Future magic circle trainee pens 10,000 word dissertation inspired by Clueless

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By Legal Cheek on


Glasgow Uni law student Toju Adelaja’s essay on refugee status based around quote from 90s rom-com


A future magic circle trainee has demonstrated first hand that inspiration for essays can be found in the most unlikely of places.

Glasgow University law student Toju Adelaja has gone public with how she recently submitted a 10,000 word dissertation on refugee status based on a quote from 90s rom-com Clueless.

For those clueless about Clueless, the film follows the social exploits of super-popular high school student Cher Horowitz (played by Alicia Silverstone) who lives in a Beverly Hills mansion with her fearsome litigation lawyer father Mel (played by Daniel Hedaya).

But how does this relate to refugee law we hear you ask?

Well, the title of Adelaja’s dissertation features a quote from a part of the movie where Cher compares America accepting refugees from Haiti to people failing to RSVP for a dinner party.

Her essay title reads: “‘In conclusion, may I remind you, it does not say ‘RSVP’ on the Statue of Liberty’: Is the definition of the refugee provided in Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Refugee Convention still fit for purpose?”

The essay sees the future rookie solicitor argue that refugee status could be extended to those fleeing climate-related disasters — something which is currently not covered by the Geneva Convention — and ‘economic migrants’ should in some instances be considered refugees, citing the issues faced by Zimbabweans who were declined refugee status in South Africa.

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Glasgow World further reports the 21-year-old, who is studying common law and is therefore good to practice south of the border, also suggested the asylum seeking process should be expanded to be less prescriptive.

Reflecting on the somewhat unusual essay inspiration, Adelaja said:

“It’s one of my favourite movies and I really wanted to do a dissertation that married in rom-coms. It is a simplistic, easy angle from the movie — that we can take in all the people if we want to, it doesn’t need to be as complicated as we have made it to be.”

The law student added: “It’s what Cher says at the start of the film, it’s quite innocent the way it’s put across. If we want to help more people we can — it was just about presenting it from a legal angle. It ended up being very topical.”

Read Cher’s quote from Clueless in full below:

“So, OK, like right now, for example, the Haitians need to come to America. But some people are all, ‘What about the strain on our resources?’

“But it’s like, when I had this garden party for my father’s birthday right?

“I said R.S.V.P. because it was a sit-down dinner. But people came that like, did not R.S.V.P. so I was like, totally bugging. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, squish in extra place settings, but by the end of the day it was like, the more the merrier!

“And so, if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians. And in conclusion, may I please remind you that it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty?”

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