Law students like myself who matriculated into Georgetown Law last August are crowding into libraries and cafes to write briefs and memorize outlined notes for final exams, finally ending our tumultuous first year, only to find out amid all our studying that Tiffany Trump will be walking our halls in the fall.
Tiffany will likely be quite comfortable at Georgetown, considering that most students who attend our law school look like her and were raised like her. In fact, she may find herself fitting in to this institution far better than those of us who are low-income students or people of color.
Tiffany Trump is famed on Instagram for chronicling her wealthy and ostentatious life as part of America's top 1 percent. Although statistics for Georgetown's law school are difficult to find, the New York Times did a study based on anonymous tax records on the economic segregation of colleges and found that Georgetown has more students from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the bottom 60 percent. About 74 percent of Georgetown students come from the top 20 percent, and less than 2 percent of students came from a poor family and became wealthy as an adult.
One can imagine that Georgetown's law school statistics are similar, and unless Georgetown Law starts taking steps toward widening its net to reach more low income students, most of Tiffany's classmates will look, act and live like her.
As a biracial, first-generation American raised below the poverty line, and as a woman of color, attending one of the wealthiest and largest private law institutions in the country has forced me and other classmates in my position to constantly remind our peers and professors that the laws were not created by us or for us. The law is fundamentally created and sustained to maintain the status quo, thus maintaining systems of inequality, exploitation, maldistribution and violence; and law classes are focused on memorizing obscure rules that normalize the belief that systems that disproportionately impact marginalized communities are neutral. We are taught to balance justice and fairness with money, efficiency and the appearance of unbiased precedent passed down from generations of wealthy, white men. In other words, the laws and the institutions that teach it are created and maintained by and for people like Donald Trump.
While Tiffany might not grasp exactly why the law feels like justice to her, or why it may not to some of her peers, she will still benefit from not having to carry the burden of educating her peers instead of taking notes, and from being taught by professors who look and sound like her.
The few students and organizations at Georgetown Law who have successfully pushed the school to think or act critically have largely done so by circumventing the administration after failed attempts to open a dialogue with the dean and other offices. Students from the Black Law Students Association had to have their open letter about problematic responses to Antonin Scalia's death published on multiple forums before conservatives and administrators at the school began to reflect on their own reactions. Students interested in free political speech on campus had to have congressional hearings held before Georgetown Law changed its policies on partisan political activity.
On its own, the school has not taken any meaningful steps toward being a more inclusive, courageous and just institution. And because of Tiffany Trump's presence, Georgetown Law will most likely continue to fail to stand up to any unlawful, unconstitutional or unjust actions her father takes in the future.
Welcome home, Tiffany.
Julia Mizutani is a Georgetown Law student; her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.