Glasgow University law student pens 10,000 word dissertation on refugee status inspired by cult 90s film Clueless

A Glasgow University law student penned a 10,000 word dissertation inspired by cult 90s film Clueless.

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Toju Adelaja, 21, is studying Common Law at the University of Glasgow, which will allow her to practice in England.

Last week she handed in a 10,000 word essay on refugee status, based around a quote from 1995 rom-com Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone as spoiled teenager Cher Horowitz, whose world view is based entirely around the lifestyle of her rich dad.

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Toju, from Gravesend, Kent, who hopes to achieve a first when she graduates, would like to practice commercial law while doing pro-bono work on immigration.

Toju Adelaja and her dissertation based on refugee status, based around a quote from 1995 rom-com Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone

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 political will to do so, to make a legal case for it.

The dissertation titled "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?', has had pals begging to read it.

Toju argued that refugee status could be expanded to people fleeing the climate crisis - which is currently not covered by the Geneva Convention.

She argued 'economic migrants' should in some instances be considered refugees, after many Zimbabweans were declined refugee status in neighbouring South Africa, and that gender violence could be expanded beyond female genital mutilation.

She suggested the asylum seeking process, which comes prior to achieving refugee status, should be expanded to be less prescriptive.

The speech which inspired Toju was about America accepting refugees from Haiti, which Cher compared to people failing to R.S.V.P at a dinner party.

In the film she said: "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?".

Toju explained that her "serious" law tutor was surprised at the choice, and friends had been begging to read her dissertation. She 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.

"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."

Planning began in October and Toju began writing the dissertation in January, before the war began in Ukraine.

She didn't mention the conflict in the dissertation. 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 it mentions is climate refugees, climate change is causing people to have to flee where they live but it's not seen as a cause in the Geneva Convention.

"I looked at gender, because female genital mutilation is seen as justification for refugee status but there are other things in terms of gender too.

"I also focused on economic reasons, where there has been breakdown of a government or economy, like in Zimbabwe.

"A lot of people sought refugee status in South Africa but it wasn't accepted as they were economic migrants - but that is something more voluntary.

"You need to be able to work and need to be able to eat. I'm passionate about human rights. I'm hoping to get a first."