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THREAD. I have been thinking about @WalshFreedom's question, which sparked a thoughtful thread. Some additional thoughts, based on my experience considering "character and fitness" issues for law school applicants when I was dean of admissions for a law school:
2. I reviewed close to 40,000 applications as dean, an encountered almost every possible criminal and disciplinary and character issue out there (though tbh, never a photo in blackface), and I generally considered the following five things:
3. First, DISCLOSURE. Laying things out up front is important because it shows character and values. It is a willingness to risk something you want very much (in this case, getting into law school), because you believe that honesty and transparency is more important.
4. Second, SEVERITY OF OFFENSE. Obviously important. Did it cause harm to other people, or property? Was there an intent to cause harm? Would a reasonable person in this position have made a different choice, or taken a different action?
5. Third, TIME SINCE THE INCIDENT OCCURRED. This reveals the extent to which the motivations behind those actions are still a part of you. A drunken brawl at a house party at 16 is different than punching someone in the face two months before you apply to law school.
6. Fourth, ACCEPTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY. Another indication of character, because it shows you are willing to own your actions and its consequences. Ifs Ands or Buts don't really cut it here, particularly as they relate to the values and standards expected by the profession.
7. Fifth, ABILITY TO REFLECT ON *WHY* THIS HAPPENED. To me, this was super important, is it revealed both the maturity and self-awareness to step outside of oneself and learn, as well as the capacity for this person to be different, and perhaps even better, in the future.
8. I don't think there's any particular weight to any of the above -- it's a "totality of the circumstances" evaluation on a case-by-case basis. And reasonable people can, and do, disagree. But it's a helpful way to at least try to make sure everyone is held to the same criteria.
9. Sadly, politics is, I think, ill-suited to taking all these factors into account. It by nature is public, so public opinion weighs heavily. Also it's competitive, and so *any* concession on the above factors is a "win" for the other side. So the incentive is to avoid all.
10. This is too bad, because issues like racism and sexual assault deserve a more careful conversation, and could be opportunities for there to be a more meaningful and healing discussion for people who have been victims of certain kinds of actions and those who did them. END
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