Stetson University College of Law faculty voted on Oct. 9, 2020, to approve an Antiracism Resolution that declares their commitment to “dismantling all forms of oppressive power dynamics and challenging any assumptions that diminish human dignity, including those that rely on racist assumptions.”
The resolution grew out of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee’s and faculty’s concern about the national unrest that unfolded throughout the summer of 2020, particularly in response to the unjust killings of Black Americans – such as Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor – that were argued as being defensible under current law and were the catalyst for the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, said Lance Long, Professor of Law and faculty co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Many Stetson Law students, including our Black Law Students Association, called upon the College of Law to not only reflect on what was happening nationally, but to take a stand, said Carmen Johnson, director of Diversity Initiatives and Recruitment and staff co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
“Students wanted to know that they are attending an institution that not only recognizes the issue of systemic racism, but actively works to address it,” she said.
In response, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which comprises 15 members from the College of Law staff and faculty, drafted a resolution that acknowledges racial and societal injustices that have been in place since the establishment of this country and includes a multi-point call to action.
“The faculty and Diversity Committee acknowledge that racism is an affliction that we must never enable, and that we should actively be antiracists and take responsibility to condemn and end racism. Further, that we need to identify and challenge systemic prejudice wherever it exists, that we are all accountable for doing the work necessary for policy changes that dismantle structural systems of oppression that perpetuate racial inequities in our society, that we will strive to be better listeners and supporters of those who are the victims of racism, that we will never rest until every American feels safe, free and accepted in our country, and that we will continuously abide by the goal of providing respect and equal treatment to all in upholding the rule of law.”
Read the complete Resolution: Stetson University College of Law Antiracism Resolution October 2020
“I am proud to be part of a community, like Stetson Law, that is so openly dedicated to tackling difficult issues, deeply committed to learning and to persisting toward equity, even when the dialogues and processes of coalition building are challenging. The democratic process that has unfolded these last four months at our law school began with the students. And, it continues to be inspired by them,” said Dean Michèle Alexandre.
Faculty and staff participated in a campus-wide, collaborative process where everyone had a chance to review and comment on the draft resolution, participate in a virtual discussion with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and vote in an anonymous staff poll before the faculty approved the resolution on Oct. 9.
Of the staff members who participated in a poll on the resolution, 80 percent were in favor of it.
– Ashley McKnight-Taylor