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Law students slam new dean, former GOP Sen. Scott Brown, over bigoted record

New England Law Boston announced Friday that Trump’s Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown will be its new dean starting next December.

By Josh Israel - November 12, 2019
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Scott Brown
In this Nov. 21, 2016 file photo, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown talks with media at Trump Tower in New York. President Donald Trump has announced plans to nominate Brown to be the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

During his long tenure in the Massachusetts legislature and his short tenure in the United States Senate, Republican Scott Brown was a reliable opponent of legislation to protect equal pay for women, the freedom to marry, and protections for undocumented kids.

On Friday, a law school originally founded to empower women announced him as its new dean, to the chagrin of many in its student body.

Brown, currently Donald Trump’s ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, has been selected to become president and dean of New England Law Boston after he finishes his diplomatic appointment in December 2020. The private institution was founded in 1908 as a law school exclusively for women, primarily serving students from working-class and immigrant families, but now sells itself as a diverse program open to all genders.

Given that history, Brown seems an odd choice. As a state lawmaker and during his three years as a U.S. senator, Brown was one of the leading opponents of LGBTQ equality and a vocal supporter of overturning marriage equality in Massachusetts and in the District of Columbia. He attacked same-sex families as “not normal” and was the only member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation in 2011 who refused to appear in an “It Gets Better” anti-suicide message for LGBTQ youths.

Brown voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act (a bill to ensure equal pay for women) and backed a measure to let employers opt-out of covering birth control — later saying that these are not “issues that people care about.”

He opposed the DREAM Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented young people brought to the country as children, calling it “back door amnesty.”

Brown endorsed Trump in early 2016 and has stood by him despite Trump’s racist and sexist behavior.

Brown himself was admonished by the State Department for making sexist comments about female attendees at a party in the Samoan capital of Apia 2017. According to the Guardian, Brown called the women “beautiful” and said they could “make hundreds of dollars working in the hospitality industry in the US.”

Politico reported at the time that Brown admitted to making the comments and clarified that he had “‘absolutely told people they could make great waitresses,’ which he said he would also tell his two adult daughters.”

Upon learning that Scott Brown would be taking over their institution next year, many current and former students were outraged. Some circulated an open letter to the board of trustees, arguing that “Ambassador Brown’s values are opposed to those of New England Law | Boston and its student body.”

“The policies promulgated under this administration are largely focused on targeting minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, and the most vulnerable amongst us — the very students New England Law Boston should be upholding as a model of tomorrow’s legal community,” the letter stated, urging the board to reverse the decision.

The organizer of that petition, current New England Law student Dylan Lang, said Tuesday morning that more than 200 students and alums had signed on to the letter already. He noted that he chose the school, in part, because of its diverse community.

“New England Law is often the underdog in the Boston legal community because we are surrounded by so many other competitive law schools,” he explained in a text message Monday night. “Because of this, New England students truly care about each other. We look out for each other, support each other, respect and embrace each other’s difference, and build each other up rather than tear each other down.”

He added, “With Ambassador Brown’s continued racist, sexist, and homophobic actions, behaviors, and political stances, he has made clear that he has no respect for our community and he is not welcome here.”

One LGBTQ student, who asked not to be named, said in an email that they were disappointed with the decision to hire Brown. “While in office and in the public eye, [Brown] has shown principles and ideas conflicting with what we believe New England [Law] to be,” they said.

Amanda Gnau, a third-year student and president of the school’s Women’s Law Caucus, said in an email that Brown’s selection is “completely devastating, appalling, and infuriating.” Noting the school’s history of “feminism and gender equality” and Brown’s record opposing women, LGBTQ people, and immigrants, she wrote that “he does not ‘fully embrace the mission of New England Law Boston’ as the administration has stated he does.”

“His conduct and statements are egregiously discriminatory against many classes of people and does not reflect the morals and values of the students at New England Law Boston in any capacity,” Gnau wrote. “Scott Brown goes against the basic principles that our school was founded on: supporting strong and intelligent women and creating a safe place where women can thrive upon entering the legal profession.”

Brown did not respond to a request for comment about whether his positions on equal pay, LGBTQ equality, or immigration have changed. A spokesperson for New England Law Boston did not respond to questions about whether they had received any assurances from Brown that he had changed his stance on those issues, but told the Boston Globe that “at some point” the administration would “provide a community forum” to discuss the decision.

Brown told the Boston Globe in an interview last week that he was excited about the new post and the school’s “very diverse student body, good endowment, good placement within the Boston area.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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