Successful Conference Session Gives Food for Thought

By Angela Schultz

Over 200 people joined our January 6th conference panel, Calling Out and Leaning-in to Racial and Class Inequities in Experiential Learning Opportunities. The 90-minute session, moderated by Angela Schultz of Marquette Law School, featured discussion among three panelists:

  • Alexi Freeman, associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Denver Law;
  • Amada Rivas, director of externships at St. Mary’s School of Law; and
  • Michele Storms, executive director of the ACLU of Washington and former assistant dean for public service at the University of Washington School of Law.

Panelists discussed matters ranging from the personal to the professional, including sharing bits of their own life stories, personal identities, and on-the-job learning experiences when teaching about racism, intersectionality, and cultural humility.  Attendees used the chat to weigh in with questions, comments, and to share relevant resources. Comments included:

  • This panel is certainly helping engage my brain on how I can better raise diversity and inclusion issues with my students.
  • Georgia State University has a resource list intended to bring discussions of race and racism into core law school courses. See www.law.gsu.edu/racialjustice
  • Another great resource if the deans’ anti-racist clearinghouse page: www.aals.org/antiracist-clearinghouse/
  • I love the idea of including discussion about imposter syndrome in class. A great resource on this topic is Neha Sampat: http://www.genlead.co/
  • This is the most powerful and useful discussion on this topic I have ever heard.

Questions raised by the group pose some potential for future programming. For example:

  • How can we “reach across the aisle” and work with students who might think of diversity, equity, and inclusion as code for “liberal-leaning perspectives only”?
  • Can we find a place to share content of training and materials we use to raise these issues with our law students? Where do you make room for these sessions during the semester?
  • How do we keep conversations about racism from turning into “pity” for others? I sometimes worry my students perceive others’ trauma (the trauma of racism) more as their own various trauma. How are you talking about vicarious trauma with your students?

Members of the section board met for a business meeting after the session when the Chair of our section, Sande Buhai of Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, commented that in her 18 years on the section, this was our best conference session to-date.

Kudos to all involved.


Angela Schultz ([email protected]) is Assistant Dean for Public Service at Marquette University Law School