UW Law Students Required to Attend “Re-Orientation” Presentation and Participate in Radical DEI Workshop

WILL is demanding that the University remove the harmful subject matter from this “re-orientation” meeting in its entirety 

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) is alerting the public to a mandatory “Re-Orientation” session happening tomorrow, Friday, January 19th, for all first-year law students at the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison, Wisconsin. In preparation for the session, law students are asked to study a description of “racist” behaviors, including the false claim that non-discrimination is “racist” and a collection of other assertions about “whites” and “people of color” that actually are racist. It would be one thing if the law school proposed an academic debate about such matters. But no one believes for one moment that’s what this session is about. This “DEI training” is a form of indoctrination and demeans law students based on their race. WILL strongly condemns this meeting’s proposed subject matter and demands that any racially discriminatory instruction be removed. By pushing racist ideology on law students, the University is defying federal law, creating a racially hostile environment, and harming individual student dignity. 

The Quotes: Rick Esenberg, WILL President and General Counsel, stated, “The student body is being subject to nonsense that ignores the rule of law and true equality in favor of a racialized way of seeing the world. The United State Supreme Court has stated clearly that justice is colorblind and race-based discrimination is against our human dignity. It is distressing to see our state’s only public law school requiring students to be ‘trained’ in a set of concepts which shreds the rejection of racial discrimination that so many fought so hard to make the law of the land. We are asking the University of Wisconsin-Madison to take a serious look at the materials they just distributed to the student body and decide if this is accomplishing its core goals and mission. To us, the answer is obvious.”    

Skylar Croy, WILL Associate Counsel, and a former UW Law Student, stated, “There was nothing like this at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when I received my law degree from them in 2019. To see this happen to a university I love is so disappointing and for the sake of true education, we hope they reconsider discussing this subject matter during this mandatory meeting.”   

A UW law school student who wanted to remain anonymous stated, “Programs like these make me feel as if I cannot speak openly in my classes, nor with my peers. I do not feel that this culture promotes intellectual diversity, but rather a singular way of thinking. I should not feel ashamed that I do not choose my friends by the color of their skin. I should not feel ashamed that I believe in diversity in thought, rather than diversity in appearance. It is disheartening that this institution does not agree.”  

From the University: In an email to students, Lauren L. Devine, J.D., the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the University of Wisconsin Law School, stated to the entire first-year student body, “Re-Orientation is intended to do just that – reorient you now that you have your first semester of law school behind you and a new semester ahead. Re-Orientation will include a presentation from representatives from OCPD, Financial Aid, the clinics, Academic & Student Affairs, as well as a follow-up to the DEI session you attended during Orientation.” The University stated multiple times that this “re-orientation” meeting is mandatory. Students were asked to review Attachment 1 and provide responses to Attachment 2, which was titled “Race Timeline Worksheet.”     

The attachments assert a racist view of the world and propagate harmful racial stereotypes. The materials assert the following claims: 

  1. Only white people can be racist. 
  2. Advocating for a “colorblind” society is racist and “negates” the “experiences of people of color.” 
  3. It is racist to attack affirmative action. 
  4. All white people experience “privilege based on your white skin color. You benefit from this system of oppression and advantage no matter what your intentions are.” 
  5. White people have a “fear of people of color and what would happen if they gained control.” 
  6. White people all are infected with “whiteness,” “white guilt,” “denial,” “fear,” and “privilege.” Ridding white people of “racist conditioning” “will never happen.” 
  7. “There are no exceptional white people” such that all are tainted by skin color. 
  8. “All white people are the “beneficiaries of racism and white privilege.”
  9. White people should never talk about their “own story of hardship” because it “diminishes the experiences of people of color.” 
  10. All white people “attempt to excuse, defend or cover up racist actions of other white people.” 

The problem is obvious. “Training” that asserts these racialized assertions as fact requires a universalized assumption of oppression and reduces both black and white students to archetypes—to avatars in a contrived and undefined “system.” It undermines the impartiality and human dignity that our system of justice is called to uphold. It is unworthy of a law school. 

(Excerpts from Attachment 1)

(Excerpt from Attachment 2)

About WILL’s Efforts: This press release is part of WILL’s nationwide Equality Under the Law Project. Since 2021, WILL attorneys have represented over 50 clients in 18 states. All clients are represented pro bono. The United States Supreme Court recently decided that colleges and universities may no longer use race as a factor in admissions. This practice, commonly called “affirmative action,” was declared unconstitutional in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. That decision, however, has much broader implications: it confirms that federal civil rights laws demand “colorblind” treatment of all individuals in America. Since the Harvard Decision, WILL has launched numerous legal challenges to race-based, discriminatory programs across the country.    

Find out more at will-law.org/equality.  

Read More: 

Rick Esenberg

Rick Esenberg

President and General Counsel

Skylar Croy

Skylar Croy

Associate Counsel

Dan Lennington

Dan Lennington

Deputy Counsel

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