Volume 93, Issue 27

Tuesday, October 19, 1999


Law school sued for discrimination

Senate prefers to refer decision

CFS and OUSA debate over status

Star deal challenged by papers across country

Newfoundland abolishes New Year's Eve last call

Singing Blues after thefts


Bass Ackwards

Caught on Campus

Law school sued for discrimination

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

Law school applicants may not have to worry about taking the Law School Admission Test, if a Toronto man suing Ontario law schools has his way in court.

Selwyn Pieters, a 32 year-old University of Toronto graduate who was rejected by U of T's law school in 1997, is seeking a court injunction against all of Ontario's law schools, on the basis the LSAT systematically discriminates against blacks.

Pieters, who is African-Canadian, said if the injunction filed last Wednesday is successful, it would prevent law schools from using the LSAT as an entrance requirement. "I filed for the injunction because I felt there's a serious problem with the admissions process," he said, adding the case is set to go before the courts Nov. 5.

"The LSAT tells you nothing about how a person's going to perform in law school, nor does it tell you anything about the ability of the person," he said.

Before filing for the injunction, Pieters said he registered a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission in May of 1998, right after he was rejected from U of T's law school. He explained he hoped the injunction would take effect until the OHRC rules on the matter.

While still waiting to hear the status of the OHRC complaint, U of T's law school plans to oppose the injunction, said Bonnie Croll, assistant dean of the school. "We certainly have provided a full response but it's all before the courts," she said, adding until the OHRC makes a decision, there was nothing she could do.

Francois Larsen, spokesperson for the OHRC, said the complaint is still under review.

Meanwhile, Ed Haggerty, media relations officer for the Law School Admission Council in Newtown, Pennsylvania, said LSAC has never been sued on the grounds of racial bias. He added the council, which formulates the tests for all of North America, made proactive attempts to ensure the standardized test was watertight against questions surrounding racial discrimination.

"We go through an awful lot of effort to make sure the test is fair and though we acknowledge differing performance amongst various ethnic groups, that doesn't indicate that there is a bias towards different ethnic groups," he said. "If there's a specific question an ethnic group does worse on statistically, that demonstrates the question is biased in the way of structure – that item will be thrown out."

Robert Solomon, associate dean at Western's law school, said he felt only people from a fundamentally different culture, or whose first language is one other than English, may claim the LSAT is biased. "These tests purport to measure skills predictive of success in law school. They're not meant to predict whether one will become a good lawyer or a bad lawyer," he said.

Pieters, however, said the effectiveness of these tests must be proven. "The balance of proof is in [the law schools'] hands. They have to prove the LSAT is a bonafide means of assessing students' abilities."

To Contact The News Department:

Copyright The Gazette 1999