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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, October 22, 2007

An Open Letter to the Five Deans

From: Andrew Doran
Date: Oct 22, 2007 2:29 PM
Subject: An Open Letter to the Five Deans
To: [email addresses redacted]

October 22, 2007

Re: Five Deans' Letter to Damon Garcia

Dear Five Deans:

I write to express my disgust that you, deans of a law school, would fix your sights on a single student in a pathetic attempt to bully him - and others by proxy - into submission. You assert that it is "reckless, baseless and offensive" for anyone to accuse the administration of an "intimidation campaign" - this in a letter attacking and impugning a student issued by deans of the administration. When the capacity for sound reasoning begins to falter, apparently the first thing to completely give way is a sense of irony.

To be sure, with each passing year there are fewer voices of opposition, and the memory of what Ave Maria School of Law was supposed to be, and once was, continues to fade. This trend is undoubtedly a source of comfort for the administration. Yet now, more than ever, you should be mindful of your duties to the students, rather than using your positions to see that all opposition is stamped out. Blaming the victim has worked to great effect in fooling the incoming students (the brightest of whom are already quietly making plans to transfer), but it won't fool the ABA.

Dean Castro: You above all the others should know better. You are explicitly charged with protecting students, not attacking them. Last year, you assented to the administration's decision to tarnish one AMSL alumnus' Character & Fitness Report for the bar - even though the law school was content to take his money for three years. And while you denied any involvement in this affair to me, we both know the truth of it. You lately failed to restrain your fellow "deans" listed herein from abusing their offices to single out a current student for public censure. Perhaps worst of all, you have failed to protect students from Fr. Orsi's public tirades or his private bullying/intimidation/spiritual coercion sessions. I personally made you aware of some specific incidents last year (and understand that others have done the same over the past two years), but you expressed your helplessness to deal with them - or him. Most of us have wanted to believe that you are a fundamentally decent person trapped in a difficult situation, but your job is to protect students, and in that endeavor you have failed abysmally.

Dean Roboski: You have only been at AMSL for a short time, and your position necessitates that you imagine the law school to offer an atmosphere conducive to legal education as well as a warm community environment. Sadly, you never had occasion to see AMSL when this was still accurate. In light of this, it may be unfair to say that you are misleading prospective students; however, you can no longer remain nescient of reality while objectively immoral deeds are perpetrated against others around you. You are dean, but you are also supposed to be a man: Open your eyes and act like one.

Dean Zyskowski: I have always hoped that you too have been completely ignorant of the wretched doings of this administration (meaning that you know about as much about what's going on at AMSL as Michael Novak). In particular, I wonder if you have any knowledge of the Dean's various efforts to preclude those alumni who have dared to speak out from acquiring or maintaining employment. I don't expect that you will dare ask the Dean whether he has ever done this, but if you do, also have the courage to believe what your instincts tell you about to the veracity of his response.

Dean Keesler: Until last week, no one knew what it is that you do for the Dean. Now we do: Publicly excoriating students. Dean Dobranski might well declare you Ambassador to the United Nations or Attorney General for Wales - it would be as tenuously moored to reality. That you have been to date unwilling to disclose the nature of your work is further evidence of the pathetic farce that characterizes AMSL's governance. The positions the Dean created for you (and others) has become, quite literally, a joke. If his tenure lasts long enough, AMSL will no doubt have a Dean of IT, a Dean of Maintenance, and a Dean of Toilet Attendants - anyone who will do his dirty work. To express disappointment in you would be to tacitly acknowledge expectations: For you, there were none. So don't take yourself too seriously; no one else does.

Dean Milhizer: If the Associate Dean (that's you) is unaware of why the letter to Damon Garcia was unacceptable on its face, then there's little that may be usefully said. You can't be blamed for transforming AMSL into the Orwellian nightmare that it is, but you might unbury your head.

The administration's treatment of dissenting board members, faculty, staff, alumni and students in recent years might best be summed up in a single word: Disgusting. In particular, a specific accusation against Professor Stephen Safranek - an alleged tap on the arm, which Dean Dobranski luridly implied to have been sexual in nature - is unspeakably revolting. Each of you is now linked inextricably to the shameful pattern of conduct of the administration you so readily serve. At the very least, dispense with any pretense to a claim to the moral high ground: The administration surrendered that long ago.

Last year on the SBA, I had occasion to work with Damon Garcia, then serving as a 2L Senator. He was always thoughtful and respectful of others, deliberate in his votes, and never rash. We probably disagreed more than we agreed (he was reluctant to find any fault with the administration then), but our relationship remained professional and courteous. This year, the SBA appears to be very amenable (to put it mildly) to the will of the administration, and the best interests of the students have been traded for promises made to certain quislings behind closed doors. At least one Senator has even acted as an informer to the administration on his fellow students, thereby revealing his own lack of integrity and character. (We all know who he is, but I'll spare him the humiliation here.) This is the nature of the current student leadership: The first SBA ever to become, in effect, an arm of the administration. Nevertheless, students like Damon, who have the courage to speak out in good conscience, should not be bullied by useful idiots or their disgraceful letters. One exceptionally baffling excerpt from your communique was this:

We have been encouraged by the many examples of community building and healing so far this year. We hope that the past can now be finally put in the past and we can all join together to move forward in a productive manner.

You might try to understand that the consciences of some do not permit them to simply put the administration's ongoing and egregious abuses into "the past," however morally or professionally convenient this might be for the five of you. It's time for each of you to remember whom it is that you do serve: Not the Dean; not the Chairman or his investments; not your own fear-based self-interest. You serve the students. Remember it quickly, or have the decency to find another line of work - preferably one that will not besmirch the value of such honorary designations as "dean." Shame on the lot of you.


Andrew Doran
Class of 2007

Cc: Past SBA Presidents; SBA Executive Board; Alumni Board; Hulett Askew; Daniel Freehling; Edward Butterfoss.