Dear UW Law Students, Staff, and Faculty,

The jury has now issued its verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd, finding the defendant guilty on all counts, including murder. I hope that this verdict brings some degree of solace to Mr. Floyd’s loved ones and a ray of hope to those who believe that our legal system must ensure accountability and address racial injustice.

There can be no doubt that we have enormous work to do in redressing persistent racial injustices in the United States. During the trial, a police officer in a nearby community shot and killed Daunte Wright, another unarmed Black man. This follows the shooting of Jacob Blake by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin at the start of this academic year and the killing of Breonna Taylor in 2020. And the list of names goes on and on.

These events are beyond saddening. They are horrifying. They are an affront to our constitutional commitment to equal justice. And for our BIPOC students, they are especially painful.  Unjustified official violence toward Black people must end. One more death is too many. 

For us lawyers, these events should stir a special sense of moral outrage and a commitment to make things better. I share the frustration at our country’s failure to redress the systemic racism and violence toward people of color that we see over and over again.

Our Law School community offers our sympathy to the loved ones of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, and all other people of color who have been victims of unjustified violence under color of state law. At the core of our mission at UW Law is to prepare our students to serve the interests of justice. That most emphatically includes racial justice.

You may have seen Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s message yesterday and the one today on how we as a University can move forward toward a more equitable future. It is our obligation as lawyers, law professors, and law students to advocate for better laws and structural changes that will promote racial equity. Here at the Law School, we’ll spend some time thinking about what we can do to better prepare our students to be change-makers. We’d value your input.

We also have a responsibility to look inward, by considering what more we can do to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion – including racial justice –   within our community. Toward that end, we’ve hosted a series of events on racial justice this year and conducted anti-racism trainings for students and faculty. For the coming academic year, the Law School plans to hire a new Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. A top priority is to instill a genuine sense of belonging among all our students, affirming the diversity of identities, backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives they bring with them.

This has been an exceptionally difficult year, as we have confronted a global pandemic and painful reminders of how far our nation must go to realize our constitutional commitment to equal justice. Please take care of each another. If you find yourself in need of support, you can contact any faculty or staff at the Law School, or consult the resource list at the bottom of this email.

Dan

 

Campus resources for students, faculty, and staff:

  • Law School Counselor John Schneider is available for individual counseling appointments for students. Make an appointment by emailing john.schneider@wisc.edu.
  • Students may seek support at University Health Services (UHS) Mental Health Services. Drop-in appointments are available every day via phone, or schedule an Access Appointment via phone or MyUHS to speak with a counselor and get connected to support services.
  • Students who need immediate assistance any time of day, call the UHS Crisis Line 24/7 at (608) 265-5600, option 9.
  • UHS hosts weekly drop-in counseling through Let’s Talk. Every Thursday from 2:00-4:00 pm there’s a dedicated BIPOC space.
  • If you have questions or concerns related to missing a class or exam, please contact Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Emily Kite (emily.kite@wisc.edu).
  • Faculty and staff who like to talk to someone may reach out to the Employee Assistance Office at (608) 263-2987 or visit www.eao.wisc.edu.
  • Resources for Black community members
  • Resources to support our APIDA community
  • Resources to answer the call to action

Submitted by Law School News on April 21, 2021

This article appears in the categories: Articles, Faculty

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