Vermont Law School (VLS) today released an anti-racism statement that recognizes that “the law has too often neglected Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples, as well as members of the LGBTQ community, and has been used to legitimize the inhumane treatment of marginalized groups within these communities.”
The statement was drafted by the Office of Student Affairs and Diversity at VLS with input from the school’s student bar association and Diversity Committee, and approved by separate votes of the committee, administration, SBA, staff, and faculty. It commits the school to “fight against inherent ignorance, intolerance, racial and social injustice, through teaching and scholarship, research and practice, open discussion, and public events.”
The entire statement can be viewed here.
Seeking input, and ultimately approval, from various campus constituencies was made a priority by Interim President and Dean Beth McCormack when she was appointed to the post in late January.
“Vermont Law School is committed to creating a world in which opportunities, equality and inclusion are not dependent on a person’s skin color, sexual preferences, identity, or zip code,” said McCormack. “As a school that trains the next generation of attorneys, public servants, non-profit leaders, and policymakers, it’s important that we take that stand against racism and the enormous damage it inflicts on our society.”
At the same meeting earlier this month at which the faculty approved the statement, it also approved the latest version of the school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report and Strategic Plan. The report was first created in 1998 to educate the VLS community of the importance, purpose, goals and progress of the law school’s diversity efforts.
“From historic protests against police brutality to a global pandemic that has shone a bright light on inequality, it’s never been more important for institutions of higher education like VLS to explicitly state what they hope to accomplish and how they will get there,” said Shirley Jefferson, VLS’s associate dean for student affairs and diversity, and an associate professor of law. “This report plants a flag in the ground and challenges us to live up to it.”
Viewable online at vermontlaw.edu/diversity, the plan outlines VLS’s six diversity goals, the activities and efforts it has or will undertake associated with those goals, and the progress toward achieving them. It also includes comprehensive statistics showing diversity trends such as the number of female students, students of color, students self-identified as LGBT, and first generation graduate school students.
The report mostly covers past activities from August 2017 to August 2020, as well as future plans for the next three years. Each year during the report’s three-year lifespan, an annual report will update the VLS community on its progress.