The Women’s Bar Association of Illinois has been made aware of the ongoing situation at the University of Illinois at Chicago John Marshall Law School (UIC-JMLS) regarding an exam question that included euphemisms for vile expressions used to denigrate Black people and women. The WBAI was also made aware of the subsequent troubling student interactions with the examining Professor and the UIC-JMLS administration which has caused students of color to feel distressed, ignored and summarily dismissed. The WBAI unequivocally adds their support and stands in with the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), all students who were impacted by these triggering events, the Black Women Lawyers’ Association, and the other local bar associations working to support these students. Everyone is entitled to an educational environment that is free from racial and sexual harassment. Offensive, hate-based language has no place in any setting, let alone an academic one.
The WBAI stands united with the Black Women Lawyers’ Association and supports their call for an independent, third party investigation into the events that transpired and for action to be taken to ensure accountability for these events. The WBAI also supports the call for implementing mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion (“DEI”) training for UIC-JMLS students, professors, administration, and other personnel to educate all members of the law school community on important diversity measures and biases that are sadly still pervasive in academia, the legal field, and throughout the whole of society.
Consistent with our mission, the WBAI stands ready to support and protect members of our legal community, including the brave UIC-JMLS BLSA law students who have risen up to call attention to this inequity and injustice. The WBAI supports the call for these students to be protected from any form of retaliation related to this matter.
The WBAI calls on our legal community as a whole to stand against this injustice and encourages them to recommit to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in our profession and the educational system. Until people of color and women are fairly represented in our classrooms and our courtrooms, no justice will truly be served.
The WBAI pledges to continue to identify, call out, and support the fight against racism and racist behavior. Our society can never be equal until everyone is free from harassment and the institutional racism that allows it to remain rampant. As lawyers we have a heightened obligation to fight to ensure tangible steps towards equity are taken, and as such we stand in solidarity with our friends, colleagues, and future colleagues.
The Press Release and Statement Issued by the BWLA, BMLA, CCBA and HLAI can be found here.