Message from Dean Michael Waterstone
June 18, 2020
Dear LLS Community,
On May 31, I sent out this note to our community about the horrific patterns of anti-Black racist violence against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others, noting that, amongst other things, we must challenge ourselves to look inward at our biases and preconceptions. Since then, we have had continued conversations on both our campus and as part of the wider university about a path forward. Last Saturday, we joined LLS’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) in a peaceful demonstration of unity for Black lives. BLSA’s leadership role in organizing the event and ongoing leadership within LLS informs our anti-racist agenda going forward.
We, the LLS administration, stand in solidarity for Black lives and condemn racist acts and systemic racism. We seek progress toward a law school that is authentically anti-racist. As lawyers and legal educators, we embrace our professional duty to advance justice in any and all legal areas in which we practice, which includes efforts to dismantle institutionalized racism in our community and beyond. We are grateful for and benefit from our faculty, staff, students and alums whose work calls attention to and against the regimes that perpetuate systemic racism. LLS’s mission to educate leaders in the legal profession and society, with a deep concern for social justice, is more relevant than ever.
We continue on the path we had committed to in the last academic year – appointing an Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion, to ensure that the administration’s decision-making processes are conscious of issues of systemic racial inequality and diversity. I am grateful that Professor Kathleen Kim, named by The National Jurist as a law school “Leader in Diversity,” has agreed to hold this position.
In support and collaboration with the LMU positions outlined in President Snyder’s email on June 16, 2020, and in furtherance of our LLS mission, we make the following commitments to the curriculum, community and society:
Engaging the Curriculum
For the 2020-2021 academic year, we will ensure that orientation for newly enrolled students includes a session on systemic racism and implicit bias. We will offer two new courses: a 1L elective on Critical Race Theory, and a Race & Law Colloquium. For the 2021-2022 academic year and beyond, we commit to training faculty and staff on anti-racist and anti-bias pedagogy that also attends to the relationship between law and institutionalized discrimination. We also commit to an immediate faculty conversation, informed by the experience of our students, with the goal of incorporating concepts of racial justice and systemic inequality into the 1L curriculum and beyond.
Enriching Our Community
In collaboration with the Equity and Inclusion Committee, faculty, staff, students and alums, we will spend this academic year developing a strategic plan for equity and inclusion that will define specific goals and timelines. This strategic plan will be informed by recommendations from BLSA and other stakeholders in our community. We will also create a dedicated presence on the LLS website that highlights past and present work of faculty, staff, students and alumni that advances racial justice including statements, scholarship, op-eds and legislative advocacy/testimony, as well as courses in the clinics and others that include race-conscious components.
For Faculty and Staff, we will:
- Offer regular forums that bring together faculty and staff in a safe space to engage in discussions about race. These conversations will be facilitated by the Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion and guest experts including student leaders of color. We will also offer listening sessions to faculty and staff in small groups.
- We will provide implicit bias and stereotype-threat training for faculty and staff, as well as faculty training on best practices to engage diverse students online and in the classroom.
- The Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion will continue work with the Office of Intercultural Affairs to follow up on focus group conversations and implement a community check-in and climate surveys.
- We commit to prioritize hiring, promotion and retention of Black faculty and staff and other diverse faculty and staff. In line with President Snyder’s email, these efforts will be visible on a scorecard that applies to all units of the university.
For Students, we will:
- Offer regular forums for students to engage in race dialogue. These will be facilitated by the Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion, with participation of guest experts. The Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion will also provide listening sessions to student affinity groups, and conduct town hall meetings to address concerns about racism and structural inequality.
- We will revisit strategies to recruit diverse student enrollment, increase diversity scholarships and ensure faculty participation. We will report back to the community on these efforts.
- We will sustain engagement with alumni of color to build support and mentorship for students of color, and to receive alumni of color feedback. And we will continue to offer our Generation One program and diversity week events that support first-generation students and students of color, featuring lectures and talks by experts on race and the law and other perspectives on systemic inequality.
Expanding Our Impact
We commit to supporting the important work of LLS’s Policing Los Angeles Forum, which has brought together police officers, criminal law attorneys, politicians, activists and scholars to discuss the best practices in community and constitutional policing. We will also actively participate in efforts to create a national center, including law schools across the country, focused on racial justice. Finally, we will prioritize securing funding toward creation of the LLS Racial Justice Center, to offer faculty, staff and student events, research and advocacy addressing racial justice, implicit bias and systemic racism.
Thank you again for all that you do to make our community a strong one. Together, we will constantly work at becoming more equitable and just.
Michael E. Waterstone
Fritz B. Burns Dean, Loyola Law School
Senior Vice President, Loyola Marymount University