Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
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evilgenius
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Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby evilgenius » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:00 pm

Over the last month I have attended quite a few ASD's and have been somewhat intimidated by the dismal number of prospective and current students from under-represented communities. I know that's why we are called URM's and non-trads -there aren't many of us in law school. But its still shocking when I'm able to count the # of URM's on one hand.

While I'm usually extremely confident, these events have made me think about what law school is like for URM's. I grew up in an urban area, and attended an extremely diverse and progressive college for undergrad, so I never really experienced being the only minority in a classroom, work environment, or other professional setting. I know that I probably shouldn't care so much about other students but feeling isolated can take an emotional toll.

So I have a few questions for both current law students and those that are attending/have attended not-so-diverse undergrad schools....

Is being one of a very small # of URM's or non-trads in your school intimidating?
Has being intimidated affected your grades?
Do students or faculty treat you as though you "don't belong" or as though you're an "affirmative action case"?
Anyone have stories about discrimination or being stereotyped?
Are any other 0L's worried about this? Should I be worried?
What did you do to cope?
Last edited by evilgenius on Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.

centricisgreat1908
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby centricisgreat1908 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:02 pm

good topic, I am interested in some informed responses here too!

carlkenneth
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby carlkenneth » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:13 pm

centricisgreat1908 wrote:good topic, I am interested in some informed responses here too!


+1

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evilgenius
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby evilgenius » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:34 pm

Come on, there have to be some folks out there dealing with this as undergrads.

tropskys
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby tropskys » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:37 pm

evilgenius wrote:Over the last month I have attended quite a few ASD's and have been somewhat intimidated by the dismal number of prospective and current students from under-represented communities. I know that's why we are called URM's and non-trads -there aren't many of us in law school. But its still shocking when I'm able to count the # of URM's on one hand.

While I'm usually extremely confident, these events have made me think about what law school is like for URM's. I grew up in an urban area, and attended an extremely diverse and progressive college for undergrad, so I never really experienced being the only minority in a classroom, work environment, or other professional setting. I know that I probably shouldn't care so much about other students but feeling isolated can take an emotional toll.

So I have a few questions for both current law students and those that are attending/have attended not-so-diverse undergrad schools....

Is being one of a very small # of URM's or non-trads in your school intimidating?
Has being intimidated affected your grades?
Do students or faculty treat you as though you "don't belong" or as though you're an "affirmative action case"?
Anyone have stories about discrimination or being stereotyped?
Are any other 0L's worried about this? Should I be worried?
What did you do to cope?


My educational experience has been the exact opposite of yours. K-12 I was always the only minority in any of my classes. When I got to high school I was one of about 20. I attended undergrad and graduate school at PWIs (predominately white institutions). The law school I will be attending is also a PWI. To answer your questions:

Is being one of a very small # of URM's or non-trads in your school intimidating?

It wasn't intimidating, but I wondered if other people were noticing that I was the only minority around (K-12). In college, it only become uncomfortable in class when we started discussing something race related. I always felt like everyone was waiting for me or one of the few other minorities to have some really strong stereotypical opinion.

Has being intimidated affected your grades?

Not intimidated. The discomfort at times did not affect my grades.

Do students or faculty treat you as though you "don't belong" or as though you're an "affirmative action case"?

Never experienced this as a college student. Though the colleges I attended were PWI there were large numbers of minorities. As a matter of fact the undergrad I attended had a larger AA population than most of the HBCUs in the state. So even though it wasnt an HBCU, there is enough racial diversity to where you aren't sticking out like a sore thumb.

Anyone have stories about discrimination or being stereotyped?

I don't.

Of course my feelings were much different because as I said I was used to being one of very few minorities around. A few years ago I used to volunteer with high school students as a mentor. The school I worked with was 99% AA. When some of my students were accepted to PWIs, they were really nervous because they had always been in school with mostly other AA students. Going to a PWI was a huge culture shock but 2 years later all of them are having a great time and didn't have much of a problem adjusting. Their outlook was, most work environments aren't 99% AA, so might as well get used to the racial diversity that exists in this country at some point (sooner rather than later).

Edit: Wanted to add that though I haven't personally experienced discrimination or being sterotyped in college, I do know of other students at my undergrad that had that experience. Actually I could tell you tons of stories about racial incidents on campus. I remember one guy had another student tell him to go back to Africa during a class debate. The professor didn't do anything which started a big fight and protests. Also I remember an incident at another local college where a student spray painted racial slurs on a dorm.

Yet, most colleges have race/ethinicity-related student organizations (i.e., Black Law Student Association, Puerto Rican Student Association, Caribbean Student Organization, African Student Association) so you can always find some social connection.

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unknownscholar
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby unknownscholar » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:43 pm

evilgenius wrote:Over the last month I have attended quite a few ASD's and have been somewhat intimidated by the dismal number of prospective and current students from under-represented communities. I know that's why we are called URM's and non-trads -there aren't many of us in law school. But its still shocking when I'm able to count the # of URM's on one hand.

While I'm usually extremely confident, these events have made me think about what law school is like for URM's. I grew up in an urban area, and attended an extremely diverse and progressive college for undergrad, so I never really experienced being the only minority in a classroom, work environment, or other professional setting. I know that I probably shouldn't care so much about other students but feeling isolated can take an emotional toll.

So I have a few questions for both current law students and those that are attending/have attended not-so-diverse undergrad schools....

1.Is being one of a very small # of URM's or non-trads in your school intimidating?
2. Has being intimidated affected your grades?
3.Do students or faculty treat you as though you "don't belong" or as though you're an "affirmative action case"?
4.Anyone have stories about discrimination or being stereotyped?
5.Are any other 0L's worried about this? Should I be worried?
6.What did you do to cope?


I'll try to be especially careful here, so as not to give off the impression (again) that how you feel in these environments is exclusively your fault. Some of it can stem from how people treat you. In my own situation, walking into the door with many preconceptions affected my experience, most. I'm referring to my undergraduate and graduate school experiences.

1. It was, for several reasons. If I could pick just one, it would be that I was, at the time, also very different from members within the minority groups to which I belong. lol. I didn't want to be that way. At the same time I didn't know who the hell I wanted to be or where I fit in. Or who I could connect to. Ultimately my network of friends (in both grad and undergrad) shared very few of my URM statuses. But all share at least one. That was enough.

2. Somewhat. It was a combination of factors. I am a minority in 2 of the categories you mentioned and more. To the credit of the schools I've attended, the curriculum was much tougher than anything I could have ever anticipated. My study skills were not up to par for the challenging majors I had. I think realizing for the first time who you are in comparision with everyone else (which ultimately took precedence over the past 6 years of my life) was enough of a culture shock to distract me from giving my studies their due weight. If I could do it all over again, one major would have been enough.

3. I found that the faculty mentors for URMs at my school made us feel that the nonURMs at the school felt this way. I think they meant it as a warning/motivation. I didn't find it to be true most of the time, but there are a few landmark cases that suggested this had a high probability of being true. Examples below.

4. burning of t-shirts that were associated with a URM. several newspaper articles ridiculing minority groups for sitting together all the time in the dining hall, unfunded minority group organizations, hazing of URMs in an off campus setting. maybe this is small potatoes, but new for me. I wasn't an individual victim in any of these scenarios.

5. Not so much, because I intend on going to a law school in a location that is a lot more diverse than in the places I've been. Also no, because I'm finally beginning to get over feeling too different to connect with anyone. And this is not to suggest that this is how all URMs feel. This was how I felt. I've become more comfortable in my own skin. I don't think you should worry if you're completely comfortable with who you are. When you have a lot of otherness imposed on you, this is hard to accomplish, I've found. But living a life trying to ignore differences has been completely unrewarding for me. It makes for very uninteresting conversations.

6. I'm not really sure, to be honest. I think the frustration inherent in feeling separate and often times unequal has been enough to get me to the point where I'm happy being different and engaging my peers, despite what their preconceptions of me may be. Having grown up in the deep south and fallen in love with the east coast, I've noticed dramatic differences in how much room I have to feel comfortable than I was previously aware of. I think this is making it easier to adjust and have other adjust to me.

this a very interesting topic. I hadnt realized until now how little attention I've given to flesh out these experiences. And I have a feeling I've got a long way to go.

viking138
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby viking138 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:56 pm

I cannot speak to being a racial minority however I am certainly an economic minority at my undergrad school which is predominantly wealthy (50% of students receive no financial aid and tuition is about 50k a year). I realize this is not the same; I do not stand out in class in the same way I would if I was a racial minority.

However I have certainly felt out of place at times. A friend invited me to go shopping with them and spent $700 on clothing while I fretted about spending $80 on a winter coat. I'm often invited out to restaurants but I can't afford to go off the on-campus dining plan. A lot of school policies seem to sort of assume that students have the funds to do lots of things that I can't. So as an economic minority I feel out of place sometimes.

But I have loved my undergrad experience despite often feeling like something of an outsider. A lot of these people have amazing connections and I am sometimes offered help because of those connections. I would just suggest that you not worry too much about feeling out of place. It can suck at times but I think I've also become less of a "fit into the crowd" sort of person because of my experience being separate.

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ccs224
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby ccs224 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:03 pm

I am neither brown nor gray (though maybe starting to thin a little on top), so I can't speak personally. I did, however, teach for several years at a high school that was about 60% Hispanic, 35% Black, and 95some% impoverished. Many of the students I had went on to very competitive colleges whose ethnic and economic makeup was the direct inverse of what they were accustomed to. I've kept in touch with some of them as they've struggled through this. Many of them longed to return to familiar environments ("diverse" they liked to call it, though it really the opposite side of segregation - but that's another topic) where they felt everything was more familiar. My advice was always that, as long as they felt they were benefitting in the long run, they could suffer through a few years of being in the racial, cultural and economic minority - their world view and their ability to move around in the world would probably be enriched because of it as well. There are, after all, always ways to ingratiate oneself into groups that make you feel the most at home, regardless of whether this is in the classroom or not, and the bonds forged in these associations can often be quite strong. Most managed to adapt fairly well, while some "gave up" and went back home. I don't know if this advice would be applicable in your case, but it seems like it might be. If law school is going to move you forward in the long run, it is probably worth three years of potentially awkward or alienating experiences, and there are few places left in metropolitan America where you couldn't find some brown, gay and gray folks to help you pull through.

Edit: I would also add that as an older applicant myself, I don't plan on making too many friends with law students straight out of undergrad, but I do expect my greater life experience to be an asset both in class and in determining the real world applications of the law, as well as an impetus to bust my ass and secure a good job. If I end up someplace where I don't already have an existing network of friends, I don't plan on developing it through law school. That shits only your day job, after all.

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Postby soonergirl » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:39 pm

Only my hair is brown, and I'm not very gay. And the greys I've managed to hold at bay. But I'm considerably older than the average student. In fact, I'm considerably older than a lot of the students that count themselves as considerably older than the average student.

At first this didn't bother me much. I look young (okay, youngish) for my age, and I've got a youthful enough disposition, and I'm confident in my ability to be competitive in any classroom in the country. But once I started visiting the schools and getting these promotional booklets, it really started to hit me how young the other students are and how little I have in common with them. The 2Ls are trying to lure us to their schools by talking about, like, you know, how great the shopping is and, like, how fun it is to, like, hit the local bars with the other students. All the while I'm sitting here trying to figure out which college towns have affordable housing and decent public schools. :shock:

All the sudden I just feel so...old. :oops:

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Kohinoor
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby Kohinoor » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:44 pm

evilgenius wrote:Is being one of a very small # of URM's or non-trads in your school intimidating?

I haven't consciously felt intimidated but I have been annoyed at the dearth of minorities at times.
Has being intimidated affected your grades?

Wouldn't this be impossible to know absent an alternate universe where the contrafactual situation exists? I'll speculate no.
Do students or faculty treat you as though you "don't belong" or as though you're an "affirmative action case"?

Not sure. I don't socialize much. In my limited experience, no.
Anyone have stories about discrimination or being stereotyped?
Sure.
What did you do to cope?
Realize that if you couldn't handle law school, practice is going to be a rude awakening.

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trialjunky
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby trialjunky » Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:30 pm

I have experienced both sides of the coin. I went to Highschool in NYC so it was extremely diverse and multicultural. I went to undergrad down south where for many classes I was the only minority.

Is being one of a very small # of URM's or non-trads in your school intimidating?
Honestly, it can be. I felt like mistakes or answering a question incorrectly was feeding into stereotypes. For many of the students sitting beside me, I was the first black person they've ever spoken to for more then 20 minutes. Ultimately, you get over it but you’re very aware that your conduct could reinforce or break down stereotypical thoughts.

Has being intimidated affected your grades?
No, it's an impetus that pushes me to succeed. You need help? You'll have to ask this little black girl for it...not the other way around.

Do students or faculty treat you as though you "don't belong" or as though you're an "affirmative action case"?
I haven't experienced this. Some faculty members have been cold to me but I can’t pin it down to my race.

Anyone have stories about discrimination or being stereotyped?
Sometimes in class, I would get the questions about Beyonce or some rap star that apparently I HAD to know because I was black. Once in a while some one who believes their super liberal will make a fried chicken or watermelon joke and think because they're best friend is black they can get away with it. I just brush it off their ignorance.


Are any other 0L's worried about this? Should I be worried?
I am neither. I just know that I need to be better then the rest and I'll be fine. Some people just don’t care about race at all and some do. I'll hang out with those who don't see color and stay away from those who do.

What did you do to cope?
Succeed. Don't worry you'll do just fine.

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ricking1288
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby ricking1288 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:36 pm

evilgenius wrote:Over the last month I have attended quite a few ASD's and have been somewhat intimidated by the dismal number of prospective and current students from under-represented communities. I know that's why we are called URM's and non-trads -there aren't many of us in law school. But its still shocking when I'm able to count the # of URM's on one hand.

While I'm usually extremely confident, these events have made me think about what law school is like for URM's. I grew up in an urban area, and attended an extremely diverse and progressive college for undergrad, so I never really experienced being the only minority in a classroom, work environment, or other professional setting. I know that I probably shouldn't care so much about other students but feeling isolated can take an emotional toll.

So I have a few questions for both current law students and those that are attending/have attended not-so-diverse undergrad schools....

Is being one of a very small # of URM's or non-trads in your school intimidating?
Has being intimidated affected your grades?
Do students or faculty treat you as though you "don't belong" or as though you're an "affirmative action case"?
Anyone have stories about discrimination or being stereotyped?
Are any other 0L's worried about this? Should I be worried?
What did you do to cope?


White people are fun. I'm Hindu Indian went to a Catholic high school and chill with a significant number of white people in UG and white people are pretty fun and accepting unless u go to bumblefuck, USA, you shouldnt have any problems

reverendt
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby reverendt » Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:42 pm

I only share the "getting grey" characteristic, but for what it's worth....

I don't think it's affected much at all. We're all in the same boat here and there's a good bit of camaraderie.
The people I hang out with at school range from about 24 - 33 (I'm 38). They're the same folks I would be hanging out with if I was 10 or 12 years younger I think.
Nobody has been like "what are you doing here?" It's been a very positive experience.

I have an acquaintance who is black and gay (not grey). He does not appear to be having a negative experience either. In fact, he was just elected SBA president....which should speak for his standing in the student community.

scionb4
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby scionb4 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:48 pm

Go to a law school that is known for being accepting of URM's. Just as not all people are the same, not all Caucasian people are the same. At Berkeley, American, NYU, Oregon, Wisconsin, Colorado, etc. you will be very accepted and the fact that you are a minority won't at all be a problem. At schools like Notre Dame, Pepperdine, Alabama, Brigham Young, Baylor, etc., not only will you be a minority, but you will always be made to remember that you are one. This isn't a slight on Christian schools, as a lot of the ones that I just named are. However, having gone to a conservative Christian university, I can tell you there is minimal diversity and minorities pretty much all stick together. Just research schools that are accepting of minorities/alternative lifestyles/older students, and you should be fine.

SBimmer
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Re: Brown, Gay, and Getting Grey- Q's About Coping In Law School

Postby SBimmer » Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:04 pm

FWIW - I recently visited a T14 and received the warmest welcome from a 2L. We talked for about an hour and the 2L made me feel at home (as a AA male I don't always get the aforementioned reception). I'm not in law school yet, but as another poster said, "succeed" and you'll be fine. I do it every day in the corporate world.




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