Pricing their tuition at a whopping $67K a year, Washington University School of Law is up there with some of the most expensive law schools to attend in the nation. Your first thought may be that if attending WashU costs too much, you could just go somewhere else. Well, one student tried that and still got hit with a $17K bill.
After Allie Brown transferred to Georgetown, she thought she wouldn’t have to pay WashU for a year that she didn’t attend the school. Which… kind of makes sense. The bow on top of all of this is that she contends that WashU’s behavior is retaliatory. She got accused of being threatening by a professor and a couple of students:
The Student Conduct Board ended up dropping all of the charges, but she thinks the bill is allegedly WashU’s last attempt at a get back. If she doesn’t pay the forced tab, the school can withhold transcripts. Getting a job after school is hard enough without having to deal with that extra layer of bureaucracy.
There is a lot of drama and an alleged professorial breakdown that was recorded but not released by the university. It seems like the root of the conflict has to do with a debate about tone policing in law school. At one point, Brown used the phrase “Uncle Tom” and her professor chastised her to use more “professional language.” Dressing up your speech for class should be about as dated as dress codes for class — and I’ve seen plenty of people who have CALI’d courses show up in T-shirts or leggings.
Law school is structured to produce members of the profession, but there’s no need to LARP as if we’re in a job interview whenever we’re being cold called. There’s nothing wrong about criticizing the outcome of Marbury v. Madison as “a stupid power play where an asshole didn’t want to deliver a letter” rather than “a brash power play that deliberately masks itself as a labyrinthine musing on authority as to distract from the author’s clear political stakes in the outcome at hand,” so long as you can make a supported argument for your interpretation. Brown got in trouble for referring to something in a Race and Law class as racist. There are times when that term is applicable, say housing policies or discussing the Tennessee judge who gave Black kids criminal records for a made-up crime. Classrooms are not black-tie affairs, you should not have to speak with the same attention to appearance required to determine which fork is for salad and which is for dinner to participate in the exchange of ideas. To mandate that is not pedagogy, it is pretension — likely with a bit of classism on the side. To be preoccupied with the expectation that all of your students speak with a particular vocabulary or diction is worth ridicule, not the way that a student chooses to speak.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by tweet at @WritesForRent.