Boston University’s Law Student Government Association (SGA) has been advising its constituents to use the university’s wellness resources in response to the emotional impact some students reported following the Supreme Court’s most recent rulings. As notable as these rulings are, the reaction from BU’s SGA is yet another example of the direction some of our nation’s universities are heading.
The rulings in question from last week overruled race-based college admission practices, dismissed the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan, and upheld a Christian web designer’s right to decline web-hosting services to same-gender couples. BU’s SGA released a critical email message targeting these rulings. They alleged that the justices joining the majority decision in the admissions case advocate for a ‘colorblind’ admission process, which they believe undermines diversity and the rights of marginalized communities.
Boston University encourages students to seek therapy after Supreme Court rulings.
"BU also offers a number of wellness resources that are willing and able to help students navigate these times."
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) July 1, 2023
Of course, this isn’t an isolated incident. We’ve seen similar reactions and responses at other esteemed law schools nationwide. Stanford Law School students shouted down a presentation by U.S. Fifth Circuit Appellate Judge Kyle Duncan. Judge James Ho, also of the Fifth Circuit, declared that he would no longer consider clerks from Yale Law School after over 100 students attempted to disrupt a bipartisan panel on civil liberties. Georgetown Law students called for the firing of Professor Ilya Shapiro for suggesting that Supreme Court nominations should be merit-based, not race-based.
The sentiment behind these actions suggests an emerging pattern of emotional reactions to controversial topics. Critics may argue that it is the responsibility of law students to objectively assess the law and its implications, not to allow personal feelings to cloud their judgment. Others see the encouragement of therapy as an inappropriate response to disagreements with the law.
Fox News readers, for example, criticized the trend, calling it a sign of weakness. One commenter wrote, “I’m a lawyer and I can’t believe what weaklings today’s law students must be. Attorneys need to be resilient and logically intelligent NOT driven by emotional immaturity.”
It’s important to note that mental wellness is crucial, and universities are responsible for supporting their students’ mental health. However, when the rationale for offering support is centered around a legal disagreement, we must ask: Are we nurturing resilience in our future leaders or encouraging a culture of emotional fragility?
The SCOTUS rulings are substantial. Still, they’re part of the democratic process that our nation is built upon. Even as we respect the right to dissent and engage in passionate dialogue, it’s critical to remember that disagreements with these rulings should inspire further study, not despair. The practice of law requires both mental toughness and the ability to engage with opposing viewpoints respectfully and effectively.
In the end, the response from Boston University and similar institutions raises essential questions about the readiness of future lawyers for real-world challenges. A successful career in law often necessitates handling high-stakes, contentious issues. How these students navigate such circumstances will speak volumes about the education they received and the values they’ve learned.