It’s one thing for a law school to say they are committed to diversity and inclusion. It’s another to actively engage in that commitment.
At Stetson Law, one of the many ways we strive to embrace diversity is through our annual Diversity Week. This student-led event features daily programming that drives discussion and reflection on diversity at the College of Law and beyond.
In 2021, Diversity Week was hosted by Stetson Law’s Student Bar Association with support from the campus wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, Social Justice Advocacy, and Stetson’s representatives of the Florida Law Schools’ Consortium on Racial Justice. Lectures, discussions, and panels were hosted by a variety of student organizations, and covered a wide range of topics.
A focus on racial equity
This year’s theme, “Representation & Racial Justice,” combined virtual programming hosted by Stetson Law with selected readings, podcasts, and TED Talks from the American Bar Association’s 21-day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge.
Featuring a packed schedule of virtual events and media to engage with, students had the framework and resources to come prepared for thoughtful discussions.
For example, for the first event, Color of Law: Conversations on the History of Residential Segregation, students were invited to read the book tied to the topic beforehand; however, a video was also played at the beginning of the event to summarize the main points of the book. That way, all participants could be ready to engage in the discussion.
This event involved a discussion of residential segregation in the U.S. and how it’s still happening on a widespread scale today.
“We had some really impactful and engaging conversations around it as far as racial restrictions in deeds and how those things are still coming back in the modern day,” said Jasmine Mattear, 3L, President of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). The conversation included not just an overview of the problems, but also potential solutions, such as mixed-income housing.
“People need to fight to make sure these laws are followed and fight to make sure these issues have someone shining a light on them so that we can actually uphold people to the law,” said Mattear.
That event is one of many that discussed racial equity. Others included:
- Behind the Mask: An Inside Look at Health Inequity: In this event, guest speakers discussed healthcare disparities that occur in the context of broader inequality, specifically with COVID-19 and more generally. The event was hosted by Health Law Advocates and the Black Law Student Association.
- The Intersection of Systemic Racism & Black Women’s Health: This event provided meaningful discussion based on a TED Talk titled “The trauma of systemic racism is killing Black women. A first step toward change.” The event was hosted by the Florida Association of Women Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Diversity from many lenses
While the theme was racial inequity, there were also many events that included broader themes of diversity and inclusion, including:
- How to Be a Better Ally: This event, hosted by the Jewish Law Student Association and the Law Democrats, started its discussion on how to be a better ally based on an article, 9 Phrases That Allies Can Use Instead of Getting Defensive.
- Discussion With Nathan Bruemmer: In this event, Stetson Law alumnus and the Legislative Director for the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, Nathan Bruemmer, talked about his experiences lobbying the Florida Legislature on LGBTQ+ issues.
- Poetry in the Law: A Disability Perspective: Hosted by a fairly new organization on campus — the Stetson Law School Disability Allied Law Students Association — this event explored implicit biases and legal issues faced by individuals with disabilities with the creative energy of poetry.
- 1st Gen Lawyer Survival Panel: This event, hosted by the Hispanic Bar Association, featured a panel of 1st-generation law students and attorneys discussing their own experiences and answering questions.
All of the Diversity Week events featured greater collaboration between student organizations, which was important to Professor Kristen D. Adams, who hosted the Poetry in the Law event.
“I thought Diversity Week was wonderful this year. I really think it’s been the best Diversity Week we’ve had,” she said. “There was a lot of collaboration. For example, one of the events during Diversity Week was SJA [our Social Justice Advocacy concentration] partnering with our new Disability Allied Law Students Association. People are working together more, which is nice.”
This theme of intersectionality and collaboration was echoed in Nathan Bruemmer’s talk. “There are a number of marginalized groups that have created a conversation in the last year,” he said. “We have shown ways, especially this year, in how we’re stronger together. Celebrate the wins. Make sure you provide hope and carry it forward.”
Stetson Law: Committed to diversity & inclusion
Stetson Law’s commitment to engagement and education on racial equity and — more broadly — diversity is essential for future lawyers.
“It is important that law students are familiar and can talk about these issues, have these conversations, and do self-reflection, because one day we’re going to go out into the real world and we’re going to represent clients,” said Jasmine Mattear. “We need to go into those scenarios with this mindset and this knowledge that people have different experiences and those experiences can be based on the color of their skin, or their religion, or their ethnicity, or their ability or disability, and so we want to make sure that we have these conversations around diversity and inclusion.”
We strive to actively foster an environment where students can feel empowered to speak their minds on a variety of topics. Special course offerings, student groups, and community engagement are all a part of our mission to embrace diversity.