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Northwestern SBA President emails in this thread

Dear Classmates, I have only resigned my title...
Great Teacher Onizuka  02/06/07
Dear Classmates, In light of recent events at Northwe...
Great Teacher Onizuka  02/06/07
Dear Students, At Northwestern Law, we are proud of our e...
Great Teacher Onizuka  02/06/07
Dear Classmates, As expected in a situation like this...
Great Teacher Onizuka  02/06/07
Peter, I'm saddened by your comments. You and I both...
Great Teacher Onizuka  02/06/07
Dear LLSA, As your Co-President, I'd like to take thi...
Great Teacher Onizuka  02/06/07
What's a "diverse student group"? I don't have my ...
tortfeaser  02/06/07
Dear Classmates, I do not wish to be reinstated as or r...
Great Teacher Onizuka  02/06/07


Poast new message in this thread



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Date: February 6th, 2007 10:07 PM
Author: Great Teacher Onizuka

Dear Classmates,

I have only resigned my title because the administration and the

SBA Executive Board have forced my hand. The SBA Executive Board and school

administration asked me to step down as SBA President with only a month left

in my tenure, largely because I have expressed beliefs that are unpopular

with some members of our community. Some think that my expression of these

beliefs makes me unfit to perform the duties of my office. I disagree with

those who have asked me to step down, and initially refused; offering

instead to accept a dramatically reduced role in the SBA's decision making

process in recognition of the impact of my expression of these beliefs. The

administration and Executive Board did not accept my offer. I was told that

if I did not step down the administration would have stripped me of any

official duty that it could strip me of - they would cease meeting with me

as SBA President, and would have prohibited me from representing the school

at graduation, law board meetings, admitted student weekend, and other

events where the SBA President traditionally plays a role. In addition, the

administration would have released a letter to the public explaining these

restrictions - and describing my words (discussed below) as "derogatory

remarks." Cliff Zimmerman showed me two different versions of this letter;

the version to be released if I stepped down being significantly kinder in

its wording. The administration reached its conclusion to take this course

of action without once bringing me, the Executive Board, administration

members, and complaining parties into the same room. Finally, the Executive

Board would have conducted a plebiscite on whether I was fit to hold what

would have been left of the office of SBA President - the title. Given the

costs of going through with this process, it should be clear that I have

only "stepped down" from my position in the most technical sense.

To provide some background: There was a breakfast last Thursday

with Chief Justice Roberts to which a number of academic and

student-government leaders were invited. The administration asked me to

recommend a list of 10-15 "academic and community leaders" to attend this

breakfast. The administration had the final word on the invitees; this

should be obvious given the nature of the event, the addition of 10 students

to my initial recommendations, and the fact that my recommendations had to

be cleared with the administration. I was never told that the intent was to

invite the leaders of every student organization. The students at that

breakfast were an undeniably diverse cross-section of the Northwestern Law

community. These students were invited not as racial representatives, but

because of their leadership on the law journals, in student government, and

in student organizations with leadership positions open to members of any

ethnicity. Nonetheless, the leader of one of the ethnicity-oriented student

groups - a person I have always considered a friend - shouted me down in the

Atrium for overlooking the leaders of these groups. He told me that I took

the opportunity of a lifetime away from him. I should have walked away. I

had been up the better part of the previous evening and early morning

answering student complaints about the invitation list, and had continued to

field such complaints throughout the day. During what can only be described

loosely as a conversation, I stated my belief that our community would be

better off if all student organizations were organized around ideas, and not

ethnicity. It is this off-hand remark that is the primary justification for

my being forced from office.

I've often wondered to myself whether student groups organized

around ethnic identity ultimately unite or divide our community as a whole.

History, personal experience, and recent events on campus give me reason to

believe that both can be true. This is an issue that is the subject of much

scholarly debate. It is an issue that some on campus, including the

administration, believe an SBA President is forbidden from raising, as I

did, with the leader of an ethnicity-oriented student group. I am sorry I

did this. My suggestion was not well taken and I had good reason to know

that it would not be, but I did not think that this personal disagreement

was a good reason for me to be forced from my elected position. I recognize

that these groups make substantial positive contributions to our learning

environment; I only wonder whether the net positive would be greater if

these groups were organized differently. It is decidedly not inconsistent

to question the organizing principles of a student group and simultaneously

recognize its contributions. Unfortunately, much of the consternation

surrounding this particular comment as well as Cliff Zimmerman's email on

behalf of the administration explaining that I made comments that "dismissed

the value" of these organizations completely misses this point and

misrepresents my views.

I did not want to step down from my position because I am

concerned about what such an action represents. I have never been and would

never be unwilling or unenthusiastic about working with any student group

that approached me for help. I have never questioned any such group's right

to exist, and I have never questioned the value of diversity. I have always

been willing to work with any person of any political belief. Some now

believe that they should not have to work with me because they disagree with

my political beliefs. I have often been careless in expressing my opinions

but I have never shared an idea with a malicious intent. I have always

expressed myself with willingness to debate and discuss. I believe that

those who have forced me to step down for raising a question that is

relevant to the well-being of our community seriously undermine our school's

commitment to intellectual diversity. They send a troubling message that

certain ideas, while subjects of legitimate scholarship, are not open for

discussion in our community.

I have made mistakes that members of our community are

rightfully upset about. The timing of/context surrounding my expression of

the beliefs at issue could give the harmful impression that I do not

recognize the value of the contributions of certain student groups. This

impression could not be further from the truth, but I see how my actions

have given rise to it. I am deeply sorry for this. I offered to remove

myself from the SBA's decision making process in recognition of this. I do

not understand why this was not enough. My behavior was impolitic and

imprudent - but it does not come anywhere close to calling for the drastic

action of removing me from office as I have never, nor could I be shown to

have made a decision as SBA President in consideration of the belief at

issue.

I am sick about the fact that I have let my classmates

down. Serving

on the SBA is one of the greatest honors I have known, and I have enjoyed it

immensely. Northwestern Law has shown great leadership among law schools by

adopting policies that make our student body - and by extension our school -

something special. I hope that it will continue to do this by embracing a

commitment to diversity of all kinds, including intellectual diversity. I

hope that it will recognize the value of an environment in which all

students from of all walks of life and from any place of the political

spectrum can raise sensitive issues at sensitive times without severe

consequences. I will continue to try and reflect well on this institution.

My sincerest apologies to all I've offended and let down, and my thanks to

the many who have reached out in support. Please feel free to still

consider me your SBA President in an advisory capacity as my years of

service have given me a good idea of how things work around here.

Thanks, best regards, and sorry again,

Peter

* The complete list of students that I recommended for the breakfast: The

SBA Executive Board and 1L Rep, Law Review board members, 2 Editors-in-Chief

of academic journals, Federalist Society President, Fed Soc Board Member who

has been exceptionally active on SBA Committees and in SFPIF, ACS President,

STMS President. After two students responded that they could not attend,

and in response to concerns that only two 1Ls were included in a group of

28, I recommended two 1Ls active on SBA and in student organizations. Of my

18 recommendations, at least 6 were of diverse ethnic background. The

administration approved ALL of these recommendations in addition to inviting

at least 10 students without my recommendation.

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=576233&forum_id= 2#7557231)




Date: February 6th, 2007 10:07 PM
Author: Great Teacher Onizuka

Dear Classmates,

In light of recent events at Northwestern Law, the SBA Executive Board has

asked Peter Pattakos to step down from his role as SBA President, and he has

agreed to do so, effective immediately. While Peter has made significant

contributions to the law school over the past two and a half years, we have

decided to take this action after much consideration and reflection and feel

it is the appropriate response given Peter's comments and actions over the

course of the last few months.

The opinions that Peter has expressed to many of you are his own personal

views and not reflective of the SBA. The SBA acknowledges and values the

contributions made to the law school by the various diverse student

organizations on campus, which are an integral component of Northwestern

Law.

We apologize for any confusion and mixed feelings that may have arisen, but

hopefully we can move forward in a positive direction. Let's hope that we

all learn from recent events and continue to strive to make our law school

more accepting and more open.

As required by the by-laws of the SBA, we will be taking applications and

interviewing candidates for the position of SBA Secretary. For the

remainder of this SBA Executive Board's term, Hector Bove will act as

interim President, David Greenfield will move to the position of Vice

President, and Joanne Smith will continue in her role as Treasurer. If you

are interested in serving as Secretary, please submit a letter of interest

to Hector Bove (h-bove2008@law.northwestern.edu) by this Friday, February

9th.

The SBA will hold a school-wide meeting on Tuesday, February 13th at 1pm,

location to be announced. We will be available at that time to answer any

questions you may have as well as provide an opportunity for you to voice

your concerns. In the meantime, please feel free to email Hector, David, or

Joanne with any questions.

Sincerely,

The SBA Executive Board

Hector, David, Joanne

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=576233&forum_id= 2#7557232)




Date: February 6th, 2007 10:08 PM
Author: Great Teacher Onizuka

Dear Students,

At Northwestern Law, we are proud of our extraordinarily active and

diverse community. We have worked diligently to create an environment where

diverse backgrounds and perspectives are welcomed, to attract a student body

whose proportion of diverse students is greater than that of most other law

schools, and whose regional roots span the geography of the nation and the

globe.

Our student-focused culture is another unique and defining

characteristic. Student groups are given great latitude to create

programming and opportunities for their respective constituencies and the

community as a whole; students are also given wide latitude and

responsibility to pursue these activities with the support of, rather than

intervention by, the Law School. However, when actions undermine the Law

School's mission or values or cause harm, the Law School must weigh the

value of student autonomy and responsibility against the necessity to

counter those actions that compromise our efforts to maintain a diverse,

collegial, and supportive community.

We have investigated the chain of events which led to the omission of

several student group leaders from last week's Student Leadership Breakfast

with Chief Justice John Roberts. While part of the problem was

administrative in nature, that mistake has been overshadowed by Peter

Pattakoss subsequent comments that dismissed the value of the organizations

of the uninvited leaders. Having acknowledged the serious affront to the

student leaders in his comments, Peters decision to resign is the right one

for himself, for the SBA, and for the Law School. We continue to support

and encourage the autonomy and proactivity of our student groups, however

such support will not be extended at the expense of our commitment to

maintaining our community, its diversity, and its collegiality.

David Van Zandt

Cliff Zimmerman

Audra Wilson

Don Rebstock

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=576233&forum_id= 2#7557237)




Date: February 6th, 2007 10:08 PM
Author: Great Teacher Onizuka

Dear Classmates,

As expected in a situation like this, there are a lot of student

questions, concerns and opinions that need to be voiced. We agree that it

was a mistake to wait so long for an SBA meeting, as a result we have

decided to move up the meeting. The school-wide SBA meeting will be held

tomorrow, February 6th at 12:30pm. I will send out an email tomorrow with

the room information. We encourage everyone to attend the meeting. At the

meeting we will go more in depth regarding the process that resulted in this

decision as well as try to address any concerns you may be having.

At this time, we did want to clear up one point regarding the process to

date. As Andrew Kim accurately stated, the SBA by-laws do not currently

have a section regarding the removal of an executive board member. An

executive board member cannot be removed by a vote of the board or by a vote

of the student body. Peter chose to step down as President. Going forward,

we think it important to amend the by-laws to include a section on removal.

In order to amend the by-laws, the proposed amendment is posted around the

law school and a week after the posting a school-wide meeting is held to

open discussion and voting. The proposed amendment can be passed by a vote

of 2/3's of those present at the meeting. If you have suggestions for the

wording of an amendment regarding the removal of a SBA Executive Board

Member please feel free to email them to me.

Sincerely,

The SBA

Hector, David, Joanne

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=576233&forum_id= 2#7557238)




Date: February 6th, 2007 10:09 PM
Author: Great Teacher Onizuka

Peter,

I'm saddened by your comments. You and I both know that is not why I was

upset about the invite list. I did not say that you took an opportunity of

a lifetime away from me. I said, while describing the impact of your

decision, that it was not a small event, that it was the chance of a

lifetime for anyone to go. I wrote down the conversation you and I had

shortly after we had it, simply because I knew this might come up, and then

I confirmed it with a respected 3L who was standing by during our

conversation.

Here is what I have:

After Chief Justice Robert's speech to the general student body Thursday,

the President of the SBA approached me during the reception. He was unaware

of many of the complaints and meetings that he had sparked. He was unaware

that I, and many others had spent the majority of the day with Cliff and

Audra because his actions were a reflection of the administration. He asked

me how I was doing. I said, "fine." He asked if I was sure, because I

seemed upset. I told him that was probably not the best place and time to

have this discussion. When he pushed on, I told him that I believed the way

he handled the selection of "relevant student leaders" was ridiculous and

unacceptable. He defended his actions saying that he chose the most

relevant groups based on who would impress CJR. He said it didn't matter

because "we impressed him" and the breakfast went fine. I asked how he

could ignore a group like BLSA, during Black History Month, with such a huge

student base, and an entire month's worth of programming. I asked him how

he could ignore LLSA, another group with a month of programming that won

Best Student Group of the Year last year, how we could be less relevant.

His response blew me away:

"I would dismantle all of your groups. If it were up to me there would be

no LLSA, BLSA, Salsa and Apalsa, because they don't bring anything to the

community, and they contribute to racial identity politics." He kept going,

telling me that he doesn't get caught up in racial politics and doesn't

believe in race based groups.

I responded by telling him he was doing a *'super'* job of representing

the students he was elected to serve. I told him he couldn't separate his

political views from his Presidential role, and those views shouldn't affect

the decisions he makes on behalf of us. This is especially true when the

administration makes the error of allowing one student to make unilateral

decisions as to who should attend an intimate breakfast with a figure such

as the Chief Justice of the U.S.

To the student body: That is what happened between Peter Pattakos and I

the night the Chief Justice spoke to the student body. I was not going to

publish this information to the listserv, if you've seen my personal email

to the Latino Law Student Association, you know that I toned down my words

and paraphrased Peter when describing what transpired. I've included that

email below. Obviously the administration and SBA felt that this, along

with Peter's other actions in the past month warranted removing him from the

board, or at least stripping his ability to speak at any events.

I'm available to answer any questions.

Sincerely,

Kevin Strom



(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=576233&forum_id= 2#7557246)




Date: February 6th, 2007 10:09 PM
Author: Great Teacher Onizuka

Dear LLSA,

As your Co-President, I'd like to take this opportunity to clarify the

events that led to the President of the SBA's resignation. These events

followed an already tumultuous month concerning racial politics.

*The Breakfast with Chief Justice Roberts:* One of the reasons the SBA

Executive Board asked Peter to resign was his actions in selecting students

to participate in a breakfast with CJR, in which Justice Roberts requested

to meet student leaders at Northwestern. The initial list of participants to

meet with CJR was comprised by Northwestern's Development Committee. The

list included NU Law Review members, Editor and Chiefs of NU Journals, and

SBA officials. The Development Committee then asked Cliff if this was an

adequate list that represented student leadership. Cliff modified the list

by adding many names and essentially doubling the list. That was the last

time Cliff viewed the list. Next, Peter was asked to discuss the list with

the SBA Executive Board, but instead of obtaining input by other members, he

returned a list of student leaders from organizations he felt were,

"relevant." This list excluded elected student representatives from active

organizations who have large memberships on campus (particularly the diverse

student groups) and elected members of the SBA.

The other Presidents of diverse student groups and I went to the

administration to voice our concern. Our main issue is not that we were

excluded from the event, but that Peter allowed an official decision that

was to be undertaken in his capacity as SBA President to be colored by his

own personal views of who he considers "relevant."

*Thursday night's reception: *After CJR's speech to the general student

body Thursday, Peter explained his reasoning. He defended his actions

saying that he chose the most relevant groups based on who would impress

CJR. He discounted the value of the diverse student groups and their

contributions to the community. He finally said that if it were up to him,

the diverse student groups would not exist. This is a position he has

repeated and defends. This led me to believe it was the reason we were not

invited to the breakfast with the Chief Justice. To have your own political

views is fine, but to allow them to affect the rest of our community and

Northwestern's Commitment to Diversity is unacceptable in my mind.

Please feel free to conduct your own research and make up your own minds

about all of this. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free

to email me, I'm always available to talk. This email represents my views,

not those of the SBA, the Administration or anyone else.

Sincerely,

Kevin Strom



(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=576233&forum_id= 2#7557248)




Date: February 6th, 2007 11:18 PM
Author: tortfeaser

What's a "diverse student group"? I don't have my copy of 1984 handy.

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=576233&forum_id= 2#7557712)




Date: February 6th, 2007 11:50 PM
Author: Great Teacher Onizuka

Dear Classmates,

I do not wish to be reinstated as or reelected SBA President and would refuse any such post. I am confident that our community will emerge significantly stronger from lessons learned in recent days. I believe this will be a long term gain. I admire the number of students who have offered thoughtful insight into the current situation - both privately and publicly. There are a number of important issues raised by these events - a process to reinstate me as SBA President would only distract us from these more important issues. I look forward to a productive discussion.

Thanks and best regards,

Peter

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=576233&forum_id= 2#7557998)