July 29, 2003

ERIC MULLER describes a faculty-advising dilemma.

I’ve been advisor to all sorts of groups, from BLSA and HLSA to the Campus Libertarians to the Sports and Entertainment Law Society. People do make assumptions from this — a friend at the White House during the Clinton Administration told me that my name came up in relation to an appointment because someone saw the BLSA advisor and Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team coach items on my resume and assumed I was black. When he informed them that I wasn’t, interest cooled. Presumably, some people might assume that I’m interested in sports, too, or that I’m hispanic.

I generally steer groups that I don’t like or agree with to faculty members who are more sympathetic, but I would advise any group that I didn’t find absolutely repugnant — and I might do even that, if the alternative was having them shut out completely. (I think the university requires that all student groups have a faculty advisor.) But there are costs to that, as most people won’t look beyond the superficial connection.