Columbia Law School has been the focus of much attention these past few days regarding the Columbia Law School Coalition of Concerned Students of Color’s Emergency Action Letter to our faculty and administration. The Coalition had several asks in that letter, but overall, we (BLSA & the Coaltion) were concerned with the physical and psychological health and well-being of our students.
Here, our students are hurting. They are traumatized. They fear for their lives, or the lives of their friends, family, and colleagues. While this fear and trauma is nothing new for black students, it has become much more immediate and impossible to ignore in the wake of the Grand Jury decisions in Ferguson and New York.
We were appalled by our institution’s complete lack of awareness and response to the trauma that was directly affecting us, and we did everything in our power to make sure that not only was it recognized, but validated and vindicated by proactive solutions and policies that would help us to heal, and affirmatively work towards making our law school a better place for students of color.
While BLSA was not involved as an organization to author the letter, our Chapter fully supported and applauded the efforts by the Coalition. The Coalition and BLSA was thoughtful about this choice. As institutional actors, Black Law Students Associations in law schools across the country have less freedom than a Coalition of purely student actors would provide. Leaders and Members of student groups were involved as they felt a personal responsibility to advocate on behalf of themselves and other students, and a love for our institution and desire to make it a better place.
We are so excited that a cohort of Georgetown Law students are doing the same, and really advocating on behalf themselves, and students whose feelings, experiences, and needs are rarely prioritized amongst the administration. I urge everyone to support this effort and join in with the Georgetown Coalition to help make your campus a better place. We’ve already begun to have our experiences recognized and understood, and it’s been so personally fulfilling. I wish you all the best of luck!
Columbia Law School Black Law Students Association President on Behalf of the BLSA Board