twitter on Wednesday that it revoked the admission of the incoming student, “because the student’s behavior contradicts the university’s core values—precisely, its commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

“Racism has no place on a campus that embraces respect for all SMU students, faculty, and staff and equips its students to make a difference in the world.” said a law school statement on Twitter.

  
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The law school decided to keep the student’s identity private and did not release any details on the allegedly racist social media posts. The school spokeswoman Lynn Dempsey wrote in an email to Law.com that the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act restricts what the law school can say about law students.

Dean Jennifer Collins wrote a statement to the law school community that the law school shared the national grief and outrage over the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other black men and women.

“Our hearts are breaking over the tragic and senseless killings of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery on the streets of Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in her own bed in Kentucky.” Collins wrote in the statement.

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“As lawyers, we have a special obligation to demand that we do better and actively work together toward a more just and compassionate nation free of the discrimination and hatred that continues to plague this country,” the statement reads. “We cannot allow the fact we are not physically together at the moment to keep us from the critical work we must do to address injustice and protect marginalized communities, not only from acts of violence but also from the inequities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and its disparate impact on people of color.”

The law school’s decision to revoke an admission due to racism was praised by Twitter users writing with one user tweeting that this was the reason she chose the law school.



“This is one of the reasons I chose @SMULawSchool. When I met with admissions and the Dean they made sure to make me know I was welcome. Yes, there are issues, but I truly appreciate that we are moving forward. I am proud to #PonyUp & #PonyUpDallas

 In recent weeks SMU’ black students started the hashtag “#BlackAtSMU” on Twitter where they recounted the racism they experienced on campus.

‘Honestly, SMU has made me so weary of trying to “be the representation.” I was so damn burnt out by the time I left that school trying to be everywhere at once. Only for efforts to just…not be very fruitful…’ a former student recounted.

‘Being asked whether “everyone is welcome” to our events even though we tell them every time that they are and they know good and well other people will not come anyway’ another added.

University President R. Gerald Turner responded with a statement.

“It grieves me to read them because this is not what we envision for SMU,” Turner wrote. “The negative experiences shared through #BlackAtSMU are a stark reminder that we still have a lot of work to do.”

John Browning, an adjunct SMU law professor who teaches social media law, told Law.com that he hasn’t seen any Twitter posts, but wasn’t surprised by this act.

“Evidently, someone was familiar with it and familiar with the student, and shared it with people in the law school community,” Browning, a partner in Spencer Fane in Dallas told Law.com

He said that he’s never known of an SMU law student who was dismissed for offensive social media posts. But it’s a growing issue around the nation.

“Online misbehavior by law students is certainly not a rare phenomenon, and it’s one law students don’t realize can pose a real career problem for them,” Browning said. “I don’t know the details. I don’t want to personally pass judgment. But if they were troubling enough for the school to consider it contrary to the core values, I think it’s the school’s right to do that. Being admitted to a professional or graduate program is not a matter of right. It’s a matter of privilege. It can be rescinded for any number of reasons.”



 

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