By Monica Alonzo
By Ray Stern
By New Times Staff
By Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Robrt L. Pela
And misgivings about treatment of women at ASU law school extend beyond one inebriated professor.
Donna Hamilton, who graduated from the College of Law in May, recalls that during her first year, administrators held a luncheon to discuss women's experiences in law school. Associate dean Hannah Arterian and assistant dean Chris Smith met with about 15 female students, Hamilton says.
She recalls, "I walked away from that kind of dissatisfied, because I thought the things that the students brought up in the meeting as being their concerns [were] pooh-poohed by Dean Arterian and Dean Smith."
For example, Hamilton says, she raised a common complaint of female law students: that male professors call on male students most often. That was Hamilton's experience, and she shared it.
"Even if only one person had her hand up, and it was a woman, the professor seemed to look around and wait for someone else, and usually it was a man and they would call on the man," she says. "And I found that frustrating as hell, 'cause if I had a question, I wanted that question answered!"
Hamilton also says she told the administrators that she was offended by one male professor's lecture, because he encouraged a discussion about sex. She says she was told, "Well, you need to be a little thicker-skinned."
Hamilton's complaint isn't as trivial as it seems. The American Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession released a report titled Elusive Equality: The Experiences of Women in Legal Education in January. The report concludes: "The hope that gender bias would have disappeared with the increasing number of women faculty and students was not realized. Today, many women still experience debilitating instances of gender bias and discrimination in law schools."
The discrimination, according to the commission, is sometimes blatant, but more often it's more subtle, similar to Hamilton's experience: Male students frequently interrupt a female professor; teaching materials portray women in stereotypical ways; male professors call female students "little girl" or "sweetie"; male students laugh at their female classmates' comments in class.
Another female ASU law student who attended the trolley party says she believes some professors--in an attempt to avoid accusations of sexual harassment--actually ignore women students.
"You see it all the time in the workplace, so it doesn't really surprise me," the student says, "but it is kind of a bummer for women in that you can't get that close with a male professor and spend time with them, 'cause who knows what people will think? . . . Rumors fly like crazy in law school."
Brita Long will enter her third year at ASU law school this fall. She calls Michael Berch a "brilliant, brilliant man," but, no, she didn't register for one of his classes.
"I just have no respect for him as a person," she says. "I don't care how brilliant he is. Maybe that's really shortsighted thinking on my part."
Jane, however, has registered for Federal Courts. She's heard Berch does a fabulous job teaching it. Besides, he's the only professor offering the course.
That bothers some students who believe alternates should be offered for the courses Berch is teaching. Those students are upset that the matter of Berch's suspension was never discussed publicly.
One male student who was at the trolley party says, "I'm not really willing to personally condemn someone for something they did for all eternity. My basic problem with the whole situation is that there never was a dialogue established where there was any sort of recognition of what went on. . . . Students weren't asked, 'Well, would it be more appropriate if there were an alternative section to this class?'"
Brita Long doesn't want to take a class from Berch, but she's not afraid of him. She says, "I've seen him on campus and he looks really sad. He looks like a little boy that got caught.
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