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    08.18.17 Dean Nick Allard Discusses Charlottesville and Other Lessons for the New School Year
    The summer has flown by. We are ready and eager to begin the new fall semester. We are already welcoming the arrival of what promises to be another marvelously diverse, accomplished, and promising new class of J.D. students from across the United States and abroad as well as international L.L.M. students from five continents. They are returning to school, some after longer absences than others, to begin studying the American system of law. Joining our new arrivals to resume their legal studies are our two-year accelerated J.D. students and our upper class students, in both our three-year and four-year programs. They will be taught by our exceptional faculty which is strengthened and renewed by several new outstanding additions, and by the recent achievement of tenure status by legal historian and author Chris Beauchamp and our incomparable law librarian Janet Sinder.  

    We all will benefit from sparklingly beautiful new space for learning, working, and student services at 111 Livingston Street, and also the major, inviting modernization of major parts of the library. Perhaps less apparent is the massive repair and structural improvement of outdated existing space in our main 250 Joralemon Street building. All of this work, including moving out of the old One Boerum building, was completed on schedule over the summer months. When you find time, share your comments and, if the opportunity arises, please thank the senior administrators, our entire facilities staff and our trustees for making this wonderful fresh start possible.  

    We are committed as always at our great school to provide our students outstanding teaching and practical training, exposure to cutting-edge scholarship, sharp critical thinking skills, and the ethical compass and values which underpin the rule of law. Our goal is nothing less than offering a comprehensive, rigorous educational experience that will enable Brooklyn Law School alumni, as they have always done, to serve as leaders performing the necessary and honorable, private and public roles law graduates fulfill in our society. Ambitiously we strive to equip our graduates to solve future problems no one has seen before.

    We value diversity, inclusion, openness, academic freedom, the vigorous full exchange of ideas, and most fundamentally mutual respect. All of these things are essential to maintaining an environment where learning thrives, especially learning from each other. We are also vigilant about risk and determined to assure that our community of learning is safe, healthy and fosters the well-being of all of its members.

    Accordingly, we reject ideologies and behavior promoting divisiveness, hate, intolerance and harm to others. We will defend all in our community from threats, attacks and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, heritage, faith, gender, physical attributes and capabilities, cultural and economic background, sexual orientation and identity, and beliefs. This is our pledge to everyone in our community and to all those everywhere who we reach and impact.

    At this annual moment, when we renew our academic mission, we are overcome with news reports that remind us of how dangerous our world can be, and how cruelly corrosive hatred can be if we let it overcome our better selves. Most recently, over this past weekend we witnessed the horrific, venomous and violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia and the disturbing aftermath, and today we learn of yet another terrorist incident in Barcelona, Spain. Speaking personally, I am stunned and numbed by the vacuum of leadership in our government which continues to fail to step up and excoriate atrocious misconduct while fostering an environment encouraging it to grow. Politics should never be a guardian or facilitator of animosity and bigotry. This is precisely why it is critical for all of us to stand up for what is right, using all the tools provided by the constitution and our system of law.

    In Charlottesville, at Heather Heyer’s funeral, her mother said movingly that her murderers tried to silence her, “but guess what, you just magnified her.” What an amazing sentiment and one which should inspire us to amplify such voices of compassion, empathy and public service. Heather, age 32, was a paralegal at a Charlottesville, Virginia law firm. She had a strong interest in law, but finished formal education when she earned her high school degree. One of my fellow law deans wrote that she was known in the law firm as a “strong woman,” passionate, politically engaged, and “a champion for others.” Another friend, an enormously accomplished alumnae of our law school, a bi-racial daughter of a black father and Asian mother wrote: “To have my children relive what I lived through growing up is heartbreaking.” We can and we must together honor all these truly fine people and our children by relentlessly pursuing the ever elusive goal of equal justice for all and the universal enjoyment of basic human rights.

    I know that united in concern and purpose we all can come through the fires of hate tempered and bonded even closer to each other despite our differences and become stronger together. I believe that the members of our law school community will not surrender to evil or the temptation to justify the use of any means to fight back, and thereby become like those who seek to destroy our way of life. We have a rule book, called the Constitution, and we have legal process provided by our brilliantly engineered self-correcting system of limited government. If we pull together, we also have each other. That is more than enough. Look with pride at how Americans are rising up together since Charlottesville to say: “Enough!”

    This is a time to overwhelm hate with love, division with tolerance, and despair with hopeful confidence bred by knowledge of our collective virtues and our history of selfless sacrifice. I am thinking of those young soldiers of all races, creeds and gender, whose graves I visited in France this summer, those who bravely attacked the frighteningly defended beaches, cliffs, hedgerows and villages of Normandy during World War II, all done heroically and willingly in order to make our nation and the world a better place. We simply cannot now fail the memory of all those who have given so much throughout our history, including those soldiers who fought to defeat the horrors of the Nazis, or Heather Heyer, who protested the return of a pathetic, mutant strain of the original degenerates who have been dangerously invited out of the darkness where they stubbornly hide.

    It is a time to blind darkness with light, to comfort those who mourn, to embrace and protect those who fear, and to tirelessly stand with all those among us who are disparaged, disadvantaged, persecuted and attacked.

    This is all a critical aspect of our educational mission. After all, you have to be taught to hate. No one is born a bigot. Knowledge is the ultimate antidote to the poisonous inflammatory tenets of deeply flawed ideologies. Learning in law school how to maintain and strengthen a civil, democratic and just society is as important as it ever has been. I expect that given Brooklyn Law School’s tradition of openness, diversity, equality and service that we will be in the forefront of efforts to navigate through myriad complex legal issues, and collectively have a hand in demonstrating the power of law to make a positive difference for people and society at home and abroad.

    This coming year, I know that we will continue our tradition of having town halls and educational programs led by our faculty where our community can come together to discuss the issues of our time and learn from each other how to address them through law in action.

    Knowing how well the members of our community and our fellow Americans rise to challenges I am, even on days filled with sadness and concern, optimistic about the future.

    With thanks for the privilege of being part of our large extended great law school community,

    Nick Allard