National Affinity Group Statement: Amy Wax
As descendants of enslaved ancestors, immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and persons holding multiple identities among these, we reject Amy Wax’s hateful rhetoric that we and our communities are dangerous, inferior, do not belong, have made fewer contributions, and are inherently less able to utilize the law because of our skin colors or heritages. Wax, a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, has publicly and repeatedly undermined the characteristics, attitudes, abilities, and achievements of minority groups in America. NBLSA, NAPALSA, NASALSA, and HNBA-LSD firmly state that all minority attorneys and law students are worthy of being in the legal profession. Protection and recognition of the dignity, rights, and contributions of our communities, and of future generations—who must not be subject to false and incendiary narratives about their identities—remains our foremost priority.
In the fall of 2017, Wax, in a lecture titled “The Downside to Social Uplift” stated, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of [a Penn Law School] class and rarely, rarely in the top half.” Law School dean, Ted Ruger, quickly stated that Wax’s claims were false. Penn has had more Black editors of its main Law Review than any other university. Notably, three of Penn’s prestigious law journals are led by Black women.
On December 20, 2021, in an interview on journalist Glenn Loury’s web show, Wax criticized Asian immigration to the United States, warning of the “danger[s] of the dominance of Asian elite in this country.” Further, Wax stated that the United States is “better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.”
Most recently, on April 8, 2022, Wax appeared on “Tucker Carlson Today,” and stated that “‘Blacks’ and other ‘non-western’ groups harbor tremendous amounts of ‘resentment, shame, and envy’ against western people for their ‘outsized achievements and contributions.’” Specifically, Wax attacked Indian immigrants for criticizing conditions in the U.S. when “their country is a sh--hole.” Wax went on to say that “the role of envy and shame in the way that the third world regards the first world . . . creates ingratitude of the most monstrous kind.”
Wax was denounced by students of color at Penn Law earlier this year, formalizing a movement to seek her removal from the faculty there. It remains unclear how much longer the faculty review process—initiated by Dean Ruger in January—will take. Regardless, that Wax has been permitted to teach, supervise, and ridicule minority law students for over twenty-one years is alarming. Few understand how much more burdensome law school is for students who continuously receive the message that they are “less than” or do not belong. Penn Law must do more to protect these law students, and reject Wax’s odious rhetoric.
Wax’s view of “western” exceptionalism is rooted in white supremacist ideology; the illogical and racist assumption that the very existence of persons of color lacks merit or quality. Therefore, we shall not spend time detailing the validity, necessity, achievements, or excellence of persons of color in the legal profession. Minority law students belong in the spaces they occupy. In the face of bigotry and racism, our national organizations will continue supporting minority law students to succeed in the study and practice of law.
To hold Amy Wax fully accountable, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School should:
I. Investigate Wax’s continued employment at the Law School by examining whether her behavior complies with University Behavioral Standards, and is reflective of how students of color in her classes have received their grades, no later than August 15, 2022. The process should be transparent to students and alumni and the results should be available in a timely manner. During the investigation, the Penn Carey Law School must suspend Wax from teaching and prohibit her from socializing with students.
II. Provide further transparency into the Law School’s tenure requirements, the University’s Behavioral Standards regarding faculty conduct, and the mechanisms by which students and the University can take action against professors who violate these standards. This should occur no later than May 20, 2022.
III. Keep to its prior commitment to ensure that alternative professors teach all courses taught by Wax. This should occur no later than the start of the 2022–23 academic year.
Based on her continued harmful remarks against people of color, we believe Amy Wax has proven herself unfit to continue as a member of an academic staff.
The National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA)
On behalf of APALSA chapters across the country
Dillon B. Yang, President of NAPALSA
The National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA)
On behalf of BLSA chapters across the country
Richard Garzola, Chair & CEO of NBLSA
The North American South Asian Law Students Association (NASALSA)
On behalf of SALSA chapters across the country
Divya V. Advani, President of NASALSA & Shivani Parikh, President-Elect of NASALSA
Links to Media Coverage: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/black-asian-law-students-call-professor-suspended-offensive-remarks-rcna25187; https://nextshark.com/amy-wax-held-accountable/; https://6abc.com/penn-law-professor-university-of-pennsylvania-amy-wax-racist-beliefs/11777661/; https://abcnews.go.com/US/professors-hateful-rhetoric-prompts-student-calls-accountability/story?id=84214545; https://news.yahoo.com/penn-law-professor-claims-black-163200988.html; https://webtimes.uk/law-student-organizations-call-on-penn-law-to-investigate-suspend-professor-amy-wax/; https://thegrio.com/2022/04/21/black-asian-students-demand-upenn-suspend-professor-for-racist-comments/; https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/04/22/penn-law-professor-who-claims-black-students-are-jealous-of-western-peoples-achievements-whines-about-academic-freedom-as-law-students-demand-her-resignation/; https://www.theroot.com/calls-for-upenn-professor-suspension-after-racist-remar-1848822897;
NAPALSA STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH PENN LAW APALSA AND SALSA AGAINST PROFESSOR AMY WAX
January 10, 2021
The National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (“NAPALSA”) stands in solidarity with the University of Pennsylvania Law School (“Penn Law”) Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (“APALSA”) and Penn Law South Asian Law Student Association (“SALSA”) in condemning the recent remarks made by Penn Law Professor Amy Wax. NAPALSA supports all of the demands APALSA and SALSA made in this letter in calling for Penn Law to (1) immediately investigate Professor Wax for her comments and to suspend her throughout the investigation and (2) reaffirm its commitment to diversity and racial justice.
Professor Wax recently made disturbing comments in an interview on December 20, 2021 about how “the United States is better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.” Her comments come at a time when the Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community faces a disturbing increase in hate incidents against our community as a result of COVID-19. This rise in hate incidents against AANHPIs has resulted in brutal assaults and even death of some in our community. Professor Wax’s comments only add to false, negative, and harmful perpetual foreigner stereotypes used against AANHPIs. Her comments are without a doubt xenophobic and racist and should be condemned by Penn Law and the rest of the legal community as a whole.
This is also not the first time Professor Wax has made disturbing comments. In September 2017, Professor Wax made racist comments about how she observed Black students are “rarely, rarely in the top half” of classes. And in July 2019, Professor Wax made xenophobic comments while discussing U.S. immigration policy in which she noted how the U.S. would “be better off with more whites and fewer non-whites.” Following her prior comments, Penn Law’s Dean Ted Ruger merely rebuked Professor Wax’s comments and continued to allow Professor Wax to teach without sufficient accountability for her harmful comments.
The gravity of Professor Wax’s comments and Penn Law’s prior lack of accountability against her only further our support for APALSA and SALSA’s demands found in this letter. We stand in solidarity with APALSA and SALSA and co-sign onto their letter on behalf of our member chapters across the country.
NAPALSA Board 2021-2022
National Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA) is a national student-led organization representing Asian Pacific American law students. Our board consists of diverse and dedicated law students from across the country. NAPALSA was founded in 1981 to support, advocate, and provide a voice for AAPI law students. We provide extensive networking opportunities for our law students to observe and learn from practicing attorneys and judges. We also work closely with national organizations such as the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) in providing more opportunities for students. Visit www.napalsa.com to learn more.
NAPALSA condemns the murder of 8 people including 6 Asian women in a deadly hate crime spree in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16, 2021.
March 18th, 2021
We are saddened and heartbroken over the eight lives that were cruelly taken on Tuesday. Six Asian women were among the people murdered in this deadly hate crime. We unequivocally condemn all violence, but there is something especially sinister about violent hate crimes. As members of the Asian Pacific American community, this attack conjures up feelings of isolation, voicelessness, and immense sadness.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans increased 150% over 2020, according to a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. The analysis also showed this spike in hate crimes began during March and April of 2020 when increases in COVID cases fueled negative perceptions of Asian Americans. The use of the term “China virus” by some government officials sowed distrust against Asian Americans for some Americans and lent some legitimacy to xenophobic beliefs.
This isn’t the first time America has confronted such heinous deadly acts against our community. To name just a few, in 1871, 20 Chinese Americans were lynched to death while many more were injured in the Chinese Massacre in Los Angeles. In 2001, a white supremacist murdered two South Asian Americans and injured a third in Dallas, TX as revenge for 9/11. In 2017, a similar incident occurred in Olathe, KS resulting in the murders of two Indian men.
Racist perpetrators of hate crimes have disproportionately targeted female-identifying Asian Americans. Female-identifying Asian Americans experience intersectional discrimination in terms of race and gender. For example, from March 2020 to February 2021, 68% reported anti-Asian hate incidents occurred against female-identifying survivors. Of the reported anti-Asian hate incidents, female-identifying Asian Americans are 2.3 times more likely to have experienced anti-Asian hate incidents than male-identifying Asian Americans.
Violence targeted at certain racial or ethnic groups is nothing new in America. Black Americans have endured seemingly endless iterations of hate crimes, such as the deadly assault at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine people were killed in a racially-motivated attack. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the ingrained racism within governmental institutions and police brutality towards Black people. We still mourn and demand justice for Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, and George Floyd. We continue to remember them and celebrate their lives and demand justice for their deaths along those of the victims of Tuesday’s shooting.
When faced with each one of these tragedies, it is easy to say violence is not the answer. It is easy for us to pledge to eradicate racism. It is easy to share posts on social media. It is another thing to take tangible action. We know everyone is hurting as much as we are. We – like many of you – exchanged texts, shared articles, and talked about self-care strategies we were using to cope with the news.
In the coming days we will be sharing a toolkit full of graphics to share, numbers to text, templates for you to fill out to send to your elected representatives, resources to use to learn more, and fundraisers to donate to. Prejudice and violence have no place in America. With each person leading with light and compassion, we can hold those who choose to hate accountable for their harmful actions and continue to grow this great American experiment. Until then, love deep and live large.
With Love and Light,
NAPALSA Board 2021-2022
National Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA) is a national student-led organization representing Asian Pacific American law students. Our board consists of 15 diverse and dedicated law students from across the country. NAPALSA was founded in 1981 to support, advocate, and provide a voice for AAPI law students. We provide extensive networking opportunities for our law students to observe and learn from practicing attorneys and judges. We also jointly hold a national conference each November in conjunction with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) Convention. Visit www.napalsa.com to learn more.
NAPALSA Statement of Support for President Biden’s January 26, 2021 Executive Order “Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States” and Against Anti-Asian Violence.
February 9th, 2021
Dear Law Student Community,
NAPALSA condemns all forms of racism towards Asian Amercans and Pacific Islanders in the United States and fully supports President Biden’s commitment to addressing this issue. We commend the proposed actions in the order to combat this behavior, and the willingness to stand for what is right. As Asian Pacific Islander American law students, we understand one presidential memorandum will not eradicate racism towards our community in America, but we believe this is a good first step.
Racism against our community is increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic and was further inflamed by the rhetoric of the federal government. We are seeing instances of violence and other heinous acts against our community across the country. This includes the recent attack on Vicha Ratanapakdee, an elderly Thai-American in San Francisco, who later died as a result of his injuries. In other instances, members of the AAPI community have been spat on, called racial slurs, had their businesses vandalized, and been the victim of various other forms of hate crimes and hate speech.
This order recognizes the responsibility of the federal government’s role in fueling this behavior. It also sets out guidelines to remedy this issue by ensuring no communications or actions of the federal government or its agencies suggest any form of discriminatory behavior towards the AAPI community.
This is a good first step, but to guarantee the issue is addressed by all levels of society, we call on our community to advocate for their state and local municipalities to follow in the federal government’s footsteps with similar initiatives. We also call on our community to raise awareness of this issue in an effort to push for media outlets to shine a national spotlight on these atrocious attacks. This will help elevate this issue to the level of heightened recognition it deserves and help eradicate these racist assaults.
Racism has no place in a country built from immigrants. We all deserve an equal chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the country we love.
NAPALSA Board 2021-2022
NAPALSA Statement on Election Decertification & Violence at Capitol
January 7, 2021
Dear Law Student Community,
NAPALSA condemns the armed violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and the attempts to discredit the 2020 Presidential election and overthrow the will of the American people. We are with those who are hurting, afraid, confused, and angry.
As law students, we are tasked with not only learning the law, but learning what it means to be a professional. We take courses on Constitutional Law and Ethics because they are the bedrock of American jurisprudence. We are attempting to better ourselves through developing new skills and knowledge rooted in this country's history. At the same time, we watch as the same skills we are learning are used to contort the country's understanding of democracy.
Our title is the National Asian Pacific Law Student Association, but neither nationality nor race excludes any law student in the country from membership. This is because we pride ourselves on striving to evolve to better serve a diverse society, especially in the most difficult of circumstances. The pattern of attacks in the name of White Supremacy cannot go unnoticed. Now more than ever, it is important that we support each other and ourselves through continued engagement and affirmation.
Thank you for your continued membership and camaraderie.
NAPALSA Executive Board 2020
NAPALSA Statement Against Anti-Black Violence
June 03, 2020
The National Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (NAPALSA) denounces and condemns anti-Black statements and violence in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As Asian-American students in the wake of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian bias and violence, we are compelled to speak out against racialized rhetoric from the highest offices of our nation that demonizes protestors based on the color of their skin.
We call upon our members to stay vigilant and to take time to revisit the history of civil rights and civil disobedience of our ancestors in this country. Recall that the term “Asian American” was created in the 1960s to unite us in hopes of greater representative and substantive representation in politics. In 1962, Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga entered the U.S. Congress. Soon after in 1964 they were joined by Patsy Takemoto Mink who was the first Asian American woman to serve in Congress.
This is the history that we know. Here is what we may not: the latter end of the 1960s comprised of Asian American students joining with Latinx, Black, and Indigenous student groups to strike and protest for the creation of Ethnic Studies programs at universities. Advocacy and solidarity, namely solidarity with minority groups, is a rich part of our history as Asian Americans that has made many American cultural achievements possible. The term “Asian” is vast, and so is our history. We contain multitudes, and thus, we are riddled with contradictions. As much of our history in this country is one of resistance and solidarity, it is also one of complacency in the face of anti-Black oppression.
Often stereotyped as the model minority, our identity has been used as a wedge to demonize minority groups who are described as refusing to assimilate. We must admit that we have not done enough to rebuke these notions, and that we benefit from a culture that has different rules based on the darkness of one’s skin. While we are often the victims, we are also at times the beneficiaries, and at others, the perpetrators. We must face the reality that the path to a greater future for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities, does not come without effort or discomfort.
As a student organization, we are made up of volunteers. We invite you to take this step with us. If you have been wading in these waters and are willing to share what you have learned, we are here to listen. If you need resources, we will join you to find them. We want to use our platform to support our community members to share resources and build together in a time where community and connectivity is desperately needed.
Please reach out to us via our website or by contacting the Regional Director for your area. Below is a link to Google Doc that has bail funds throughout the country. We thank you for your membership now more than ever.
Amanda Pham Haines
NAPALSA Executive Board 2020
Response to ICE Statement
George Washington APALSA
On behalf of APALSA, concerned affinity groups and student organizations, and our international student members, we write to bring to your attention the following new policy guidance issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) earlier today, July 6, 2020, regarding the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (“SEVP”) for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/bcm2007-01.pdf.
Under the new policy guidance, international students with F-1 visas must comply with the following conditions to maintain their status:
Students at schools with normal in-person operations are bound by all existing federal policies and regulations.
Operations that begin with in-person classes and transition to entirely online instruction after Thanksgiving qualify as hybrid under ICE’s definition. Students at schools with hybrid operations will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online and still maintain their F-1 status, provided that these schools certify to SEVP that:
the program is not entirely online;
the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester; and
the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.
Students at schools with fully online operations must depart from the U.S., transfer to an institution with in-person operations, or face immigration consequences, including removal proceedings. No new visas will be issued for those enrolled in fully online programs.
At the time of writing, it seems that GW does not fall under this category because the University previously announced its plans to modify its in-person accommodations. As the Law School and the University have yet to issue a final, conclusive guidance on its Fall 2020 Back to Campus Plan, GW and GW Law currently belong to either the second or third category: either operations will be a mix of in-person and online coursework, or operations will be fully online.
We bring this to your attention because currently, few international student voices are being heard in the planning process for the Fall 2020 semester. These students often pay the highest tuition fees and living costs, yet are not well-represented in any particular advocacy efforts at the Law School. At GW Law, the international student community is comprised of currently enrolled JD students and most LLM students, and will further include incoming 1Ls, transfer students, and the majority of the new LLM cohort. All international students need clarity, understanding, and support during this very trying time.
After consulting with members of our leadership and many of our current international JD students, we ask the Law School to:
Commit to hybrid operations. We understand that the Law School is currently planning for hybrid operations, with some classes online and some in-person. ICE classifies as hybrid operations consisting of in-person classes with entirely online post-Thanksgiving instruction. We ask that the Law School commit to hybrid operations for its international students.
Provide clarity by proactively answering our questions. We ask that the Law School provide its scheduling and registration information to students as soon as possible. The ICE policy has set out a very aggressive timeline for schools to submit their reopening plan to SEVP (one deadline is as early as July 15) and for the GW International Service Office (“ISO”) to certify student statuses (August 4). In addition to resolving visa complications, the additional, definite, and thorough information that we request will assist international students in finalizing urgent logical decisions unique to their circumstances for the upcoming academic year. For example, housing remains a large concern — many students have been unable to confirm or extend leases, resulting in involuntary move-outs from their current living arrangements in D.C., forced travel across multiple states, or outright departure from the country during a global pandemic.
Offer a conference call and/or briefing for all international students. In accordance with our request above, we ask that the Law School designate an administrative point of contact for the international student body and provide a conference call and/or briefing to all international students. This communication should clarify the status of the Law School’s plans, minimize confusion, and streamline answers to urgent and important questions. This conference call should be coordinated with the University’s International Service Office.
Ensure that international students will be able to register for at least one in-person course. International students are required to take at least one in-person course to maintain their F-1 status. For current J.D. students, that means that international students must register for at least one in-person course. The Law School should clarify specifically which courses will be made available in-person and work with students to ensure that these students will be able to register for those select courses, such as through priority registration. Even in the unlikely event that the Law School goes fully online, we ask that the Law School either maintain an in-person class for international students or provide international students with the option to register for an in-person class at one of the many schools and colleges across the University. This will allow international students to obtain the necessary visa and prevent international students currently in the United States from having to abruptly leave the country or transfer out of the university due to the new policy.
Work with the International Service Office to provide the requisite certification to international students. Because SEVP has set out such an aggressive timeline, the Law School should clarify how it will coordinate with the ISO and the University to present the reopening plan to SEVP. The Law School should also clarify how the designated official at ISO will be able to use Law School records to certify and issue the new I-20s that existing students need in order to maintain their legal status.
In addition, we recognize the incoming 1L and LLM international students face an entirely different situation. Assuming a hybrid model, these students may still be able to secure an F-1 visa (should their country's U.S. consulate remain open). However, should the Law School decide to conduct the 1L curriculum completely online, 1L international students — even those graduating from U.S. undergraduate programs with prior F-1 status — will be prevented from securing their necessary student visas. Therefore, we ask the Law School to take into account the tightened requirements for securing a visa to enter or remain in the U.S, and accordingly design a unique course of action for these students.
We stand ready to engage with you at your earliest convenience. We again ask the Law School to designate a point person for international students to contact should our student body and wider GW Law Community have any further questions.
NAPALSA ICE Policy Update
July 15, 2020
Good afternoon NAPALSA members,
We are relieved to share that the Trump Administration has rescinded the ICE policy released on July 6, 2020 that would have required International Students to leave the US if their program did not host in-person classes in Fall 2020. Harvard and MIT immediately sued the federal government with at least 17 states quickly following suit. Higher education institutions across the country began to modify their course offerings to comply with the policy in a way that protected international student’s immigration status and the health of their campus community during an international pandemic.
NAPALSA is reaching out to say that we will continue to monitor developments with this policy and encourage programs to vocalize their support of international students. It is important to us that you are aware that the policy has been rescinded, but more importantly, that you know your contributions to our community are not dependent on your immigration status. We are honored to be part of a community that is so diverse and rich in perspective, history, and knowledge. We also want to acknowledge the harm that this policy and surrounding discourse may have caused you and acknowledge that hurt.
We want you to know that you are not alone during these trying times. We recognize that many international students may be without their family members and support networks. We hope that we can help to fill in some of those gaps and offer you support and community.
NAPALSA can be reached via our website, or you can contact President.Napalsa@gmail.com to get involved, or to reach out to talk to a new friend. We hope to celebrate more good news with you soon.
Take care of yourselves, and each other.
Amanda Pham Haines
NAPALSA President 2020