National attention on racial justice brought on by deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement has prompted calls for systemic change in a wide range of institutional contexts, from policing to the workplace. The leader of the University of Colorado Law School has started an anti-racism initiative he hopes will build lasting momentum toward increasing diversity and inclusion.
In July the law school announced the yearlong Anti-Racism and Representation Initiative. Broadly, the initiative includes actions targeted at each part of legal education, from student recruitment to building more culturally diverse perspectives and education about racism and law into the curriculums to implicit bias training.
Diversity and inclusion have been key focus points for Dean James Anaya since his appointment in 2016, such as recruiting more students of color and addressing the climate of the school for students of diverse backgrounds.
“But I think it’s fair to say that with the events in the late spring with the death of George Floyd, that caused us, and me individually, to reflect very specifically on what we need to do in this moment,” he said. “Not just to seize upon the moment but to move forward as a genuinely inclusive school that … advances anti-racism in all that we do.”
Making law school affordable for students from underrepresented backgrounds through scholarships is key for increasing CU Law’s diversity, he said. The Leaders in Law and Community program provides full scholarships to students who are underrepresented in legal education and the profession, but Anaya said the program needs more funding.