Iowa Law Post Sign

Student Leaders Issue Statements in Solidarity

Thursday, June 11, 2020

This message was originally sent by e-mail to our faculty, staff, and students.

June 11, 2020

Dear Iowa Law students, faculty, and staff,  

Community is a treasured hallmark of Iowa Law. On May 31, Dean Washburn issued this short message to express sympathy and call us to action:  

Since we began confronting COVID-19 on campus, we have emphasized the seriousness with which we take the health and well-being of each of you. The unrest across our nation following the wrongful killing of George Floyd is a stark reminder that COVID-19 is only one of the significant challenges facing our country. At a time when there is so much pain and sadness, it is important to listen and learn from one another. I find some solace in knowing that the College of Law’s mission is organized around the pursuit of justice. Serving justice is an important responsibility. Thus, in addition to listening and learning, it is also up to us to help solve the deep and longstanding problems that give rise to injustice.  

Our DEI Committee and BLSA issued a joint statement on June 1, and our community has quickly responded. At the initiative of our student leaders, other student organizations were invited to amplify the message. Below is a growing collection of statements from our student organizations and their leaders.  We will add more to this page as we receive them.

Because statements alone are not enough, we will focus on concrete actions that serve our community and address injustice.  Our UI Center for Human Rights has already held one program and has organized two upcoming programs around the topic of Racial Equity and Human Rights that will help us continue learning. The next program, Human Rights and the Right to Protest, will be this Friday, June 12 at 3 p.m. (https://uiowa.zoom.us/j/96998433289) and a program on White Privilege will take place on June 17 at 4 p.m. (https://uiowa.zoom.us/j/91590914371). 
 
American Constitution Society 
Dear Iowa Law Community, 

Black Lives Matter. 

The Iowa Law Chapter of the American Constitution Society writes this statement in support of the University of Iowa College of Law Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Black Law Students Association. ACS is committed to the advancement of equality under the law, the protection of our constitutional liberties, and the promotion of justice for all. As future members of the legal profession, it is essential that we speak out against racial injustice in all of its forms and commit ourselves to the work of antiracism. In keeping with this mission, we offer our full support to the leadership of BLSA and the DEI Committee as we work together to further the goal of a more just and inclusive society. 

In solidarity, 
The University of Iowa College of Law Chapter of the American Constitution Society 
Emily Tosoni, Co-President 
Zach Grewe, Co-President 
 
Christian Legal Society
The Christian Legal Society joins the entire Iowa community in condemning racism and violence. We stand in solidarity with Black students, faculty, staff, and community members. As Christians, our faith is founded on the principle of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Too often, we fail to live up to this promise. But this is not an excuse to stop trying; it is a call to action. We must proclaim what we know is true: God loves each of us equally and calls us all to do the same. Racism is a lie to convince us otherwise. We pray not only for God’s forgiveness, but for the forgiveness of those we have wronged in our failures to listen and to speak up in support of people of color. And we pray that as we walk down this road in the fight for justice and equality that we may forge new fellowships and seek greater unity with people whose different perspectives can enlighten and inform our own.

Environmental Law Society 
As Black communities continue to grieve the senseless loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others at the hands of a fundamentally unjust criminal justice system, the Environmental Law Society offers its support to all those calling for an end to institutionalized racial discrimination in Iowa City, throughout the United States, and across the world. We recognize that for many of us, we will never be able to truly comprehend the fear that has plagued and continues to plague generations of Black Americans as a result of a deeply ingrained racism in our society. We hear you, we stand with you, and we are dedicated to listening and advocating for change. 

ELS recognizes that environmental injustice is an immediate problem in the United States as communities of color and low-income Americans are substantially more likely to live in close proximity to sites of major environmental degradation. Such environmental harm imperils the health of these communities and wrongfully precludes them from enjoying equal access to all the benefits associated with a clean and healthy environment. We call for equality across all aspects of life. The march to justice will not end until all communities, regardless of race or socio-economic status, have equal access to clean food, clean air, and clean water. The march to justice will not end until the racism that perpetuates environmental injustice in this country is completely eradicated from our institutions and our culture. 

Moving forward, we hope to be a part of the collective change that needs to happen immediately in order for there to be a more just society for all Americans. We offer our support to our communities, to each other, and most importantly to the people of color who face these problems everyday of their lives. Our hearts are with you. 

- Environmental Law Society 

List of Resources: 

 
Equal Justice Foundation 
On behalf of the Equal Justice Foundation, we write this statement in support of the previous statements made by the Black Law Student Association, Iowa Law’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and the University of Iowa Graduate and Professional Student Government. 

Further, we stand with the Black Law Student Association at Iowa Law. We fully support our past, current, and future Black Iowa Law students. As an organization, we are committed to better educating ourselves, listening, and advocating for a more equitable community and society. 

It is the duty of the Equal Justice Foundation to help support law students interning in the public interest sector. Our goal is to encourage and support young lawyers that will advocate for positive change, help to fight against the systemic racism and violence embedded in our justice system, and help represent all people fairly and justly. 

Current events have proven how much of an impact we will have on shaping the future justice system. We will continue to raise funds to support law students in public interest working to create a more equitable justice system. We will continue to create a safe and inclusive environment at Iowa Law for all Black students, faculty, and staff. We will listen, support, and advocate for all those affected in our communities. 

Black Lives Matter. 

In solidarity, 
Equal Justice Foundation Executive Board 
 
Federalist Society 
The University of Iowa College of Law chapter of the Federalist Society stands with our Black colleagues and the entire Black community in mourning the senseless death of George Floyd.  We join in the strong condemnation of racism, discrimination, and state-sponsored brutality. 

The Federalist Society does not take policy stances. However, this issue goes beyond policy. The failure to provide equal treatment and protection to Black people is a failure of our governments and represents an affront to their fundamental human rights.  

For far too long, the Black community has disproportionately suffered at the hands of the state. It is our duty as Americans to demand an eradication of this directed tyranny. 

For far too long, the lived experiences of Black people have been routinely ignored. It is our responsibility, as members of this community, to honor their individual experiences, to listen to their truths, and to join collectively in speaking out against racism and racial injustices. 

Black lives matter. 

In solidarity, 
Audra Robitaille, Co-President 
Jarred Stindt, Co-President 
Justin Loerts, Vice President 
Jonathan Janssen, Secretary 

First Gen Professionals @ Iowa Law 
The Board Members of First Gen Professionals @ Iowa Law stand in solidarity with BLSA and support the statements recently released by BLSA, The DEI Committee, and GPSG. Our organization understands the importance of challenging the institutional inequality faced by students of color, particularly black students, some who may also identify as firstgen professionals. We also recognize the work that must be put into dismantling the prejudice and complicity within our communities and beyond. FGP is committed to educating our community, and ourselves, on the many ways that we can DO and BE better for our black peers both on and off campus. Black Lives Matter.  

In Solidarity,  
First Gen Professionals @ Iowa Law Executive Board 

Intellectual Property Law Society 
On behalf of the Intellectual Property Law Society, we write this statement in support of the statements made by BLSA, GPSG, and the DEI Committee regarding the recent tragic events in Minneapolis and across the country. We also express our support of those suffering from the consequence of racism and inequality. We are deeply saddened and outraged by the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others lost to racially-motivated violence and police brutality. These incidents, among others, reflect an unacceptable history of systematic racism against African Americans that must come to an end. As future lawyers we have a responsibility to advocate for justice and denounce the racial injustice that has persisted in this country for far too long. We will continue to fight for equality and encourage everyone to join us in this fight. Black Lives Matter. 

In solidarity, 
The University of Iowa College of Law Intellectual Property Law Society 
Lindsay Kriz & Madison Murhammer Colon, Co-Presidents 
Nick Day, Vice President 
Daniel Kieffer, Treasurer 
Ryan Meger, Events Coordinator 

International Law Society 
The Iowa International Law Society supports the statement released by The University of Iowa College of Law Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Black Law Students Association. Black Lives Matter, but we cannot say this statement without acknowledging that the law is not a benign tool. The law can protect societies’ most vulnerable members just as easily as it can exploit them. The world it creates, one that perpetuates racial injustice or one that dismantles systemic racism, will be determined by those who advocate the most effectively. We can only say Black Lives Matter if we also diligently work to dismantle racial injustice in our society and in our own lives. ILS is committed to taking an active role in bringing about the change needed in this country, and around the world. 

International Law Student Association 
To members of the Iowa Law community, 

On behalf of the ILSA Executive Board Members, I am sending this email in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Systemic racism exists all around the world, in all walks of life. We are proud that many people around the globe have stood in solidarity with those in America pushing for change. We respect and stand with all those fighting for justice, and we call on more people from the international student community to join the movement and actively show their support. We hope that the glimmer of progress being made in Minneapolis will inspire governments across the world to reform their own criminal justice systems. 

As our former Director for Global Community Engagement and friend Dromi Etsey stated “All our lives are intertwined. Do to your neighbour what you would want done to you. Be intentional about how you treat others. Resolve to stick with love. Treat all humans with dignity and respect, discounting race. Speak up in your spaces, small or big; at home, at your jobs, with friends and with family. Emulate love towards everyone. After all, we are all humans aren’t we?” 

The abhorrent status quo involving the persecution and oppression of BAME people needs to end on a global scale. Black lives matter. 

In solidarity, 
The Executive Members of ILSA. 
Bryony Whitaker, ILSA President 
Yutian Lei, ILSA Vice-President 

Iowa Law Review 
Dear Iowa Law Community,  

The Iowa Law Review stands in support of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) and the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) in their recent statements responding to systemic racial inequality and the nationwide unrest following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and innumerable other Black lives. The Iowa Law Review unequivocally condemns racism and racially motivated violence. As an academic organization aimed primarily at publishing legal scholarship, we will respond to these events and issues by doing what we do best: engaging in important conversations with, publishing the works of, and listening to legal experts who are speaking out on these issues and ushering in change to our judicial system.  

Sincerely,  

Dana Waterman,  Editor in Chief
On behalf of: the Volume 106 Editorial Board 

Iowa Student Bar Association 
Dear Iowa Law Community,  

Black Lives Matter. As ISBA Co-Presidents, we write this statement in support of BLSA and the Black Lives Matter movement. It is time to listen, learn, advocate for justice, and look out for our peers. Please take the time to read both the statement released jointly by BLSA and the DEI committee, as well as the statement from UISG. There are many educational resources included in these statements. We ask that you join us in reflecting and participating in the fight for racial justice. To our Black students, faculty, staff, and community members: we see you, we hear you, and we stand with you. 

In Solidarity,  
Emily Lavery and Hannah McDevitt, ISBA Co-Presidents 

J. Reuben Clark Law Society
Dear Iowa Law Community:

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society – University of Iowa Chapter believes that the “crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.” In that spirit, we lend our voices to support the Black community across the United States and across the world in saying Black Lives Matter. We mourn with all those who mourn, especially the family of George Floyd and the families of so many others like him, whose deaths were so senseless. We denounce hatred and racism. We believe that every soul has inestimable value, and we yearn for all to live lives of liberty and equality. We also extend our support to and voice our admiration for the BLSA and Iowa Law’s DEI Committee. We similarly stand beside all the other groups and individuals from our community who shared these same sentiments over the last several days. Finally, we unreservedly commit ourselves to the fight against injustice and bigotry, with a firm belief that those who fight for that great cause will someday prevail. 

Thomas Hafen - President
David Banta - President-Elect

Jewish Law Students Association 
We, the Jewish Law Students Association, speak to the victims of systemic racism: We see you; we hear you; and we stand with you. Always. 

In Pirkei Avot, a compilation of ethical teachings of our ancestors, our tradition teaches us Al shlosha d’varim ha olam omeid: – On three pillars the world stands: –al hatorahv’al ha’avodahv’al gemilut chasadim – upon law, upon work, and upon acts of loving kindness. It is said specifically in that order because above all, a society cannot function without a system of laws. However, that system of laws cannot be one that only helps some people but not others. That system of laws cannot be one based on political expediency. That system of laws cannot be one where enforcement and punishment is disproportionately concentrated in some communities but not others. And that system of laws cannot be one where those entrusted to enforce the law abuse their power and are not held accountable for their actions. Instead we are taught that the system of laws must be based on truth and justice. As future lawyers, we have a heightened duty to pursue truth and justice. As the Torah commands us, tzedektzedek tirdof – justice, justice shall you pursue. 

The Second pillar, avodah, tells us that living in a free society requires hard work. It is always easier to ignore a problem rather than face it: to wish it away rather than work to mitigate it. We as a society are called upon to see the struggles that we have collectively wished away for far too long. Work starts with admitting the problem: we have been bystanders, complicit in a system where a black life has been consistently valued less than a nonblack life. This is wrong. Black lives matter. Work also starts with listening to others and opening oneself up to criticism. Rebbe Rashab once taught his students, “cherish criticism, for it can bring you to true heights.” Listening to other people and learning about other perspectives is the only way we can really grow as individuals and as a society. 

The third pillar, gemilut chasadim, can take many forms. Tomorrow, it will mean tikkun olam – repairing the world. Today, it means empathy. Empathy demands looking at a stranger’s face and seeing our own. It demands that we never, ever stand aside allowing a people to be wronged. Most of all, it demands that we recognize the shared insult to our social character when we refuse to acknowledge the suffering of others.  
 
We see symptoms of injustice all around us, most horribly punctuated by the murder of George Floyd. It is only through united action and a sincere desire for change that we can bring true healing and peace to our society. 

Journal of Corporation Law 
The Journal of Corporation Law wants our stance to be clear: Black Lives Matter. We fully support the Black Law Student Association and the DEI Committee, along with the message these organizations recently provided students at the University of Iowa College of Law. 

Here’s what you need to know about law journals: They dedicate countless pages to smart, distinguished leaders who write endlessly about what we, as law students, scholars, and practitioners, have done right, what we’re doing wrong, and what the future should look like. 

The Journal of Corporation Law is taking the same approach for self-improvement. We’re listening and learning from Black students and activists because these leaders have experienced the inequities and oppressive systems we need to dismantle. Our actions are just as important as our words, so we’re looking for ways to improve our journal and community for Black students and other students of color. We know we need more Black students on our board and in our writer classes. We need to publish more Black professors and practitioners. Questions of law are all too often considered without enough input from Black voices. We need to be better, and we will. 

We are an institution dedicated to the written word, so we’ll offer you just a few more. Black Lives Matter, and that’s not the end of it. It’s just the beginning. 

Stacey Murray, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Corporation Law, on the journal’s behalf. 

Journal of Gender, Race & Justice

Dear Iowa Law Community,

In these times, it is essential that we, as an organization devoted to justice and equality, do not stay silent. Black Lives Matter. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless other acts of murder, violence, and terrorism against the black community should spark outrage. We stand with the protests here in Iowa City, across the country, and around the world.

We encourage all allies, ourselves included, to take the time to uplift black voices on this issue and to take a stand. Our unequal society thrives most when we are silent and unaware and JGRJ is committed to bringing those voices to the forefront. We strive to do so at every opportunity. As both future and current members of the legal community, it is our duty to hear those voices and educate ourselves, so that we can better advocate for those who are so often silenced by the legal system.

Hand in hand with outrage, this is a time of great pain and mourning and we encourage care, for yourselves, for your friends, and for your community. Seek out resources where you are if you are in need, or contact JGRJ to see how we can help you access those resources.

Last, we, like many others who have spoken out this week, wanted to include links to the many organizations in need of financial and social support and encourage you to donate if you are able, or uplift their messages if you cannot:

JGRJ stands in solidarity. Black Lives Matter.

In solidarity,

The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice

Moot Court and Trial Advocacy Programs 
The Moot Court Program and the Trial Advocacy Program zealously support the DEI Committee and BLSA’s statement on racism and inequality. Both the Moot Court and Trial Advocacy programs are centered on helping students become better trial and appellate lawyers, but these programs cannot be successful until we recognize the systemic problems in our criminal justice system and stand up against racism, hatred, and injustice. We take our duty to produce thoughtful and productive advocates seriously and recognize the huge role advocacy plays in this country’s broken justice system. Black people are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites and are two and a half times more likely to be killed by law enforcement. As a result, trial and appellate lawyers are desperately needed to combat police brutality and the mass incarceration of black people. As future lawyers, each and every one of us has benefitted from privilege, whether that’s privilege based on race, gender, or socio-economic status. Now, more than ever, we must use our privilege to fight against a system of oppression. Accordingly, and because Black Lives Matter, we are taking active steps to create trial and appellate advocacy programs that meaningfully consider race, justice, and diversity. We are dedicated to creating future lawyers who will stand up to racism and fight it head on inside and outside of the courtroom. In keeping the momentum, we encourage everyone to read the DEI Committee and BLSA’s statement and listen to the voices of our Black students, faculty, and community. 

Kayla Boyd 
Director- Trial Advocacy Board 
Administrative Director- Moot Court Board 

Apurva Kunte 
Competitions Coordinator -Trial Advocacy Board 
Executive Director- Moot Court Board 

Organization of Women Law Students and Staff 
On behalf of the Organization of Women Law Students and Staff, we stand in support with our students, faculty, staff, and community members who are advocating against racial violence. Black Americans face unparalleled danger in simply walking outside, driving a car, or shopping for groceries. We recognize the fear and pain that many members of our community feel on a daily basis due to years of racial oppression. As law students, faculty, and staff, we have a role to play in dismantling systemic racism to build a better community for all.  
 
OWLSS plans to host programming that encourages transparent conversations about the prejudice that our students, faculty, and alumni experience in their personal and professional lives. We will continue to strive to listen, support, and serve as allies for fellow student organizations and groups such as the Black Law Students Association and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. We stand in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement with all who advocate against racial injustice.  
 
In solidarity,  
The Organization of Women Law Students and Staff (OWLSS) Executive Team 
 
OutLaws 
To the Iowa Law and Hawkeye Community, 

Black Lives Matter. OutLaws writes this statement to stand in support of the statement by the Black Law Students Association and Iowa Law's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and with those suffering from the systemic and deadly impact of racism, and its strategic objective of white supremacy, embedded into the American experience. Silence is not an option, if you do not speak up against oppression, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. 

Just this year, we have heard George Floyd beg to breathe, seen the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery, felt the pain in the voices of Breonna Taylor’s family, and heard Tony McDade be gunned down without warning by police. Their names are the latest added to a long list of victims stretching back to 1619 in Jamestown when the first enslaved people were taken here. We have watched people rise up and cry for justice for these names across the globe from Germany, to Chicago, to right here in Iowa City and have seen the police respond with guns and chemical weapons. 
Police brutality is all too familiar to the LGBT+ community, particularly violence against black transgender women. We celebrate Pride during this month of June, to honor and remember the Stonewall riots, a response to over-policing of LGBT+ spaces like the Stonewall Inn in New York and Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco. These riots and protests were organized and led by black trans women, lesbians, and drag queens like Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major, and Stormé DeLarverie. These women fought against police brutality and faced incredible violence in order to make this country a safer place for LGBT+ people. We owe the progress we have made in civil rights to these women. We owe Pride, marriage equality, and the protections that the LGBT+ people have secured to these women. But these protections mean nothing when we do not stand with more than one million Black members of our community. 

In order to make real change, we each individually have to call out racism and injustice when we see it, and that is why we now call out the racism in our own community. Black trans women have a murder rate more than seven times as high as that of the general population and too often their loss is ignored by the larger LGBT+ community. Since the start of 2020, two black trans women have been murdered: Monika Diamond and Nina Pop. Two weeks ago, a black trans man, Tony McDade, was shot and killed by police in Florida in the middle of the day without warning. Tony’s story went largely unreported and he was misgendered by media outlets that did report his death. We have become silent on the ongoing HIV epidemic still plaguing our community, with one in every two black queer men projected to contract HIV. The larger LGBT+ community would not be so willfully ignorant if the contraction rate was one in every two white queer men. Being queer does not absolve those of us who are not black of our privilege. 

As members of the legal community, each of us has a role to play in fighting injustice, both by calling out racism when we see it and recognizing that the legal system in its current form perpetuates systemic racism. Knowledge of the law comes with the responsibility to help positively change it. Right now in law school, we can educate ourselves about the systemic injustices in the legal system, we can donate to and volunteer for local organizations working for change, and we can take a closer look at our everyday actions by speaking up against microaggressions and injustice daily. Whether you plan on working in public interest, big law, or in-house, you can make a difference. We can work together to stop qualified immunity for police officers, establish mechanisms for independent investigations and prosecutions, as well as become legal observers to protect protestors. Lawyers play a special role in society and we all have the responsibility to recognize that and be a force in the fight against injustice in the law. 

We have included links to some funds/petitions so you can take action now. Even if you are unable to to physically protest, you can still participate and make your voice heard! 


We join to say Black Lives Matter and commit ourselves to the work those words require. 

Kate Thorne, Treasurer 
Jacob Bennington, Co-President 
Jonathan Molony, Co-President 

Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems 
Now, more than ever, is the time for legal practitioners to lead honest discourse and advocate for substantial change in our nation. In the months and years to come TLCP will continue the conversation and support our community in its fight for racial justice. 

We stand with our Black colleagues and students in the fight against systemic racism, police brutality, and injustice in all its forms. We support you today, and every day. 

-Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems