Undignified Marketing Alert: Northeastern University School of Law

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NortheasternThe image at left is taken from the Northeastern University School of Law publicity that landed today in my faculty mailbox.   The text in the tan box in the upper left corner reads, “Faculty and students advocate together for those too-often underrepresented in the justice system.”  

That’s a nice message.

A woman sitting on the floor gazing upwards adoringly at a professor is not a nice message.  

It is as if the school is saying, “At  Northeastern, our professors tower over all others.   Here, women sit on the floor and beam at their older male professors.   We like that image so much we wanted to share it with the world.   It represents a typical interaction at our school.”

Who suggested this shot?   Why did the faculty member agree to it?   Why didn’t the students object?   Why didn’t the Marketing/Communications staff reject it?   Hey, Northeastern, you can do better.

-Bridget Crawford

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5 Responses to Undignified Marketing Alert: Northeastern University School of Law

  1. draconismoi says:

    As recent alum of NSLAW, color me utterly unsurprised.

    To be fair to the students, they probably didn’t even know about the shot – much less it’s intended purpose.

    During student orientation a form providing blanket permission to photography you and use said photos any way the school wants is snuck in the middle of all the paperwork. When you refuse to sign it they attempt to freeze your registration. If I recall correctly they told me that there are random cameras all over the place and it would be so hard for the school to weed out pictures that included obstinate students like myself. So we should just do our part. They were more insistent about this with the minority students than any others.

    Photographers would randomly pop up and snap pictures without discussing anything with anyone. I never was able to ensure they didn’t use my picture on promotional materials (like this one) because they are not posted or distributed anywhere for students.

    As for the professor…..I recognize him. And your interpretation of the intent is probably something he would fully support.

  2. Libby Adler says:

    I cannot permit Bridget Crawford’s blog posting to go without a response. It’s hard to know whether to begin with Professor Crawford’s reflexive and uncritical version of feminism, according to which a woman sitting on the floor must be read as a gesture of submission rather than as a signal of comfort in a casual environment or with her willingness to unjustly malign a long time poverty lawyer and beloved clinical instructor who spends his days assisting poor women to obtain an income stream. Contrary to Professor Crawford’s assumptions, this was a candid photo (no one instructed the student to drop to her knees), in which our director of clinics stopped to consult with hard working law students learning how to assist people in poverty. Moreover, inclusion of the photo in the brochure was approved by a faculty member serving in a quasi-administrative capacity. This particular member of our faculty is the former vice president of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. She teaches courses on women and the law and has dedicated her professional life to the pressing needs of women in the domains of poverty and human rights. Perhaps she did not see the photo the same way that Professor Crawford’s suspicious eye saw it because she was too busy frying bigger fish.

  3. Ann Bartow says:

    Wow, Libby, your comment is loaded with many personal attacks and straw women arguments. Professor Bridget Crawford does not have a “reflexive and uncritical version of feminism” and to assert that she does is both stupid and mean. She had a negative reaction to an advertisement, which she explained. The fact that “a member of our faculty [who] is the former vice president of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund” approved the photo’s use in promotional materials doesn’t address the merits of her critique, and proves nothing. It sure does sound the clarion call of hyper defensiveness, though.

    The pettiness charge you make – “Perhaps she did not see the photo the same way that Professor Crawford’s suspicious eye saw it because she was too busy frying bigger fish” – suggests that Bridget is “suspicious” without basis. Your implication – that because Bridget Crawford wrote about an issue you consider trivial in a blog post, she therefore doesn’t spend time on”real problems”– is ridiculous. It’s not an either-or choice. She posts a lot of different things on this blog, as you can see for yourself, and at others blogs, and she has a feminist offline life as well.

    If you think the analysis of the ad is wrong, disagreement on the merits would have been perfectly fine. Personal attacks, however, are not.

  4. Ann Bartow says:

    I’d also add that if the first commenter is correct, and Northeastern students are required to “agree” under penalty of not being able to enroll (i.e. coerced consent) to have their pictures taken any time by anyone in the law school, and used in any way the law school wants, y’all have bigger problems than that one ad. And if the students of color are especially targeted and plagued by this, double shame on “a member of our faculty [who] is the former vice president of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund”and anyone else who is responsible for developing and enforcing this policy.

  5. Paul says:

    Libby, thank you. I see three students in an area with only two chairs, and so one isn’t sitting in a chair, and then our prof comes by to say “hi” and otherwise encourage the students. Change the gender of the three and of the one and it’s still the same picture. Of course, if your fundamental axiom is that all male humans are evil, then you see the picture the way the author does. The cruel irony is that if the genders were reversed we’d hear not a word. To end with the continuation of my vision of the picture, every time the ABA does one of those surveys and asks, if you had it to do over again, would you still become a lawyer? Every single time, more than half of the respondents say, no, if we had a do over, we’d do something else instead. So, odds are good that 1 of 3 will some day be wishing she’d never become an attorney. Odds are decent that 2 of the 3 feel that way. Of course, what with the blinders on and all, we’re stuck with the paternalistic rant and not, wait, have you humans considered the ABA surveys with accompanying responses, and have you considered that maybe that is so because litigation is never about justice and always about winning? Those of us with living souls then live in a world of cognitive dissonance, which is none too pleasing. But you can with stick with the paternalistic rant if you like.

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