Student Organizations Express Commitment to Racial Justice
In recent days, NYLS’s student-led organizations have shared community-wide messages expressing their support of Black Lives Matter and their commitment to advancing equity and justice within the School and the broader legal community. NYLS is proud of their efforts and will continue to update this page with any additional messages.
Message From the Student Bar Association
I dissent, therefore, from this legalization of racism. Racial discrimination in any form and in any degree has no justifiable part whatever in our democratic way of life. It is unattractive in any setting, but it is utterly revolting among a free people who have embraced the principles set forth in the Constitution of the United States. All residents of this nation are kin in some way by blood or culture to a foreign land. Yet they are primarily and necessarily a part of the new and distinct civilization of the United States. They must accordingly be treated at all times as the heirs of the American experiment and as entitled to all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Korematsu v. United States (Justice Murphy’s Dissent).
Today, we, too, are writing our own dissenting opinion. For too long, our nation has harmed many of its own citizens by using the very institution meant to protect them. For too long, we have prayed and hoped that this institutionalized racism would rectify itself. For too long, we have watched the slaughter of innocent Black people at the hands of our police.
As future attorneys, we have the power to shape our society for the better. It is up to us to ensure that we are fighting for the society that we want to see. We want our Black friends, Black families, and Black citizens to feel safe and protected. This goal, however, cannot be accomplished without providing justice to those who have been murdered or assaulted by the police.
Today, we are standing with those calling for an end to police brutality. We are shouting for justice. We are supporting our Black students, faculty, and alumni. We are fighting for George Floyd, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Rodney King, Breonna Taylor, and all of the others who were so senselessly taken from us. We call for the arrests and convictions of the numerous police officers that have murdered innocent Black people. Until they are arrested and convicted, there will be no justice.
We call for the end of delaying high-profile arrests. As written by New York Law School Professor Kirk Burkhalter in his New York Daily News article, “Without an arrest, Floyd’s family is being victimized a second time by the slow-turning wheels of our criminal justice system. The public must trust the police and our system of government to ensure fairness.”
We call for a restructuring of our nation’s law enforcement. In order for police to properly protect all citizens, there must be more qualifications required to become a police officer. Police officers need more rigorous training or more education before being allowed to protect citizens.
We call for votes. Our thoughts, prayers, and desires for change are not good enough anymore. We need action. We must take our anger and frustration to the polls. We live in a democracy where the fundamental changes needed to ensure equality for all must be achieved, not only through Presidential elections, but also through state and local elections.
We call for a cultural shift within our school community. Students and faculty should have resources available to maintain a dialogue surrounding racial justice issues and to elevate the voices of our school’s Black students. Students are demanding accountability and action, and the Student Bar Association is committed to working with student organizations to serve that end. We implore the school administration to do the same and to take the lead both inside and outside of the classroom.
We support Black Americans, who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. We must remain vigilant and make a concerted effort to meet the needs of our most vulnerable communities.
We support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It brings necessary attention to the systematic racism toward the Black community that must end. All lives cannot matter until Black lives matter.
We support our Black students, who elected us to serve them. The students at New York Law School gave us a platform, and we will use it to lift them up. We support our Black students’ legal education and careers because Black Lawyers Matter.
To our Black students, faculty, and alumni, this Student Bar Association stands with you and will fight for you because Black Lives Matter.
Corey L. Gibbs, President
Taylor Slotin, Vice President
Meagan Smyth, Evening Vice President
Kira A. Lopez, Diversity Officer
Victoria A. Ventimiglia, Attorney General
Julia Porzio, Secretary
Paige N. Clayland, American Bar Association Officer
Vincent M. Minella, Treasurer
Message From the Trial Competition Team
During the past several weeks, we have witnessed thousands of people of all racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds come together to address the inequality and racial bias of our nation’s policies and, unfortunately, our justice system.
While, decades ago, cases like Sweatt v. Painter, Brown v. Board of Education, and McLaughlin v. Florida helped establish some basic rights owed to Black Americans, they did not end the struggles faced by people of color in America. Systemic oppression has plagued our nation since its inception, always seen but rarely truly acknowledged. In recent years, we have seen a resurgence of calls to address these issues, through the use of social media and after a series of instances in which unarmed Black Americans were assaulted or killed by police officers, demonstrating that systemic oppression is very much alive.
Individual efforts to treat all races equally do not address the broader problem with our justice system, which disproportionately harms people of certain races. It is extremely difficult to change what has been ingrained in our society for centuries, but as New York Law School’s future lawyers, it is our duty to advocate for equality and for a justice system that is truly fair. It is our responsibility to raise the bar for the next generation of lawyers so that we may strive to effect change in our justice system, our government, and our society. New York Law School’s Trial Competition Team stands side by side with the millions of people fighting for equality, and we firmly stand by the belief that Black Lives Matter.
Message From the Latin American Law Students Association
On behalf of the Latinx student body of New York Law School, the Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA) wants to express our solidary with the Black community, including our Black Latinx members and our colleagues in the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). We acknowledge that this is the very least we can do and that our actions need to match our words.
We understand that there is so much more work that we, as individuals and as a community, need to do in order to right the wrongs that have, for such a long time, perpetuated the racial and socioeconomic inequalities and injustices faced by the Black community in the United States. We acknowledge that non-Black people cannot fully understand the depths of pain and harm that the Black community endures on a daily basis.
We also know that we, the 2020–21 LALSA e-board, which is predominately comprised of non-Black Latinx, need to hold ourselves and the non-Black Latinx community accountable to do better because non-Black Latinxs have been complicit and played a role in perpetuating anti-Black sentiments and have benefited from the systemic racism in the United States because of our proximity to whiteness.
Every change begins with a single step. As such, the 2020–21 LALSA e-board is committed to actively educate ourselves, our families, and our community so that we can fight against anti-Black sentiments and the systemic racism that continue to oppress the Black community in the United States.
We are committed to holding each other and members of our larger community accountable, and here are some specific actions that LALSA will take as a student organization at NYLS:
1. We will plan at least one event per semester focused on educating and encouraging conversations within the NYLS community surrounding racial justice and antiracism.
2. We will use Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month to acknowledge, highlight, and celebrate contributions made by Black and Afro-Latinx individuals to the culture and history of Latin America.
3. We will actively work more closely with BLSA in planning joint events and offering our support during their events.
Additionally, we have included below some action items we will be undertaking as individuals and as a student organization. We encourage you to join our efforts to support the Black community, both at NYLS and beyond. Also, please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and there are many more actions you could take to effect change in our community.
1. Please reflect on the ways you perpetuate anti-Black sentiments and systemic racism. We can no longer allow ignorance to be the reason we fail to support the Black community. We believe that self-reflection will allow us to identify specific ways in which we can actively work to be anti-racist in all the areas of our lives.
– Since implicit bias plays a significant role in racism and anti-Black sentiments, we strongly recommend taking an Implicit Association Test to reflect on how we carry implicit biases.
2. Educate yourself and those closest to you! Please find below a list of resources we recommend you read or watch:
– Books: How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi • The New Jim Crowby Michelle Alexander • The White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo • I Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street by Matt Taibbi • Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence by Kellie Carter Jackson
– Films: 13th • When They See Us • Just Mercy • Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap • The Hate U Give
3. Join local protests, share important information for protesters, or provide jail support. To learn more about the work being done in New York City:
– Visit @legalaidnyc on Instagram to learn more about protestor’s rights.
– Visit @freethemall2020 on Instagram to learn more about how to provide jail support.
– Visit @nationallawyersguild on Instagram to get more information.
– Visit @bronxdefenders on Instagram to get more information.
– Go to www.neighborhooddefender.org.
– Go to www.brooklynbailfund.org/take-action.
4. Donate, if you can to:
– NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
5. Exercise your right to vote, and encourage your peers to vote.
– To register to vote, go to www.vote.gov.
6. Complete your census at www.2020census.gov.
Please note some things that non-Black, especially non-Black Latinx, allies should NOT do:
– Compare Latinx struggles to the Black experience in the United States.
– Rely on Black people to educate us on racial issues.
– Ask Black people to justify or explain their lived experiences.
– Expect Black people to recognize the work we are doing—these actions are not meant to be performative or for praise—everyone should see it as their duty to be anti-racist and to actively fight for Black people. Please educate yourself on the savior complex to ensure that you are not feeding into it.
– Much work needs to be done to right the wrongs that have, for such a long time, perpetuated the racial and socioeconomic inequalities and injustices in our society. Together, we can take the much-needed first step.
Aida Flores, President
Daniel Aguirre, Co-Vice President (Day)
Gabriela Pulla, Co-Vice President (Evening)
Kristina Hernandez, Secretary
Jaime Balbuena Hernandez, Treasurer
Jaklin Guyumjyan, Professional Development Chair
Destiney Henderson, Public Relations Chair
Alexander Vidal, Admissions and Alumni Chair
Natalie Alvarez, Academic Chair
Gina Rodriguez, Attorney General
Message From OutLaws
Let us commemorate Pride Month by remembering our beginnings. The first "Pride" was a riot in response to the police brutality that plagued the LGBTQ+ community only 51 years ago. It was direct action in response to gross injustice, not etiquette and police reform, that stopped state-sanctioned violence in our community. There would be no Pride without the Black trans women who fought on our behalf for justice and equality. They fought alone, making their voices heard when no one was willing to listen. Today, we must ensure that Black Americans are not fighting alone. We choose to honor the memory of our heroic predecessors by recommitting ourselves to the fight against police brutality and the oppression of Black people. It is high time for the LGBTQ+ community to stand up, so that 51 years from now, Black Americans may be privy to the same luxuries they have provided us with.
To the NYLS community at large, you must lend your voices to the fight against systemic oppression. Remember that silence is complicity. Donate time; donate money; educate yourselves, friends, and family; have tough conversations; and challenge your own biases daily. True allyship is a lifelong commitment to anti-racism. This means examining your privilege and using it to help. This means uplifting, amplifying, and acknowledging Black voices and experiences. This means sitting with discomfort and unlearning so much of what society has taught us. Know that making mistakes is only natural as you learn and grow—don’t let it deter you.
We are regularly updating our Instagram (@outlawsnyls) with information, resources, and words of encouragement. We have also decided to attend weekly protests together for the foreseeable future. All are welcome; you do not need to be a member of OutLaws or even an NYLS student to join us. These protests are not typically planned out weeks in advance, but it is a safe bet to assume that there will be some form of regular march, vigil, or rally on Saturday afternoons between Union Square and Washington Square Park, so that is when and where we intend on joining protests. We will post the exact details for each Saturday's events as soon as we are made aware, typically Friday night or Saturday morning, on our Instagram, so be sure to follow us there. If you do not have an Instagram or it is easier to inform you in some other way, please reach out and let us know how you prefer to be updated, and we will be sure to keep you in the loop.
We encourage you to direct any questions to the OutLaws Instagram or directly to the OutLaws email. If any restrictions are preventing you from being able to join us, be it financial, geographical, medical, or otherwise, please reach out, and we would be happy to help make sure your voice is heard alongside us.
OutLaws Executive Board
Drew Krongold, President
Colton Posey, Co-Vice President
Joe Meese, Co-Vice President
Michelle Solomons, Treasurer
Marissa Zanfardino, Secretary
Taylor Dickinson, Academic Chair
James Parker, Social Chair
Message From the New York Law School Law Review
We, the members of the New York Law School Law Review, stand shoulder to shoulder with the Black Lives Matter movement and its fight against injustice and racism. We stand in solidarity with our Black classmates and with all Black people across the United States during this time of mourning and outrage. That systematic oppression, which threatens the lives and well-being of Black people is real, cannot be denied. It is a threat to the very foundation of our democracy and our sense of human decency. It must come to an end, and it must come to an end now.
As future lawyers, we are fully committed to use our knowledge, skills, and passion to ensure that justice is always served, without regard to one’s racial identity. This cannot be achieved if racism remains institutionalized within our courts, government entities, and law enforcement. Even more significantly, this cannot be achieved if racism remains standardized within the very fabric of our society.
“We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust … We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better."
We, too, dissent. We can do better and we shall do better.
Message From the Muslim Law Students Association
MLSA Statement in Support of Racial and Social Justice
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
The NYLS Muslim Law Student Association stands with all who suffer from the injustice caused by white supremacy. #BlackLivesMatter.
What happened to Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Botham Jean, and so many others should never happen to anyone. These were individuals going about their lives as any one of us would have, but they were targeted specifically because of their race.
History, and especially the recent history of violence perpetrated against Black people and other communities of color has shown us that there is so much work that needs to be done to protect our youth, our loved ones, and our nation from racism. We need to see each other as equally deserving of life, respect, and dignity. These murders have shown us once again the realities of our broken political and judicial systems.
MLSA stands with all who have suffered from systematic racism and injustice. We are committed to combating racism within our own communities and other communities of color. MLSA supports the protesters. We hope that they all stay safe and healthy.
We are always here for you. If there is anything we can do to help, please let us know.
Muslim Law Students Association
Message From the Moot Court Association
New York Law School’s Moot Court Association firmly stands against police brutality and fully supports the Black Lives Matter movement. We are deeply saddened by the tragic and inhumane death of George Floyd. Unfortunately, this horrific loss adds to the number of similar injustices that have occurred in our country. The wrongful murder of Black lives has become a constant, and we are outraged at the violence affecting minority communities. We cannot forget the names of the fallen, and we pay homage to those who have lost their lives including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and countless others.
Individuals should never be subject to prejudice based on their race or ethnicity. Democracy fails to serve society as a whole when Black Americans or any other minority group continues to face ongoing discrimination. In a moment of outcry, there have been peaceful protests and calls for police reform in New York, Washington, D.C., throughout the country, and around the world. This is a testament to the fact that systemic racism cannot be tolerated any longer. Enough is enough!
As law students, future attorneys, and advocates, we have the knowledge, means, and resources to affect change. At any point in our careers, we must stand ready to represent and advocate on behalf of those who have suffered unjustly. It is imperative that we move forward with purpose and become the catalysts of change to improve our society for generations to come.
It is not enough for those who are privileged to remain silent. We urge New York Law School’s leadership and our fellow students to take affirmative steps to continue building an atmosphere of empathy and understanding. We stand in solidarity with our Black and minority law students. While these times feel painful and discouraging, it is important to remain optimistic and hopeful for a better world.
As members of the Moot Court Association, our pursuit of excellence in oral and written advocacy has allowed each of us to refine a unique skill-set essential to those who wish to be passionate and persuasive advocates for change. With those tools at the ready, we pledge to do our part to promote equality and combat racial oppression within our school and the legal community.