Updated: OUTLaw Calls for Community Meeting in Open Letter to Law School

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad

Update: The Student Bar Association (SBA)  has released a statement through its president, Taaj Reeves. The SBA is asking law students to attend the university-wide Safe Zone from 9:45am-1pm in the LGBTQ Student Center in Room 602 of the Kimmel Center. Students that would like to attend are asked to RSVP here. The SBA statement is reproduced below, in full.

Commitment to Diversity at NYU Law

NYU Law:

As you may know, two weeks ago SBA and OUTLaw co-sponsored a Bar Review at Vodka Soda/Bottoms Up. At this otherwise successful event, it was alleged that a member of the NYU Law community began shouting homophobic slurs while standing outside the venue. While these allegations have yet to be corroborated, we want to acknowledge the harm afflicting our community by way of the school’s silence around this issue. 

We write to affirm our communities’ values — we do not support nor tolerate homophobia, transphobia or other forms of intolerance at NYU Law. As demonstrated by our partnerships with OUTLaw and additional affinity groups throughout the year, we are committed to supporting diversity at our law school and beyond. 

As a reflection of our commitment, we invite you to join members of the SBA and OUTLaw community at tomorrow’s university-wide Safe Zone from 9:45am-1pm in the LGBTQ Student Center at the Kimmel Center, Room 602. Please RSVP here to attend.

always faithful,
Taaj Reaves
SBA President

Hell’s Kitchen, NYC – Following an incident at Bar Review on Thursday, February 18th, OUTLaw has called for a community meeting open to all members of the Law School. According to an open letter signed by the OUTLaw Board, “At the end of [Bar Review], several NYU Law students were asked to leave the bar for inappropriate behavior; once outside, at least one began shouting ‘faggots’ and ‘homos’ from across the street toward the bar.” The offending students were apparently asked to leave the area. The police were called shortly afterwards.

It is unclear from OUTLaw’s letter what the identity is of the offending person or what precipitated the incident at Vodka Soda/Bottoms Up Bar. It is also unclear who from OUTLaw may have witnessed the events in question. The Commentator has reached out to leaders of OUTLaw and the Student Bar Association, which co-sponsored the event, for further comment. This article will be updated if and when such comments are provided.

The open letter from OUTLaw is reproduced, in full, below. If you have any information about this incident and would like to share, please email us at lawcommentator@gmail.com.

Update: OUTLaw has declined to comment publicly. The Student Bar Association has not yet responded to a request for comment.

A Message from NYU OUTLaw

Dear NYU Law,

We are writing to share with you an unfortunate incident that took place on Thursday evening. As you may know, a well-attended joint SBA-OUTLaw Bar Review took place at the gay bar Vodka Soda/Bottoms Up. At the end of the night, several NYU Law students were asked to leave the bar for inappropriate behavior; once outside, at least one began shouting “faggots” and “homos” from across the street toward the bar. The bar owner apparently kicked the remaining NYU Law students out of the bar and called the police.

Nearly all of us have been called those words before. For some in our community, those and other anti-gay slurs kept us in the closet — or still do. The attitudes they embody make it harder for someone questioning their sexuality or gender identity to feel safe, welcome, and comfortable here.

We believe this incident offers us the opportunity for meaningful and constructive dialogue about continued homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of intolerance at NYU Law, despite the genuine progress the law school community has made on these issues. Although we have informed the administration about this incident, we are also calling on our members and allies to take further action with us. 

To discuss this incident and the actions we can take as a community, please come to our next OUTLaw meeting on Monday, Feb. 29, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in VH 210. Our strength is in our community.  

The OUTLaw Board

P.S. If you witnessed this or any other incidents, or have any other concerns or feelings you’d like to communicate, please reach out to us and share your story — we are here for you at any time. Email our co-chairs Eliza Vasconcellos & Russell Silver-Fagan at nyu.outlaw@nyu.edu.

Editor’s Note: The author is a class representative on the Student Bar Association, but has no role in the administration of Bar Review and was not present at the event.

BALSA Honors Brooklyn DA, NYC Corporation Counsel, and Law Professor at Fourth Annual Black History Month Gala

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad | Photography by Ajani B. Husbands

Greenwich Village, NYC – Over 200 guests descended on the Rosenthal Pavilion, at New York University’s Kimmel Center, for the Fourth Annual Black History Month Gala. Sponsored by the Black Allied Law Students Association of NYU Law – the first such chapter of its kind in the country – the Gala drew esteemed guests and honorees from all across New York City’s legal community.

This year’s theme was Keep the Fire Burning: Promoting Social Justice Through the Black Lives Matter Movement. Honorees included Paulette Caldwell, Professor of Law at New York University School of Law; Zachary Carter ’75, New York City Corporation Counsel; and Kenneth Thompson ’92, Kings County District Attorney.

For more of Ajani B. Husbands’ photos of the Black History Month Gala, click here.

Editor’s Note: Naeem Crawford-Muhammad also chaired the Balsa Fourth Annual Black History Month Gala Committee.

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A Timely New Look in Vanderbilt Hall

by Sarah Higgins

There are new digital clocks in Vanderbilt Hall, which are a noticeable change to the Law School’s oldest facility. During winter recess, New York University School of Law building operators installed twenty two digital clocks throughout the building. Why? According to Professor Barry Adler, Associate Dean for Information Systems and Technology, the main reason for the digital update was to synchronize time in the building.

Many students have back-to-back classes, with only 10 minutes to move from one class to the next. Said Adler, “If the clocks in each classroom are off, even if only by two or three minutes, if they are off in opposite directions, ten minutes between classes can become, effectively, four minutes, not enough time.” The new digital clocks in Vanderbilt are a purported solution to this problem, as they can be synced more easily.

The Law School spent some $10,000 on the project, which took about two weeks to complete, according to Lillian Zalta, Assistant Dean of Operations, Housing, and Administrative Services. This is the latest attempt to synchronize time throughout Vanderbilt Hall. In the past, the analog clocks that formerly sat sentry in each classroom and hallway were battery operated. It would become problematic when the clocks lagged behind or stopped working altogether. This led to complaints from professors, since building operators were unable to maintain the pace of repairs for the old, analog system.

In a first attempt to solve the problem, the Law School IT Department connected the analog clocks to the building’s Power over Ethernet (PoE) system. As Building Manager Montey Thames explained, “The clocks receive their time input from our internet insuring that all clocks present the same time.” When the building used analog clocks, “they had to convert the data signal to mechanical movement.” As the clocks aged, the internal mechanisms began to wear, causing some clocks to experience a lag. Said, Zalta, the PoE-backed clocks “were reasonable, and they worked for a few years, but they started failing.”

Because the new digital clocks do not have moving parts, the IT department is hopeful that synchronization and maintenance will become easier. Aesthetics were also a concern, and building management worked with IT in an attempt to choose clocks that best fit the olden look of Vanderbilt and that didn’t make the space seem to techie.

The clocks have been met with mostly positive reviews from students. Second-year law student Sarah Hsu says, “I really like them. I like that they’re at the front of the class and digital so, I can sneakily look at them.”

Kushner Lounge is the only place in the Law School next scheduled to receive these new clocks. Thames says that building management “will continue to look for ways to improve quality of life for all professors, staff, and students,” and the IT department is working on installing a POE connection in the lounge to add a digital clock.

The clocks in Furman Hall do not run on PoE. Instead, they are synced via a centralized time controller, and received direct line power from the building. So, as of now, there are no plans to bring digital clocks into Furman Hall.

Introducing Our Paper

by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

Welcome to The Commentator, NYU Law’s official student newspaper. We chronicle all things related to New York University School of Law and its students, faculty, and administration. The Commentator presents its content in three sections: News, Opinion, and Lifestyle.

The News section will keep you up-to-date with the latest happenings at the Law School. Opinion will feature students lending their voices to the pressing issues of the day. And in the Lifestyle section, students are invited to share their creative energies with the world.

The first version of The Commentator was a student-run, print publication at NYU Law. Renowned for its wit and biting edge, it was distributed biweekly in a black-and-white, tabloid format. Our new incarnation of The Commentator will be online-only. This allows us greater flexibility in getting news and information to our audience faster. It will also allow us to experiment with and better incorporate photography, video, and social media.

If you’re interested in writing for us or would like to share your thoughts or feedback, contact us.

We hope you enjoy our company. Visit often and stay awhile.