On February 27, our students hosted an event to kick-start our annual diversity week with a panel of judges, attorneys, professors, and students.
Each speaker shared their professional journey and how they address diversity and cultural competence in the legal field. Students submitted questions in advance for the event and Joanna Martin, president of HLLSA, moderated the panel discussion.
Kim Bailey – Associate Professor of Law, Norman and Edna Freehling Scholar
Victoria Ryan, Associate Director of Career Services, provided this recap of the panel discussion:
On January 29, a great group of students turned out on a very cold night in Chicago with sub-zero temperatures to hear a panel of six distinguished attorneys discuss their roles as in-house corporate counsel:
David Susler – Associate General Counsel, National Material L.P.
Matthew Hamielic ’17 – Associate Attorney, Innovation Law Department, Allstate
Angela Frye ’97 – General Counsel, Great Lakes Market, Verizon Wireless
On January 24, 2019, Chicago-Kent hosted the 4th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Forum sponsored by the law school’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Multiculturalism & Professional Development as well as several faculty committees, departments, and student organizations.
After Professor Wilson’s discussion, other panelists gave their perspectives on the impact of legal racism in finance, education reform, and housing policy. An open question and answer session followed that addressed specific examples, terms, and trends from the presentation and the speaker discussion.
During Diversity Week 2018, our Muslim Law Students Association featured a panel of members who shared their stories as law students about how their faith has motivated them to join the legal field. They also addressed the types of discussions and questions they encounter about their religious practices and beliefs.
Shahina Khan, MLSA President 2017-2018, moderated the panel.
During Diversity Week 2018, The Chicago-Kent Lambdas hosted an event titled “The T in LGBT: Dispelling Myths and Raising Awareness on Trans Issues.”
The event was moderated by Lambdas Secretary Elisabeth Hieber and featured Reyna Ortiz, a Trans Latinx activist and author.
Elisabeth began by introducing the wide ranging work and talents of Reyna, then continued with questions she had prepared, from basic vocabulary to outreach and advocacy within and for the trans community. The event ended with an open Q&A with the audience.
Diversity Week 2018 started off with a panel about what diversity means to law students and issues affecting minorities in the legal field.
Moderator Joanna Martin started the panel with prepared questions, then opened it up for a Q&A with the students in the audience. Our speakers shared their experiences in classrooms and courtrooms to show the value of including more diverse perspectives in the legal field.
While the student leaders agreed on many principles, they also offered contrasting perspectives about presenting their experiences in conversations or written statements like scholarship applications.
Professor Forman described how, while working as a public defender early in his career, he saw many of African-American prosecutors and judges using the same history that motivated him to become a public defender to instead justify incarceration of his clients, and he wanted to understand why.
For me, it was telling that story of the criminal system over the last 50 years through the lens of African-American prosecutors, police chiefs, judges legislators, citizen activists, everyday citizens – trying to figure out, through their voices, what was going on and how was it that at least some of them had come to think that these policies that the government, that the United States as a nation was pursuing made sense. Were they tricked? Were they coerced? What was the story?
Kofi Ademola gave some historical context for the Black Lives Matter movement, which was founded by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors. These three black queer women started the hashtag on social media in reaction to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case.
The Black Lives Matter website helped build the movement when activists protesting the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson used it to start local chapters across the country.
Criminal Justice Reform in Chicago
In Chicago, Kofi Ademola noted there had already been 20 police shootings in 5 years with no convictions, so the issue of police violence has always been central. He said the goal of Black Lives Matter Chicago is to decentralize power and to centralize marginalized voices and communities.
Our Muslim Law Student Association hosted an “Ask Muslims Anything” event during our Diversity Week 2017, giving students a chance to submit questions about Islam or Muslims anonymously.
These questions covered a range of topics from historical Islam to understanding religious practices and challenges Muslims face in the United States due to common misconceptions or outright discrimination.
The panelists represented a range of different personal and religious backgrounds and offered contrasting perspectives throughout the discussion.