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City University of New York

Dean of Most Diverse Law School Steps Down Over “Slaveholder” Remark

The dean of CUNY Law School is leaving her post after apologizing about referring to herself as a “slaveholder.”

Mary Lu Bilek, who has spent 32 years at the law school and five years as dean, sent an email titled “Apology” to students and faculty addressing her departure and the “slaveholder” remark that she made at a personnel committee meeting back in November, the New York Post reports.

“In a misguided effort to draw an analogy to a model of reparations in order to place blame on myself, as Dean, for racial inequities at our school, I thoughtlessly referred to myself as the ‘slaveholder’ who should be held responsible,” Bilek wrote. “I realized it was wrong the minute I heard myself say it and couldn’t believe the word had come out of my mouth.”

MOST DIVERSE LAW SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY

Ironically, CUNY Law School was ranked as the most diverse law school in the country with 36% of its faculty identifying as minorities and 22.6% of students identifying as Hispanic, 15.2% as Black, 11% as Asian, and 0.2% as Indigenous.

Bilek has spent her career fighting against the Bar Exam and standardized testing, which experts say perpetuate inequality.

“Her reputation in the world of deans is that of someone who cares deeply about racial justice,” Ronald Weich, an assistant attorney general in the Obama administration and the dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, tells The New York Times.

Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, penned a piece “In Defense of CUNY Law School Dean Mary Lu Bilk” saying:

“Dean Bilek spent her career promoting the cause of social justice and anti-racism. She did everything in her power to address the unique concerns of the CUNY community. But then she slipped. Once. She made a mistake,” Blackman writes. “That one comment ruined her career. In our current culture, there is no room for error. And, no one knows ex ante what those errors will be. We live in precarious times. There is no longer any margin of errors. Apologies are meaningless. If a dyed-in-the-wool progressive can be shunned for a single errant comment, none of us are safe.”

Sources: New York Post, New York Times, reason, Slate, CUNY Law

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