For almost 100 years, animated by the Vincentian question, What must be done?, St. John’s Law has opened its doors to a wonderfully diverse student body.
Today, as one of the best law schools in New York City, with one of the highest graduate employment rates in the nation, we remain committed to being an engine of opportunity, particularly for the most traditionally underrepresented groups in the legal profession.
With that firm commitment, we’re very pleased to announce the funding of two new support opportunities for students of color:Theodore T. Jones, Jr. Fellowship: Established in memory of Hon. Theodore T. Jones, Jr. ’72, ’07HON, who built a thriving legal career that took him to the heights of public service on the New York State Court of Appeals, this fellowship provides black students with support over and above their other merit scholarship, including: books; a laptop computer and printer; a summer preparatory program; a 1L paid internship; funding to attend the annual National Black Law Student Association annual conference; and special access to alumni and academic support.Aequitas Scholarship: Named after the Latin concept of justice and fairness and the root of the modern English word “equity,” this partial scholarship is awarded to incoming students of color.
This new funding is in addition to the support that our longtime full-tuition Ron Brown Scholarship Program offers students who have overcome economic, social, or educational disadvantage as well as the various endowed scholarships that alumni and friends have established to build and sustain a more diverse and inclusive St. John’s Law.
Putting our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion further into action, we recently welcomed Oliver Colbert to our full-time Admissions Office team as our first-ever Associate Director of Admissions & Diversity Initiatives.
A native of New York City born and raised in Brooklyn, Oliver currently resides in St. John’s home borough of Queens. He earned his undergraduate degree in Journalism from SUNY Buffalo State and a master’s in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University. As a college administrator for six years, Oliver’s work focused on supporting and developing students, specifically students of color from marginalized communities.
His favorite quote, from American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist James Baldwin, nicely captures the importance of Oliver’s work at St. John’s Law:
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Want to learn more about St. John's Law? Please email Oliver at [email protected]
This past June, as protesters across the country demanded justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black Americans, close to 300 members of the St. John’s Law community came together for a virtual Dialogue Day organized by the student-run Coalition for Social Justice and Black Law Students Association, along with co-sponsoring student organizations and our Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights.
The program’s theme was clear and direct: No More Talking, What Are We Going to Do?
As Dean Michael A. Simons shared widely before and afterwards, that milestone event was a call to action in solidarity with our Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni. It was also a catalyzing moment for St. John’s Law, as we commit to being an ardently and actively anti-racist institution and a community that embraces, prioritizes, and reflects the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Read Dean Simons’ June 1, 2020 message
Read Dean Simons’ June 5, 2020 message
The Law School’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is reflected in, and carried by, a range of student-run affinity organizations. Students also support diversity, equity, and inclusion at St. John’s Law as members of the Dean’s Advisory Council.
Student Affinity Groups
Dean's Advisory Council Student Members
During the June Dialogue Day, the student affinity groups and a number of other student organizations presented their commitments—events, petitions, fundraisers, committees, speakers, outreach, research, and more—to making St. John’s Law an actively anti-racist institution and combatting injustice in its many forms. Their pledges of support are now the pillars of an action plan that the Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ) is coordinating and memorializing in a series of publications:The Contract
In early September, the CSJ published the St. John's University School of Law Student Organization Commitment to Racial Justice and Solidarity with Marginalized Communities (the Contract). It documents participating student organizations’ commitments to a general set of obligations, including organizational changes. The Contract also shares each organization’s pledge to individual, specifically tailored, year-to-year obligations.
Read the Contract
In late September, the CSJ launched its new website, SjuCsj.org. With robust features, including a blog and a forum for dialogue, the site furthers the CSJ’s mission of providing an open and inclusive platform and outlet for St. John’s Law students and others to learn about, and advocate for, the broad spectrum of social justice issues. It took only three months for the project to go from concept to reality.
Read about the site launch
The Full Report
For its next document project, the CSJ will publish a report on the evolution of student organization activity from the June Dialogue Day to the start of the Fall 2020 semester (the Full Report). Among other things, the Report encapsulates the moment that was June for the Law School community, reflecting on the work done thus far, projecting what will come next, commenting on what still needs to improve, and providing a model for other law schools to follow.
We’re proud to have a faculty that reflects our diverse and inclusive Law School community. They are dedicated educators whose doors are always open to our students. And they are notable legal scholars and clinicians who are deeply committed to exploring and addressing issues of real-world significance and impact, including today’s most pressing social justice, racial justice, civil rights, and human rights matters.Our Diverse Faculty
Faculty Diversity Committee
Several years ago, the Law School launched a bold strategic plan anchored by twin goals of academic excellence and student achievement. An important part of that plan is adding new talent to the faculty.
In the last four years, we welcomed seven full-time faculty members:
And, now, we’re delighted that Adrián E. Alvarez, Seema Mohapatra, and Marissa Jackson Sow are joining our full-time faculty.Read all about our newest faculty members.
Our Career Development Office (CDO) counselors are there from day one to help students identify and pursue right-fit opportunities. CDO hosts a variety of programs designed to increase employment opportunities for students from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities and backgrounds.
There are a number of diversity and inclusion internships and fellowships available to St. John’s Law students, including offerings from the:
And our students are often selected to participate in exclusive internships and externships in corporate, public interest, and governmental positions.
Throughout the year, we host a wide array of events and programs that support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the St. John's Law community and that further our commitment to being an anti-racist institution. Here's just a sampling of those offerings:
Faculty Workshop Series
Our annual Hon. Edward D. Re Faculty Workshop Series brings scholars from across the country together to discuss their current research and receive feedback on their works-in-progress from our faculty.
This year’s Workshop Series features scholarship related to race, racism, and anti-racism across a host of domains. The presenters will focus on racial justice and racial empowerment issues—particularly those most affecting, experienced by, or relevant to Black people in America.
First Friday Book Club
Led by Professors Cheryl L. Wade and Sheldon A. Evans, our new First Friday Book Club challenges preconceived notions and inspires newfound depth in understanding as participants discuss books by African American authors that explore some of the most impactful issues of our time, including:
With unique insight into the racial caste system suffered in America and across the African Diaspora, and through their literary prowess, the authors express messages to the Black community and to those in power that seek to understand the Black experience and how to change it.
We’re proud to share stories reflecting the Law School’s longtime and deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. You’ll find them on our website, in our official social media feeds, in our print magazine, and in a special digital compilation, Diverse Voices @ St. John’s Law.
Website Read our stories online
Diverse Voices @ St. John’s LawRead the compilation
St. John’s Law Magazine
For the Fall 2020 issue of St. John’s Law magazine, we’re pleased to present a special digital edition:
The Anti-Racism Essay Project
Written by students, alumni, faculty, and staff, the 20 essays presented here offer a curated collection of perspectives that, individually and collectively, aim to move our Law School, our community, and our profession forward in solidarity as we work to be actively anti-racist and to combat injustice in all its forms.
This special digital issue of the magazine has a permanent home at stjohnslawseeinfra.com, our online hub for sharing news and stories from St. John's Law.
Read past issues of St. John's Law Magazine