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Law professor Amy Wax walks through Penn Carey Law School on April 17, 2023.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Law student affinity groups reiterated their demands for Penn to fire Amy Wax after she invited white nationalist Jared Taylor to return as a guest speaker in her class.

On Tuesday, the Black Law Students Association posted a statement on Instagram urging the administration again to terminate Wax in light of inviting Taylor — and because of her “racist, vile, and absurd messages about Black students at Penn and Black people at large.”  

Taylor – the editor of American Renaissance, a publication that promotes eugenics – is scheduled to speak at Wax’s course LAW 9560: “Conservative and Political Legal Thought” on Nov. 28, according to a copy of the course syllabus obtained by The Daily Pennsylvanian. Wax, a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, previously invited Taylor to her class in 2021. 

"We urge Penn Carey Law to unambiguously and unequivocally uphold its commitment to a safe, inclusive, and forward-thinking educational environment by challenging its leadership to decisively reject any trace of bigotry within its corridors," BLSA wrote in the statement. 

BLSA wrote that it was hypocritical for the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School to continue to employ Wax as a tenured professor while claiming to be an institution “committed to realizing equality and justice within and beyond our walls” and championing Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander for being the first Black woman to have graduated from Penn Carey Law. 

“The reluctance of the administration to decisively address Wax’s actions sends an unsettling message to Black students: that our safety, well-being, and sense of belonging are secondary,” the statement read. 

BLSA first circulated a petition to have Wax fired in 2018. Since then Penn Carey Law has banned Wax from teaching 1L students — a year that is “important and influential in terms of dictating a lot of the kinds of the things that come in the pipeline,” BLSA Co-President Jared Turner told the DP. 

Penn is yet to announce whether it will sanction Wax — four months after a faculty panel held disciplinary hearings and over 19 months since an investigation began. The University has alleged that Wax’s controversial conduct and claims have violated Penn's behavioral standards, naming Wax's invite of Taylor to her class as one such example. 

"University policy provides that personnel matters and cases brought under the sanctions policy are confidential and public statements are prohibited until the proceedings have completed," a spokesperson for Penn Carey Law wrote in response to a request for comment from the DP. "As the process is still ongoing, the Law School is not able to comment at this time."

BLSA has been coordinating with student groups about whether to take additional steps, such as releasing additional joint or singular statements, holding a protest, or sticking to conversations and meetings. The group is also being supported by the Student Affairs Office and the Office of Equity & Inclusion.

“This is one [issue] that we feel is relevant to us, and one that we abhor,” Turner said on behalf of the BLSA executive board. 

President of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association at Penn Carey Law Yuan Tao told the DP that APALSA also plans to publish a statement condemning Wax in response to Taylor being invited back to campus. 

“Especially since [Penn Carey Law is] emphasizing the value of diversity and inclusion so much this year, it's quite shocking to allow a straight up white nationalist onto campus,” Tao said.

The National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association previously published two statements condemning Wax — one in 2021 and the other in 2022. Tao said that the Asian Pacific American community is “horrified” by Wax’s racist comments and that Taylor was invited to propagate such speech. 

“[The comments] are completely antithetical to our mission as a cultural affinity group on campus while our whole point is to promote various cultures and ethnicities,” Tao said. 

Students do not know about the status of Wax’s investigation — except that it is ongoing — or whether there have been any official repercussions for her, Tao said.

“The whole process has been fairly non-transparent… Even as a leader of an affinity group, we really don’t know what’s going on and what the timeline looks like," she said.

Penn Carey Law administrators approved of Wax’s request to have Taylor speak at her class in 2021 and also paid for his lunch at White Dog Café, Wax has previously alleged in legal filings. Members of the University community are protected from "official reprisal" for hosting "controversial speakers and events," according to Penn's interpretative guidelines for its open expression policy. 

Staff reporter Lara Cota contributed reporting.