Conservative Law Society Deactivates as LSSO After Backlash to “Whip Sheet”

This closes one source of funding, but Burke is also an RSO and it may receive money from other sources, like alumni donations.

By Pete Grieve, Editor-in-Chief ('18–'19)

The Edmund Burke Society notified the Law School administration that it will deactivate as a Law School Student Organization (LSSO) and return its funding to the Law Students Association (LSA). 

The move toward deactivation follows backlash to a controversial whip sheet that said immigrants bring “disease” into the body politic.  

The Law School’s Associate Dean for Communications Marsha Nagorsky said Burke notified the Law administration of its intent to deactivate as an LSSO. LSA President Sean Planchard said he was notified by President of Burke Bijan Aboutorabi that Burke would return funds to LSA and deactivate. Chairman of the Burke Society Eric Wessan said that the society declines to comment.  

The Burke society is also a Registered Student Organization, which means that it can receive funding from a larger, University-wide pool. Burke may also receive funding from other sources, such as alumni donations.  

Wessan has apologized for the incident, and Planchard said in an interview this weekend that he was expecting further amends from the Burke Society, but at the time he was unable to comment further on what the Society was doing. In the interview, Planchard explained that the Burke Society received $300 earlier this year from LSA, with another $300 allocated for them in LSA’s winter quarter supplemental funding round, contingent on compliance with the alcohol policy.  

Planchard had written in a letter to the Law School administration that if the school failed to act, he would submit a resolution to the LSA Board to defund and deactivate the Burke Society “based on its repeated and documented misconduct.” But the Law School and University administrators pointed to the school’s freedom of expression principles and declared that LSA cannot defund or deactivate a student group for the “content” of its speech. 

Planchard’s letter was clear that defunding and deactivating would be largely symbolic. 

“In practical terms, even if LSA claws back the $600 allocated to the Edmund Burke Society and formally deactivates it, these moves will be largely symbolic,” it read. “But symbols, like language, are important.”