On selecting the new SLS dean


Dear Provost Drell and Professor Schachter,

We write to you as student leaders to offer our input in your search for the next dean of SLS. We appreciate the difficulty and gravitas of the work before you. The dean you choose to lead SLS will set the tenor of legal education not only here on campus but also at law schools across the country. Considering this, we believe that SLS has not only an opportunity, but also an obligation, to choose a dean who will be a leader, not just an ally, in championing an anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-classist legal education.

Though we represent students with a range of backgrounds and interests, we are united by our desire to see a dean who holds the following values, whoever they may be:

A dean whose vision for the law school is centered on diversity and inclusion.

Implementing the recommendations of the 2018 Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion is non-negotiable. We also expect the search committee to look for a dean who will go above and beyond the Working Group report and engage proactively and continuously with diversity and inclusion issues at SLS and in the legal field as a whole.

A dean who will stand in solidarity with marginalized students.

We expect a dean who will ensure that all students are safe and welcome at SLS. The next dean must understand that respecting ideological diversity need not come at the expense of confronting real threats to inclusion, civility, and intellectual pursuit. We expect a dean who actively supports students and faculty from groups historically marginalized in the legal field, particularly those from minority and low-income backgrounds. Such support must also include a commitment to preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the legal profession and within law schools.

A dean who is committed to building community between students, faculty, staff and alumni.

We expect a dean whose vision of community building includes supporting and engaging with movements that seek to hold the law school accountable and to improve the law school environment, like Racism Lives Here Too. We also expect that vision to include a willingness to engage with students on difficult issues and to promote student participation in strategic, institutional decision making. Further, we believe that community building cannot happen without a shared commitment to transparency.

The law can be a tool for liberation. It can also be a tool for oppression. We expect a dean who is unwavering in their commitment to the former.


Black Law Students Association Board

Native American Law Students Association Board

Stanford Latino Law Students Association Board

Asian Pacific Islander Law Students Association Board

Women of Color Collective Board

Stanford Law National Lawyers Guild Board

First-Generation Professionals Board

OutLaw Board

Stanford Law Students Against Gendered Violence Board

Stanford Law Democratic Socialists Board

Stanford If/When/How Board

Women of Stanford Law Board


To contact the authors of this letter, you may write to Rachel Waterman at mrw20 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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