“I refuse to give academics more importance than being a human being responding to other human beings in need”

Cook School of Business, Saint Louis University, where I read (with several SLU undergrads) from Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine for the Social Justice and Advocacy Series; Friday afternoon 30 October 2015

2015-10-30 14.28.06


When Grades Are Less than Everything

Tanya made a decision the second week of her first semester in law school:
After being an A student since the age of six
She decided that it wasn’t necessary to get honors

Sure she was smart
But that decision freed up several hours a week
She could do other things than be locked in the law library

Such things as researching and writing articles
Facilitating discussions at the law school
About what was happening in Palestine and Iraq

Such things as participating in local demonstrations
Being support for friends sitting in at Congressional offices
And making plans to join the one of the humanitarian aid missions to Gaza over the winter break

Somehow word of this last “project” got back
To her law school mentor
Who emailed Tanya to have a meeting

He said to her: “You have so much potential
Especially given your LSAT score”
(It was a 175)

“But you are spending way too much time on these other activities
Which, frankly, are distractions
From what you are supposed to be doing”

With her gaze steady at the professor/advisor/lawyer
She asked, “Do you know what the conditions are in Gaza?
Do you know about the daily abuse of human rights in the West Bank?

Do you have any idea of how people can survive
In such ghettos, ignored by the outside world
Due to policies of the US and Israel?”

The professor was about to interrupt her
But she slowly held up her right hand
To stop/silence him and went on

“The work on behalf of the Palestinians
–Who are bombed, battered,
Defamed and terrorized–

Is one example
Of what people at this school
Should be focused on

I refuse to give academics more importance
Than being a human being
Responding to other human beings in need”

And with that
Tanya stood up
And the meeting was over

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