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Co-president of APALSA and third-year Penn Law student JiLon Li added multiple protests led by Penn Law students will be held sporadically throughout the day inside the law school building. Credit: Son Nguyen

Penn Law students will march and protest against Penn Law professor Amy Wax on Monday morning, urging the school to take action against her history of inflammatory comments.  

Penn Law affinity groups, such as South Asian Law Students Association, Black Law Students Association, Muslim Law Students Association, Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, Latinx Law Students Association, and Lambda Law, organized the protest with the help of the National Lawyers Guild, a Penn Law student group which promotes human rights.

Wax was denounced by Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger this summer after her comments at a conservative conference in July 2019. Wax argued that cultural distance nationalism, a view that the United States would be “better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites,” deserved more discussion. 

Ruger released an official statement on July 23 claiming Wax's remarks were at odds with Penn's values and policies and pledged to work with students to "heal" from the experience. 

“At best, the reported remarks espouse a bigoted theory of white cultural and ethnic supremacy; at worst, they are racist," Ruger wrote. 

Thousands have since signed the petition released by the LALSA on July 18. The petition called on Penn Law to denounce Wax’s statements and relieve her of all teaching duties, “as they serve to further her platform and lend her legitimacy.” 

Co-president of APALSA and third-year Penn Law student JiLon Li said United POC asks those who wish to join the march and protests to wear all black in solidarity.

Li said United POC will distribute signs and posters to those who choose to march on Monday morning. At 8 a.m., protesters will begin to march from the Starbucks located at 34th and Walnut streets toward the Sansom entrance of the Penn Law school building. Li said the protest will then continue in front of the law school building until 9 a.m. when classes begin for law students.

In addition to the morning march, Li added multiple protests led by Penn Law students will be held sporadically throughout the day inside the law school building. 

Li said those who wish to participate in the walking protest Monday morning should contact National Lawyers Guild co-chair and second-year Penn Law student Maddison Gray. 

The protest will be held on the same day as Parents and Partners Day, an annual event where law students’ parents and partners are invited on campus to experience a day in the life of a first-year law student.

“I think the purpose of placing the protest on this day is to raise general awareness not only within Penn Law but to people outside the law school environment as well,” Li said. “I think it’s an opportunity for us to communicate that this is something that is happening in the law school and it is something that won’t be tolerated.”

While Li said one of the main goals of the protest is to urge the University to remove Wax’s tenure, United POC also urges Penn Law to take up other initiatives to “make the school a more accepting place to students of color.”

“For example, securing some sort of permanent space for [affinity groups] at the law school and having a diversity fund to increase funding for our groups and programming,” Li said.

Li said posters will feature Wax’s comments from over the years which have marginalized people of color, women, and the LGBT community. Some quotations will feature her comment that America is “better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.”

“One thing I think is important to remember is that this [comment] is not an isolated incident or comment from Professor Wax,” Li said. “This has just been the most recent in history of comments that have targeted minorities and essentially any group that is not white men.”

In August 2017, Wax called Anglo-Protestant cultural norms superior, and in March 2018, she claimed she had never seen a black Penn Law student graduate in the top quarter of their class. After students and alumni created a petition against Wax for her insensitive remarks, Ruger barred her from teaching mandatory first-year law courses.

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