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MSU College of Law Student Bar Association, Black Law Students Association condemn racism after classroom incident

February 19, 2024
<p>MSU College of Law on Shaw Lane on Feb. 12, 2024.</p>

MSU College of Law on Shaw Lane on Feb. 12, 2024.

Photo by Demonte Thomas | The State News

The MSU College of Law Student Bar Association (SBA) passed a resolution giving its unwavering support to the MSU Black Law Students Association (BLSA) after a Jan. 11 racial incident at the College of Law. 

"The SBA is committed to fostering academic and social interaction among students, faculty, alumni, administration, and the board of trustees of the College of Law, and to promoting the welfare of the College of Law, and to promoting diversity, professionalism, and service within the legal community," the resolution, which was passed unanimously on Feb. 5, reads.

The resolution, which is "in support of unity, respect, and positive change," states that it is being communicated to the entire MSU College of Law community and the Board of Trustees as a "testament to SBA's dedication to creating a diverse, inclusive, and respectful academic community."

According to a statement the BLSA issued via social media on Feb. 1, a white student used a racial slur in an 80-person classroom with six Black students present on Jan. 11, causing questions and concerns to arise on the lack of response from the college. 

"As part of our curriculum, Black law students often read 'good law' that seeks to dehumanize our existence," the statement reads. "In these cases, law schools expect us to remain objective and professional."

The Jan. 11 incident comes after a number of racial incidents have occurred on campus towards Black students and other marginalized students since the fall semester. 

"Black students, like every student at Michigan State University College of Law, should be able to learn in a welcoming and safe environment," the statement reads.

The statement says that instead of addressing the slur, Black students were dismissed and were expected to stay engaged in the class without the acknowledgement of the slur or its historical impact to Black Americans. 

"The Black Law Students Association does not condone this behavior and expects more from our administration and peers," the statement reads. "As a community, we should be held to a higher standard to speak out against the use of discriminatory language and racism in the classroom."

Michael Sant'Ambrogio, interim dean of the College of Law, issued a statement in response to BLSA's statement.

"The College of Law was deeply saddened by the incident on January 11 and the hurt it caused," Sant'Ambrogio said in the statement.

Sant'Ambrogio continued, stating that the College of Law's curriculum includes training on bias, cross-cultural competency and racism, with a program that is a part of the orientation for each first-year student.

"We now are working with BLSA on a number of additional initiatives to foster a thriving academic community with a strong culture of safety, equity, mutual respect, inclusion, trust, and kindness," Sant'Ambrogio said. "Our students’ well-being is, and will always be, our top priority."

The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication. The BLSA was unable to comment at the time of publication.

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