Updates from the Anti-Racism Steering Committee

The Columbia Law School Anti-Racism Steering Committee provides an update on its work during the Spring 2021 semester. 

Dear Members of the Columbia Law School community,

The Anti-Racism Steering Committee provided its last community update at the beginning of the Spring semester, on January 28, 2021. That update discussed, among other developments:

  • Establishment of the Racial and Social Justice Fellowship Program;
  • Establishment of the Anti-Racism Grantmaking Program (ARGP);
  • New Diversity and Opportunity Scholarships for incoming students;
  • Expansion of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic in Harlem;
  • An array of anti-racism programs, resources, and trainings sponsored by the Office of Social Justice Initiatives;
  • A faculty-facilitated book club series on anti-racism topics; and
  • A new project to support students from underrepresented groups in seeking judicial clerkships. 

Since January 28, the Steering Committee has continued to work with partners across the Law School to make progress on the Anti-Racism Agenda published last Fall. In addition to awarding the inaugural Racial and Social Justice Fellowships and ARGP grants, this progress includes:

  • Launch of the Academic Scholars Program designed to support the academic careers of students from a wide array of backgrounds;
  • New course evaluation questions on inclusive pedagogy first introduced for Legal Methods II;
  • Approval of a new scholarship for First Generation law students;
  • Establishment of a permanent faculty Committee on Teaching that will help promote inclusive instruction and attention throughout the curriculum to the influence of structural racism on the development of the law;
  • Initial steps in developing new faculty-facilitated programming for 1Ls on race-related legal topics;
  • Development of new curricular and pro bono projects and experiential learning opportunities in Harlem;
  • Creation of a new prize, to be instituted at the end of this semester, for best student paper on race and the law;
  • Diversification of art and portraiture on the upper floors of Jerome Greene Hall;
  • Ongoing investigation of barriers to public sector and public interest careers for students of color;
  • Commitment of financial and nonfinancial support to the Paralegal Pathways Initiative; and
  • Establishment of a working group to study the Law School’s historical ties to slavery or other practices that warrant a historical reexamination.

In addition, the faculty has continued to focus on diversification of the pool of candidates considered for faculty appointments and has had a very active year in recruitment activities. Exciting new appointments to the faculty will be announced later this Spring.

The horrific murders in Atlanta on March 16 brought new attention to an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence throughout the United States. The Law School’s commitment to anti-racism embraces a commitment to eradicating anti-Asian violence, bias, and hate, and the Steering Committee has been actively discussing these issues with students and faculty. To that end, the Steering Committee and the Office of Student Services will hold a public program on Wednesday, April 7, at 12:10 PM, on Anti-Asian Bias and Violence: How Can We Respond? This event will feature special guests New York State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and AALDEF Immigrant Justice Project Director Annie Wang ’88, in conversation with Professors Bert Huang and Benjamin Liebman. Registration is open now using this link.

The Steering Committee has appreciated the input of many members of the Law School throughout the year, as well as the comments and suggestions that have been—and still can be—submitted through this form. To provide an opportunity for continuing discussion within our community, members of the Steering Committee will hold a second forum on Monday, April 12, at 12:10 PM, to discuss the Steering Committee’s work and to respond to questions in real time. Registration is open now using this link.

The Law School’s Anti-Racism Steering Committee

David Pozen, Vice Dean for Intellectual Life & Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law (chair)
Richard Briffault, Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation
Anu Chugh, Class of 2022
Jamal Greene, Dwight Professor of Law
Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law (ex officio)
Lynnise Pantin, Clinical Professor of Law
Yadira Ramos-Herbert, Associate Dean of Student and Registration Services
Colleen Shanahan, Clinical Professor of Law
Erica Smock, Assistant Dean and Dean for Social Justice Initiatives & Public Service Lawyering
Dante Violette, Class of 2022


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