Making Fordham Law Welcoming and Inclusive
Too many students of color do not feel embraced and supported by Fordham Law and instead feel isolated and marginalized. We are renewing and deepening our commitment to ensuring that students of color are welcomed into our community and are fully supported. In addition to delivering on the promises outlined below, we will continue to explore and implement additional means of moving Fordham Law beyond the structural racism that has impacted the experiences of students of color as well as of staff and faculty.
Action Items and Status
Create Anti-Racism Book Groups
Launched book groups for faculty and staff that meet regularly to explore themes around discrimination, structural racism, and implicit bias. Books have included Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and Just Us: An American Conversation by Claudia Rankine, among other selections.
Hosted a George A. Strait Minority Fellow, Christine Park. The fellowship provides students from underrepresented groups with a unique opportunity to obtain meaningful and practical law library experience.
Launch a Dean’s Student Advisory Council on Diversity
Established a Dean’s Student Advisory Council on Diversity composed of a cross-section of students to assist the administration in identifying concerns and implementing change. Student members meet regularly with the Dean to discuss diversity-related issues, and form community among diverse student leaders.
Create Dialogue Days
Launched a series of Fordham Dialogue Days—programs that challenge all members of Fordham Law to engage in open discussion together and in small groups on social justice issues.
Expand Diversity Training for Faculty and Staff
Expanded training on diversity, equity, and inclusion for all full-time faculty, beginning in December 2020. Training is ongoing. In addition, expanded training of adjunct faculty includes issues of anti-racism, unconscious-bias awareness, and cultural competence in order to create a culture of inclusion in the classroom. To date, over 140 adjunct faculty have undergone training sessions, and these will continue. Furthermore, mandatory training for staff was implemented in November 2020 to provide diversity, equity, and inclusion education to ensure greater sensitivity to the needs and perspectives of students of color, as well as opportunities for staff to participate in discussions surrounding anti-racism and issues relating to social justice. Staff training is ongoing.
Institute Blind Grading
In order to eliminate the potential for implicit bias, first-year legal writing will now be blind graded after the initial assignment. This conforms with the approach the Law School takes with other first-year courses.
Review and Analyze Racial Climate at the Law School
Prepare a climate study, analyzing how issues of racism in all its forms are woven into our institution, and make recommendations. A special committee on Race and the Law School Climate is charged with leading this process. Dr. Roger Worthington of the Worthington Center at the University of Maryland has been commissioned to undertake the study.
Strengthen Anti-Racism Programming
Building on programming on diversity, equity, and inclusion launched in January 2019 for all first-year students and focused on anti-racism, the Law School centered the spring 2021 1L orientation on anti-racism and DEI issues within law school and the legal profession. Additionally, the Law School has added a new racial equity inclusion program to the fall 1L semester House experiences. The Law School will also host DEI workshops for student organizations, including journals and competition teams. Read more.
Weave Issues of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Identity into the Curriculum Design
The Law School has retained an expert to collaborate with the faculty in incorporating DEI material within the courses offered. The DEI expert has partnered with the Law School to provide resources, encouragement, and support to ensure that DEI issues, especially those pertaining to race and gender, can be explored in courses within the core curriculum.
Create a Strategic Plan for Diversity
Develop a comprehensive strategic plan on race and other aspects of diversity once a thorough climate study is completed. Provide guidance and feedback throughout the climate study process. Implement recommended areas for improvement to enhance the experience of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.