Law School Discussion

Minorities = Tokens to Pepperdine

Minorities = Tokens to Pepperdine
« on: April 15, 2007, 04:57:33 AM »
I attended Pepperdine for the 05-06 school year.  They had a meeting at the beginning of the year for minorities and told us "people like you don't usually do well at our school so we want to try to keep you out of the bottom fourth of the class."  Why don't they tell the minorities that they want to help them get into the top fourth of the class?  I told Dean Saxer that Pepperdine takes the wrong approach with their minority students.  She explained to me that minority students are well-sought-after and that Pepperdine has to lower its standards to let minorities in.  The group that I hung out with were all minorities who had been accepted to higher ranked schools and who had better credentials than the average admitted Pepperdine student.  They don't think highly of their minority students.

Also, Pepperdine distributes its minority students evenly among the sections.  How can that not make you feel like a token?

If you do chose to go to Pepperdine, you have an advantage if you are religious.  Make sure to go to all of the prayer meetings so that you get in good with the Professors.  Information is not made available to everyone.  You have to know the right people to get the information you need.  Daughters and sons of religious leaders are put on a pedestal so try to hang out with them to get the insider information. They will have files with really good student outlines for your section.  They will also have the syllabi before everyone else so that they can get ahead in the reading before classes begin.  Get your hands on those syllabi and buy your books early so that you can get ahead.

I chose to leave Pepperdine to teach for a couple of years.  Hopefully I will get into another law school for the 08-09 school year.  Good luck at Pepperdine!!!


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Re: Minorities = Tokens to Pepperdine
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2007, 06:39:06 AM »

Also, Pepperdine distributes its minority students evenly among the sections.  How can that not make you feel like a token?

The rest of what you said is despicable if true.  This statement, however, struck me as being very unfair to the school (hell, to ALL schools that have AA programs).  As far as I'm aware, EVERY school tries to distribute minorities and different groups into each section.  Part of the purpose (at least according to U. Mich. and the Supreme Court) in having AA in law schools is to ensure a diversity of thought and viewpoints.  If a school were to lump all the minorities into one large section of their own, how would that add to the discussion in the other sections?  By trying to distribute all groups equally, it maximizes the possibility that different view points and life experiences will be present in each class for each section.  I can't fault the school here.

Re: Minorities = Tokens to Pepperdine
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2007, 06:24:02 PM »
I was also present at Pepperdine during the 2005-2006 school year, but in a different capacity.  I worked (and still work) as the Special Assistant to the Dean for Recruiting and Retention.  I am also a 2005 Pepperdine University School of Law graduate.  My name is Malana Jones and I have no problem using my name because everything I am about to tell you is completely true.  I will be happy to answer any specific questions either via email at, or on the phone at (310) 506-6468.  I can also put you in touch with current students who are now in their second year of law school here at Pepperdine and can verify what I am about to tell you.  I should also mention that I am African-American.

First, while there was an optional meeting for minority students co-hosted by BLSA and myself, the purpose of the meeting was to establish a cooperative network for all minority students who were seeking support – of any kind, whether it was academic, social, or spiritual in nature.  Obviously, the goal of a support network would be to assist each other in doing their best, although there was never any mention of the performance of “people like you,” especially since we were all minorities.

Second, there are a number of ways in which to encourage students to perform at their best, and it is understandable that one size does not fit all.  Dean Saxer at no point in time made the horrific statements she has been accused of making.  Additionally, the alleged statements are inconsistent.  If minority students are well sought after, then why would Pepperdine have to lower its standards to let us in?  If anything, Pepperdine would be required to improve its recruiting practices to entice us.  Also, in the same breath that it is claimed that Pepperdine does not think highly of its minority students, it is also claimed that Pepperdine feels that minority students are well sought after.  It has to be one or the other.  Speaking from experience, I know that Pepperdine treats every student as an individual.

Third, I do not even need to go into detail to address the absurdity of the final statements.  Not only was I not a member of the Church of Christ when I attended Pepperdine, but I was not even a Christian!  The statement about some students getting information earlier than others is completely unfounded.  Everyone has access to the same information at the same time.  I had the same access to amazing opportunities as did my peers.  In fact, before I returned to work for Pepperdine, I was gainfully employed in-house at a large corporation in Hollywood.

Again, I encourage anyone to contact me with specific questions.  Thank you.

Re: Minorities = Tokens to Pepperdine
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2007, 12:58:25 PM »
when i read this posting, i was very disturbed. after some reflection, i have decided to reply.  i won't argue with any of the points this person made, though i have serious doubts about some of the things that are set out as true. instead, i will share from my personal experience as a minority who chose to attend and eventually graduated from pepperdine university school of law.

yes, i am one of the "people like you" mentioned in the original posting. i am of mexican/american heritage.  i am an attorney in the state of california. as such, i am one of a very small percentage of chicano/latino/hispanic attorneys in the great numbers of attorneys in california. and i am proud to be included in the pepperdine family.

from the very first visit i made to pepperdine as i was trying to determine which school to attend, i had a positive experience. i found the faculty and staff to be unbelievably supportive. what is told perspective students about professors' open door policy and caring for students was, if anything, understated.  at any time, i felt i could (and very often did) walk into my professors' offices with questions about what had been discussed in class, about life, about career choices, about current events, etc. i felt completely comfortable with them and felt they were not only my professors but also my mentors (and as i later found, my greatest advocates). i truly felt they had my best interest at heart. i felt their genuine concern for me as a person.

while i believe that no school or organization is perfect, pepperdine proved to be a place where students were/are valued as individuals. at every level, the professors and administrators made an honest and sincere effort to give students a positive and rewarding experience, to provide an atmosphere where learning could take place, to challenge students to strive for legal expertise and personal growth. 

i was very happy to find a faith based school that lived by principles and values espoused by not only christians but also by the non-christian community at the school; a faith based school that practiced the golden rule, that actively espoused and sought out opportunities to serve others, that reached out to the students as individuals while still serving the many.

it is no secret that minorities are horribly under-represented in the legal field.  personally, i have comitted myself to helping change that. and i have seen and been inspired by the actions of others who have done the same. law school is a tough road to take, and the rewards are sometimes long in coming. but where there is commitment and passion, there is no sacrifice too great.

i readily and enthusiastically encourage students to consider pepperdine, not just for what the school has to offer a student, but also for what the student has to offer the school.  like every other school, pepperdine will benefit from an increase in diversity, and i see the actions pepperdine is taking to do so. there were times i wished there were more latinos, more african americans, more EVERYTHING at pepperdine... and then i saw the numbers. across the board, every school faced the same challenge as pepperdine. so i have taken a personal interest, made the personal commitment, to making a change, to be a mentor, to encouraging students to stay in school, to showing young people that regardless of color or their situation in life, they can achieve. my path in life included pepperdine, and pepperdine fostered and nurtured my desire to help others. for that i will be forever grateful.

if you are considering law schools, please take the comments of the original poster with a grain of salt. how big a mistake would it be to discount a school based on one anonymous comment on a website?  if you are truly considering the law as a profession, consider this: in law school, wherever you go, you will learn to draw information from a variety of sources before you make your decision, to 'gather the facts" before you act. i encourage you to do the same.  make a visit to the school, meet with students, meet with professors, tell them your concerns. let that be part of your decision making process.

you can benefit from what pepperdine has to offer, but equally as important, pepperdine stands to benefit from what you have to offer. so bring it...

finally, having had the privilege of getting to know and become friends with Dean Saxer, i feel i must respond to what is nothing less than a character assassination. the comments attributed to her were, at best, inaccurate and/or misinterpreted; at worst, flatly untrue. every interaction i had with Dean Saxer tells me that what was written in the original post did not pass the smell test. Dean Saxer proved to be one of several professors who took a personal interest in my success, who took my sorrows and losses to heart, who reached out and lifted me when i needed it the most. i know she is a kind and compassionate person who interacts with all her students equally. my heart aches to think people would see her in a negative light or as having said things so out of her character. i know you will find the same to be true if you meet her.

Re: Minorities = Tokens to Pepperdine
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2007, 04:13:59 AM »
Pepperdine values minorities for their minority status.  As long as you can become their poster child to be used to recruit other minorities, you are gold.  Also, if you will start or lead a minority organization on campus, they will love you.  But do they really love you, or what you can do for the university?  Of course, if you ask the Assistant to the Dean of Recruitment and Retention, she will say that they love you.

Maybe I'm being unfair and all schools are like that...  But I doubt it.

I don't think that Dean Saxer meant any harm in her comment.  She said it with a strait face and I'm assuming didn't think that I would take offense to it.  I'm not trying to attack her personally.  Overall, she's probably a nice person.  That's just what she said.  Myself and other minority students didn't appreciate that she said it and it only made us hate life at Pepperdine even more.  It just felt like that statement embodied our experiences at Pepperdine.  I'm not speaking for all minorities at Pepperdine.

I think that the best advice that I have for minorities who are deciding on schools is for you to talk to current students at the schools you're thinking about.  But that's not all.  Make sure that you talk to people like you.  By that, I mean to talk to people who have similar ethnic and political backgrounds to yours (but make sure that they aren't being paid to talk to/recruit you).  I wish I had done that.  It wasn't until the first semester was well under way that I talked to 2Ls and 3Ls who could have warned me.  Being a law student is hard enough as it is already.  You don't want to attend a school that makes you feel like crap even when you're not bogged down with reading.  It will just make you depressed that you didn't go to another school.

Also, ask current students about access to information.  It's all about who you know or what group you are affiliated with.  (maybe that's every law school too, who knows)  Some people get access to information that will allow them to hit the ground running and others do not.  Don't take my word for it.  Ask around and you will see.

Pepperdine is for a certain type of student.  This female hispanic liberal is not one of them.


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Re: Minorities = Tokens to Pepperdine
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2007, 06:25:55 AM »
if you are considering law schools, please take the comments of the original poster with a grain of salt. how big a mistake would it be to discount a school based on one anonymous comment on a website? 

I would certainly hope that anyone reading those comments would take them with a grain of salt.  At the same time, it's also helpful when we recieve thoughtful opposing viewpoints from the school/alumni when faced with comments like this, so thank you to you and MalanaJones. 

For the OP, I wonder how these comments will impact your transfer applications for '08?   I mean, how many academically dismissed Mexican-American female Pepperdine students who left after their 1L year in 05-06 will likely apply to other schools next year?  As Jacy85 said, if nothing else, the complaint about minorities being evenly distributed among sections could apply to many schools.

Re: Minorities = Tokens to Pepperdine
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2007, 02:19:18 AM »
Malana, you know that Saxer said those things to me.  I sat there and balled my eyes out in front of you and a group of peole while telling you about it during the Spring semester at one of your meetings.  You saw how hurt I was over her statements.  I couldn't hold back the tears while telling you about it.  Myself and others have talked to you about everything that I said in my original post.

Galex, why would my posting affect my transfer applications?  Everything I said was true.

Oh, and I meant to mention something in my previous post.  When you're trying to figure out where you want to attend and you're talking to students and/or staff about sensitive topics, make sure that you ask them "off the record".  Trust me, the responses will differ depending on whether it is on the record or off the record.  Current students and Alumni of law schools want their school to look good in order to maintain their place in or advance in the rankings.  So be careful about the context in which you ask questions and receive answers.  Talking to people in person is best, in my opinion.

Re: Minorities = Tokens to Pepperdine
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2007, 01:28:12 PM »
First, I will say that I'm just about finished with my first year at Pepperdine, and what I say "on the record" is going to be the same as what I say "off the record."

Yes, Ken Starr is our Dean, but there are several Associate Deans. Dean Saxer is Associate Dean for Academics. 

I do not have any minority experience, but I wanted to clear up the part about some people getting information before others.  Completely untrue.  All of my professors gave syllabi out to everyone at the same time, and they were always for several weeks at a time.  No one has the upper hand.  And access to other student's outlines is abundant.  Pepperdine has an amazing mentoring program and all our mentors have provided us with outlines specific to our professors.  What's more, we have access to the other mentor groups' outlines.  There is a professor who just started teaching here, and one mentor got a hold of an outline from a law student in Georgia and made it available to the entire section. 

Honestly, Pepperdine is an amazing law school.  The professors are always available (I have most of their cell numbers) and they truly care about their students as people.  My professors know more about what's going on in my classmate's lives than I do.  They embrace the opportunities that come with their positions and really make law school bearable.  I have no experience with other law schools, but I think that the sense of community here is a really distinctive, special thing. 

I echo the previous comments- if you are honestly considering law school, you shouldn't be paying attention to what anonymous people online say.  Talk to students, professors, grads.  I would be more than willing to talk to anyone about Pepperdine, feel free to ask! :)

Re: Minorities = Tokens to Pepperdine
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2007, 03:07:30 PM »
I had a choice between Pepperdine and Southwestern last year, I picked SW after i visited Pepperdine several times and met with a number of people there. I realized how badly the school lacks a diverse body.  As a true Los Angelino I can say Pepperdine isn't representative of the Los Angeles community. It's like a campus in the middle of mid-west America.  From what I can say, Pepperdine doesn't truely care about admitting minority students, they only look for lsat and gpa scores.  I am glad SW is dedicated to serving the Los Angeles community and my experience there has been wonderful.  As far as Pepperdine, the minority thing has really been a problem, I have to admit.  So these sentiments, from what i've experienced, are *somewhat* valid.