National Jurist - March 2009 - (Page 22)
search for the missing voices The Diversity in the classroom sends a message. A major goal of some law schools is to develop a community where diversity is understood and evident in everything they do, and a diverse faculty is a key component to this process. BY KAREN DYBIS t was a nightmare of epic proportions — at the time of the national anthrax scare, an envelope with a piece of hate mail and an unknown white powder arrived for the University of California-Davis’ La Raza Law Student Association. The panic was immediate. The powder proved harmless, but damage was done to the students’ feeling of security. The law school was shaken, especially because the hate mail arrived at the same time as the group’s scheduled César Chávez Celebration. The administration and faculty acted quickly, organizing community forums and open discussions with students, recalled then-Associate Dean Kevin Johnson. At one gathering, more than 100 law school students, faculty and staff members came together to show support for La Raza, which sponsored the Chávez Celebration. The moment proved healing and life-affirming. “The students trusted the administration and faculty. They worked with us to calm things down,” said Johnson, who now serves as the law school’s first Latino dean. “And it worked. Without a diverse and caring faculty and administration, this could have been a very bad episode in the school’s history. In the end, it made us all stronger and more committed to each other.” While much of the outside world’s attention tends to fall on student enrollment, law schools of every size, stature and situation say one of the most important things they do on a daily basis is create a diverse faculty to support their mission as an educational institution. The issue is so important that the Princeton Review asks students to rank law schools annually on faculty diversity. Its rankings are based on the percentage of the law school faculty that is from a minority group as well as student assessment of whether the faculty makes up “a broadly diverse group of individuals.” For 2009, the top five law schools are Howard University, Florida International University, Temple University, the University of Hawaii — Manoa and Southern University. Johnson’s UC Davis ranked No. 10. However, finding a wide-ranging mix of law faculty is something most law schools struggle with, according to the 2007-2008 Association of American Law Schools Statistical Report on Law School Faculty And Candidates for Law Faculty Positions. The National Jurist explores how a diverse faculty affects current and future law students, how the stats have increased over the years and what it all means. Diversity and its impact The 2007-2008 Association of American Law Schools Statistical Report on Law School Faculty And Candidates for Law Faculty Positions shows that nearly 63 percent of law school faculty is male. Of those men noting their racial back- 22 THE NATIONAL JURIST March 2009
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