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Drexel Law Review Fall 2023 Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion General Body Meeting

November 21, 2023

By Zahra Basiri

On October 10, 2023, Drexel Law Review members gathered to discuss the current state of Affirmative Action after the Supreme Court of the United States rendered their 2023 opinion in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, deeming race-conscious admissions unconstitutional.

The Journal meets once a semester to discuss topics pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Executive Editor of Membership and Inclusion alongside the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Student Life choose a discussion topic based on current events that may be relevant to Journal membership, the Drexel Law community, and the legal community at large. Then, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, a volunteer committee of first- and second-year editors, in conjunction with the Executive Editor, further plan for the meeting by providing reading materials to Journal to provide background on the topic.

In preparation for this year’s meaningful and respectful conversations, Editors read three articles centering the effects of SCOTUS’ decision. First, members read an article published by Indiana University Maurer School of Law, which discussed a joint diversity statement issued by the Big Ten law schools in the U.S. The joint statement expressed the law schools’ commitment to diversity and their pledge to continue promoting diversity, despite any ruling handed down by the Supreme Court. Members also read an article posted by Reuters pertaining to the law schools at the University of Michigan and the University of California–Berkeley. The article explored the ways the two law schools sought to diversify their student body after their respective states banned race-conscious admissions policies. These methods included considering whether applicants were first-generation college students, where they attended high school, and their family income. Lastly, members read an article from the Washington Free Beacon, which examined race-consciousness in law review admissions and the example of Columbia Law School’s journal delaying their admissions decisions in light of the Supreme Court decision.

Drexel Law Review’s general body meeting consisted of small group discussions where members shared initial thoughts and reactions to the decision and associated articles. One small group resonated with the Reuters article that expressed concern over the ripple effect the decision could have on the law school applicant pool. This might lead to a lack of diverse thoughts amongst Drexel’s law school student body, creating a less valuable experience and disadvantaging our surrounding communities, as the next generation of attorneys may be more homogenous without a variety in experience and perspective.

After the small-group conversations, law review members reconvened to share thoughts from small group discussions. Members mentioned the “alternatives” to Affirmative Action that certain law schools, such as Michigan and Berkeley, practice and questioned whether these “substitute” methods adequately capture what Affirmative Action has done for racial minorities. Affirmative Action has helped racial minorities permeate fields, like the law, that have traditionally been privileged and viewed as “unattainable”—how confident are we that these “alternatives” will continue to provide the same access? Discussions also revealed concern these different methods could be seen as proxies for race, which may ignite more litigation concerning conscious admissions practices. A member of the Journal’s Executive Board expressed apprehension that this “proxy” mindset could work to endanger other programs that seek to recruit more individuals from underrepresented groups, like the programs from the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group and the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. Members also contemplated Affirmative Action and diversity pertaining to Drexel Law and Drexel Law Review. Our law review admissions process currently includes an optional personal statement addendum that may be reviewed by the Board should the applicant score in the top forty percent in all other criteria. Is this enough to be consistent with the law, while still valuing diverse membership? One member suggested that Drexel, and in general law schools and law journals, should “broaden what it means to be diverse.”

The Journal remains committed to promoting diversity in all aspects with recruitment and admission of its Editors. Therefore, the Board will continue to partner with the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Student Life as well as other administrative stakeholders to ensure our mission for diversity is upheld in the parameters of what is legally permissible.