Mike Adams

From: Mike Adams
Sent: Thu 2/26/09 4:37 PM
To: Shannon K. Jones

Good afternoon, Shannon. I received your request for a letter of recommendation to UNC School of Law. I also received your resume, your transcripts, and your LSAT results. Based upon what I read I have written you two letters of recommendation. The first letter is for North Carolina Central School of Law, which I believe would be a better choice given that your grades and test scores are good but less than stellar. The full text of the letter follows:

To Whom It May Concern:

As a professor at UNC-Wilmington, I have had the pleasure of knowing Shannon Jones for the last four years. She has been a good student and an asset to our program. I would like to take this opportunity to recommend Shannon to N.C. Central School of Law.

I feel confident that Shannon will continue to do well in her studies. She is a dedicated student and thus far her grades have been strong. She has a 3.1 overall GPA. In class, she has proven to be a leader who is able to successfully develop ideas and presentations and to implement them.

Shannon has also assisted us in our main office. She has successfully demonstrated leadership ability by speaking with prospective students. Her advice has been a great help to students, some of whom have taken time to share their comments with me. Many noted her pleasant and encouraging attitude.

It is for these reasons that I offer recommendations for Shannon without reservation. Her drive and abilities will truly be an asset to your law school. If you have any questions regarding this recommendation, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Mike Adams
Associate Professor
UNC-Wilmington

As you can see, I wrote this letter without any reference to your status as a black female. Instead, I relied on your legitimate qualifications as a potential law student. But I also wrote a second letter based upon the sliding scale that is used for minorities (especially double minorities) in the law school admissions process. The full text of the second letter follows:

To Whom It May Concern:

As a professor at UNC-Wilmington, I have had the pleasure of knowing Shannon Jones for the last four years. She has been a good student and an asset to our program. I would like to take this opportunity to offer a minority recommendation for Shannon’s consideration by the admissions committee at UNC School of Law.

I feel confident that Shannon would do better in her studies were she to attend another law school. However, I am confident that Shannon will be given special consideration at UNC School of Law. Even if she lands near the bottom of the class, she will be guaranteed a good summer job by the progressives working in the placement office. She is a dedicated student and thus far her grades have been strong - although they are about half a grade point below the average expected of white male applicants. Her LSAT score of 156 is also well below that expected of white males. But her status as a black female should more than make up the difference.

Shannon has also assisted us in our main office. She has successfully demonstrated leadership ability by speaking with prospective students. Her advice has been a great help to students, some of whom have taken time to share their comments with me. Many noted her pleasant and encouraging attitude. This will undoubtedly help her to console other struggling minority students many of whom suffer greatly from the double standard operating at the law school.

It is for these reasons that I offer recommendations for Shannon without any reservations aside from the fact that she is not actually qualified, which I understand to be irrelevant in this case. Her demographic characteristics will truly be an asset to your law school’s mission as you have defined it. If you have any questions regarding this recommendation, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Mike Adams Associate Professor UNC-Wilmington

As you may have guessed, Shannon, I only intend to send one of these letters of recommendation. The one you choose will reveal whether you wish to be judged by the content of your character or the color of your skin. It will also say a lot about your character.


Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.