Posted on December 4, 2023

Penn Law Students Protest Outside White Nationalist’s Guest Lecture at Class Taught by Amy Wax

Lara Cota and Nicole Muravsky, Daily Pennsylvanian, December 1, 2023

Around 80 University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students protested outside of Professor Amy Wax’s classroom on Nov. 28, opposing her invitation of white nationalist Jared Taylor as a guest speaker.

The students engaged in a protest in the Penn Carey Law courtyard outside of the classroom hosting Taylor. The protest contained mostly law students unaffiliated with any specific affinity group, with some Black Law Students Association and Penn Law National Lawyers Guild members present. Taylor’s appearance prompted a school-wide email from Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law of Penn Carey Law Sophia Lee on Nov. 21, in what appeared to be Lee’s first public comments on Wax as dean.

“Campuses across the country are grappling with the bounds of academic freedom,” Lee wrote in the email, which was obtained by The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Many have raised similar questions at Penn Carey Law because Professor Amy Wax has invited Jared Taylor to speak to her class.”

Taylor — editor of American Renaissance, a publication that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a promoter of eugenics and pseudoscience — spoke on Nov. 28 at Wax’s class of LAW 9560: “Conservative and Political Legal Thought” as scheduled on a course syllabus obtained by the DP in September. This was at least Taylor’s second visit to campus.

Members of BLSA distributed flyers about Wax and Taylor and asked students to wear red in solidarity before moving their location to stand in front of the classroom. Once the protest started, Penn Law National Lawyers Guild and the BLSA both announced the protest on their respective Instagram accounts.

Second-year Penn Carey Law student and BLSA Advocacy Co-Chair Virginia Richards told the DP that Wax began recording the student protestors while Taylor made condescending remarks when they saw the protest.


Taylor’s return to Penn’s campus marks approximately 23 months since the sanctions process against Amy Wax began. The University has alleged that Wax’s actions, including but not limited to inviting Taylor to the class, violate Penn’s behavioral standards.


Lee sent a letter to the law community on Nov. 21, stating that while student groups and faculty may develop programming that is “responsive to current events,” Penn’s open expression guidelines do not permit protestors to “disrupt or shut down” a speaker nor permit demonstrations in rooms where classes are being held.


First-year Penn Carey Law student and member of Penn Law Lambda Maya Gomberg told the DP that she was frustrated with Lee’s statement and criticized Penn Carey Law’s handling of what is considered “hate speech,” while Penn Carey Law Council of Student Representatives President Vinila Varghese said that Taylor’s “derogatory, unfounded, and unacademic” views have no place in an academic discussion.