When Dean Anthony W. Crowell was asked to speak to fellow law deans at a meeting, hosted by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), about how to support students through this election season, the lessons he learned leading New York Law School through the 2016 election were top of mind.
In the days after that election, many students across the political spectrum expressed deep concern about what the results meant for them personally, their communities, and their future as lawyers. Dean Crowell describes those concerns then, and today, as “existential.”
In response, the administration worked with student leaders from the Student Bar Association (SBA), Black Law Students Association (BLSA), First Generation Professionals (FGP), Legal Association for Women (LAW), and other student organizations to organize a forum for the NYLS community.
“It was an amazing opportunity for our community to come together and have an honest, unvarnished conversation with each other,” said Dean Crowell. Hundreds of students attended and stood in line to speak. Women, students of color, immigrants, children of undocumented parents, victims of rape and sexual assault, and many others shared their frustrations and deeply personal testimonials. The collective experience inspired and empowered students to commit to support one another, take meaningful action, and make a difference in the lives of others as future lawyers.
No matter the results, the 2020 election will be another significant moment in our nation’s history, and how we respond as individuals and as a community will have a powerful impact on the future. “I think law students and law school communities have a special role in advancing civil rights, and shaping and facilitating civic engagement, especially ensuring that those who have been historically underrepresented, or disenfranchised, can have their voices heard and benefit from the promise of America. We have unique opportunities to bring people together, capture their attention, and inspire them to be in service of others, protecting the rule of law and advancing our fundamental democratic values.”
An adapted version of Dean Crowell’s address can be read in Inside Higher Ed.