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90s Law Student Channels Hit Clueless in 10,000 Word Refugee Essay

A law student has channeled ’90s Clueless into a 10,000-word essay on refugees. Toju Adelaja, 21, submitted the essay last week as part of her common law degree at the University of Glasgow.

She based her argument on a quote from the 1995 romantic comedy film, in which spoiled teenager Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) navigates high school life with a view of the world informed only by her wealthy lifestyle. Ms Adelaja, from Gravesend, Kent, hopes to complete a top-notch degree before moving into the practice of commercial law and doing pro bono immigration work.

She used the basis of Cher’s naïve argument at the start of the film – that more refugees could be taken in if there was the political will to do so – to make the case. His thesis titled “In conclusion, may I remind you that it does not say ‘RSVP’ on the Statue of Liberty”: the refugee definition provided for in Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Refugee Convention is still suitable? had friends begging to read it.

Ms Adelaja argued that refugee status could be extended to people fleeing the climate crisis, which is currently not covered by the Geneva Convention. She also proposed that economic migrants be, in some cases, considered refugees, that gender-based violence could be extended beyond female genital mutilation, and that the asylum process be expanded to be less prescriptive.

The speech that inspired Ms. Adelaja was about the United States accepting refugees from Haiti, which Cher likened to people not responding to a dinner party. In the film, she says during a debate, “So, OK, like right now, for example, Haitians have to come to America. But some people are all, ‘What about the pressure on our resources?’



Alicia Silverstone, who plays Cher Horowitz in Clueless

“But it’s like, when I had this garden party for my dad’s birthday, right? I said RSVP because it was a sit-down dinner. But people came like that, didn’t answer, so I was like, totally wiretapped I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute food, mash in extra cutlery, but at the end of the day it was like , the more the merrier!

“And so, if the government could just get in the kitchen, reorganize some things, we could definitely party with the Haitians. And in conclusion, may I remind you that it does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty?”

Ms Adelaja said her ‘serious’ law tutor was taken aback by the choice. She said: “It’s one of my favorite films and I really wanted to do a thesis that marries into romantic comedies.

“It’s a simplistic, easy angle to the film – that we can accommodate all the people if we want to, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as we made it. That’s what Cher tells the beginning of the movie, it’s pretty innocent the way it’s presented.

“If we want to help more people than we can, it was just a matter of presenting it from a legal angle. It ended up being very topical.”



Toju Adelaja and his thesis based on refugee status
Toju Adelaja and his thesis based on refugee status

Planning began in October, and Toju began writing the thesis in January, before the war in Ukraine began. She chose not to mention the conflict in the essay.

She said: “I submitted it last week. The main question is whether the term ‘refugee’ is up to date and whether it is broad enough. One thing he mentions is climate refugees – climate change forces people to flee where they live, but this is not considered a cause in the Geneva Convention.

“I looked at gender because female genital mutilation is seen as a justification for refugee status, but there are other things in terms of gender as well. I also focused on the economic reasons in case of collapse of a government or economy, as in Zimbabwe.

“A lot of people have applied for refugee status in South Africa, but it wasn’t accepted because they were economic migrants – but it’s something more voluntary. You have to be able to work and be able to eat.

“I am passionate about human rights. I hope to get a first.”

Clueless was first released in 1995, starring Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy and Paul Rudd. It’s loosely based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma, ​​with a modern Beverly Hills setting.


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