Depending on if your glass is half full or half empty, doing the right thing can be exhilarating or depressing. Nevertheless, Adam F. Scales, vice dean at Rutgers Law – Camden made headlines this week for doing the right thing. What’s the right thing? In Scales’s case, it is calling out a student who used student evaluation forms as a platform to communicate sexist comments on a female law professor’s wardrobe choices.
In an email to all Rutgers Law students, Scales did not leave any room for interpretation regarding his stance on the topic. The email starts like this:
“Throughout my academic career, I’ve displayed an array of sartorial styles. For years, I veered sharply between “Impoverished Graduate Student” and “British Diplomat.” One summer I taught exclusively in khakis and t-shirts. Lately, it’s been a small rotating cast of Banana Republic’s finest (that 40% off sale every weekend always pulls me in).
Of course, one would never know any of this by reading my student evaluations. That’s because I’m a man.”
It is unclear what exactly was written on the evaluation. However, if it solicited a response like the one sent by Scales, the comments were probably tasteless, ignorant and infantile at best. Scales goes on to essentially say that he has heard stories like this his entire life and knows sexism when he sees it. He closes his email by stating:
“Student evaluations are an important tool. They are also a public one, and become part of the permanent record of every faculty member. (Not the bit of fashion advice at issue here, which I struck from the evaluation system in a nanosecond.) When you compose comments about faculty – which can be as direct, negative, and harshly detailed as you like – I want you to remember that you’re writing for the personnel file, and for history. If you have any doubts that posterity will somehow muddle through without the benefit of your fashion advice, allow me to dispel them once and for all.”
As Above the Law reports, women make up about 50% of law graduates and only 34% of practicing lawyers. They are constantly “advised” on what to wear and how to present themselves. It’s time for other law school deans to join Scales and continue to condemn instances of sexism in legal education and the legal profession.
Source: Above the Law
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