What Stigma Do You Want To Burn? – Salem Witch Trials

Co-Authored by Isabella Limonta, Kéran Billaud, Katie O'Sullivan

The Association for Public Interest Law hosted its Annual Salem Witch Trials on Tuesday. The organization took donations in return for bundles of sticks where students could write a stigma to be ceremonially burnt at the stake. The sticks will be actually burnt at a bonfire on Nov. 9. All proceeds from the event go to organization’s public interest fellowships. Art Law, Outlaw and Mental Health Law co-sponsored the event.

The following students told The Brief what stigma they wanted to burn and what doing so meant to them.

“The stigma I burnt was white supremacy. After having Richard Spencer speak on campus I felt pretty upset that he was allowed to do that and that our school was 

paying over $600,000 to keep students safe. I thought [symbolically burning white supremacy] would be a healthy alternative to get my anger out.”

Christina Barbo, 2L

“I wanna burn willful ignorance because I think people should take serious efforts to educate themselves on issues from a lot of different perspectives. I feel like you should get the side of it that you don’t agree with and the side that you do agree with and form your opinions based on that – based on a full understanding of the situation.”

Zach Broadway, 1L

“[I burnt] judgement. As people, it feels right to try to make sense of the world around us, and judging without merit is an easy way to do so. It’s easy to hear a label, a rumor or a reputation and assume that that’s who that person or group is. When we judge without merit, rumors form and spiral quickly. As lawyer scholars we have a duty to reserve our judgments in our pursuit of the truth. So that person you think is strange, that view you don’t like or that rumor you heard that just doesn’t sound right? Talk to that person, reach out to these groups and reserve judgement until we have the truth.”

– Reza Ayazi, 2L

“I wrote to find justice for those innocent in prison. For me, personally in my career, I want to be a public defender [because] I see so many people going into prison that are innocent. That was related to me applying to the Innocent Project when I was in Chicago, which basically tries to find exonerating evidence for prisoners to find them innocent. That is just an issue that I see so much in courts by either coercion  of police or impermissible evidence being permitted into the courts. I just see this as a major problem right now, and I just want that resolved.”

Noah Blake, 1L

“I was a bit overwhelmed with how many stigmas came to mind that I would like to see burn at the stake that I decided to keep it light when writing a stigma on my bundle. My boyfriend left this morning to go back to Colorado, so I wrote long-distance relationships as my stigma. All of us have been told that many relationships fail when one partner begins law school and that long-distance relationships make it so much harder. Though true, I think some of us aren’t embracing how beneficial they can be too. It’s only temporary, and I get so much more work done without having to feel bad about ignoring the latest fantasy football debacle. Overall: I wish people would stop being so judgmental of others’ relationships – different things work for different people.”

-Katie Sadlo, 1L

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