Published: July 21, 2020

Dear members of the Colorado Law community:

Today, I am announcing a comprehensive new initiative to confront racism and its persistent effects around us, and to advance the representation and genuine welcoming of Black people and other marginalized groups within the University of Colorado Law School community and the legal profession. I join Chancellor DiStefano in acknowledging that we need "to foster a fully anti-racist, diverse, inclusive and welcoming culture for everyone in our campus community" – and that includes the Colorado Law community. My commitment as dean of the law school is to work to that end, in line with the broader campus effort announced by the chancellor last month.

As educators of future lawyers who will have important roles in society that will inevitably bear on issues of equality and racial justice, and with our public service mission, we have a special obligation to work to embed anti-racism in the legal education we provide, and to confront racism and inequality in society in every way we can.

We also have an obligation to be fully inclusive of those from groups that have endured racism and its continuing effects or that are otherwise marginalized. Advancing representation of these groups in legal education and the legal profession is an imperative for justice's sake, as well as for the sake of ensuring a legal education for all our students that includes the diversity of perspectives and experiences present in society, and ensuring a legal profession and justice system that reflect, are responsive to, and have the confidence of all those it serves.

The Anti-Racism and Representation Initiative springs from my renewed commitment—as dean of Colorado Law and personally—to take and promote bold, practical, and effective steps to confront racism and advance greater inclusion. It has nine objectives and related steps, which I invite you to examine below. In developing these objectives, I benefited from conversations with many of you, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni of color. I look forward to further discussion around the objectives and to refining them as we go forward. A dedicated page on our website will report on the progress in implementing the initiative’s objectives.
Several of the objectives will require faculty action to be fully implemented, and I look forward to working with the faculty to build the necessary consensus or support.
Other parts of the initiative will require funds we do not yet have, and I look forward to working with our donors and friends to raise funds dedicated to specific projects within the initiative. Additionally, I am pledging to allocate to the initiative all funds donated over the next year to the Dean's Fund for Excellence. These gifts will support scholarships, efforts to improve the recruitment of and climate for Black students and other students from marginalized groups, and a wide range of programs and actions to address racism and its ongoing effects.
I am mindful that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Desmond Tutu counseled: neutrality and silence in the face of injustice only helps to perpetuate that injustice. I invite you to join me in the important work to confront racism and elevate representation in any way you can.

S. James Anaya
Dean and University Distinguished Professor

University of Colorado Law School Dean’s Anti-Racism and Representation Initiative
An anti-racism agenda

1. Build awareness about racism and its manifestations, as a foundation for a genuinely inclusive environment, for providing a high-level legal education to all our students, and for anti-racist action

  • Generate opportunities for discussion about race in society and its continuing legacies
  • Work to eliminate racially insensitive behavior and microaggressions within the law school community
  • Provide training on
    • Race and cultural competence, and on how to constructively discuss such issues
    • Implicit bias, how it works in relevant decision-making, and how to eliminate it

2. Promote anti-racist pedagogy and curriculum, to equip our students with necessary knowledge about racism in society, the experiences of people of color, racism’s relation to the law, and law’s tools for combating racism

  • Encourage and provide resources for instructors to enhance inclusion of culturally diverse perspectives related to material being taught, and to engage critically with the issues of race and inequality that are imbedded in most courses
  • Establish and seek funding for a chair or professorship on critical race theory or related subject about the role of race in the law and society
  • Building on existing courses, develop a unified curriculum and propose to the faculty a certificate on civil rights and racial justice
  • Propose to the faculty a graduation requirement of completing a course, independent study, or prescribed readings on diversity and race

3. Combat racism and its effects through our public service and community engagement

  • Strengthen support for public service projects of law school clinics and programs that combat racism, including, but not limited to:
    • The Korey Wise Innocence Project to assist wrongly convicted people, who in a significant number of cases were wrongly convicted because of racism in the justice system
    • Programming of the Getches-Wilkinson Center to address environmental racism and climate justice for people of color
    • The Byron White Center’s work to address social justice issues related to racism in democratic processes
    • The Silicon Flatiron Center’s work to advance greater inclusion of people of color in technology law and policy
    • The American Indian Law Program’s project to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the American Indian Law Clinic’s projects to advance redress for historical and ongoing injustices
    • The Immigration and Citizenship Law Program’s work to support immigrants
    • Law clinical work to support immigrants and advance racial justice
  • Sponsor a series of public lectures on racism and the law
  • Establish and seek funding for a lectureship for an annual speaker on a topic related to racism

4. Adopt symbols of inclusion and commitment to anti-racism

  • Promote resolutions by the faculty and staff recognizing the destructive role of racism in legal and other educational institutions historically, committing to combat racism and advance equality as an institution and individually in all opportunity to do so, and committing to continually work toward being a law school that is itself free from the vestiges of racism and inequality
  • With student, staff, and faculty input, work to name law school spaces after, or to include portraits in our spaces of, people whose lives were devoted to combating racism
  • Advance a practice of acknowledging the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute peoples as the original inhabitants of the land on which the law school is located, at the beginning of all law school-sponsored public gatherings

An agenda for increasing representation

5. Review and improve our recruitment of and climate for students from communities that have historically been subjected to racism and are underrepresented in legal education and the legal profession

  • Further develop and formalize a student recruitment plan that identifies Black and other underrepresented undergraduate student populations across the country and methods of engaging them effectively
  • Evaluate our admissions procedures and make necessary adjustments to ensure that they are equitable and conducive to generating greater representation of Black and other students of color
  • Work to secure adequate funding for Leaders in Law and Community (LILAC) and other scholarship programs to enhance access for students from underrepresented groups to a Colorado Law education
  • Develop a summer program to provide admitted students of color and others an introduction to the law and legal education, thereby enhancing their capacity to succeed in law school
  • Develop a program of outreach to high school and undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to build pipelines to law school
  • Work to enhance financial and other support for the Black Law Students Association, the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, the Latinx Law Students Association, and the Native American Law Students Association
  • Enhance academic and other support resources to meet the specific needs of students of color and enhance their capacity for success
  • Promote and sponsor events that educate about and celebrate the cultures, contributions, and aspirations of the diverse communities represented at the law school, and that in doing so generate greater inclusion of students of color in the life and identity of our community

6. Increase the representation of international students, including through our graduate programs and student exchanges

  • Generate greater understanding that the international students at the law school provide opportunities for exposure to different cultural backgrounds and that the exposure enhances cross-cultural competency within our community
  • Develop and fund a scholarship program specific to international students who are from groups that are underrepresented and marginalized in their own countries

7. Update and enhance our faculty and staff hiring, promotion, and mentoring practices, to achieve greater representation and retention of Black people and others from underrepresented groups, and thereby be more inclusive of experiences and perspectives related to race and disadvantage, and with that strengthen our ability to adequately deliver on our educational and public service missions

  • Further develop and formalize strategies and procedures for developing applicant pools inclusive of those from communities that have been subjected to racism and are underrepresented in legal education and the legal profession
  • Ensure that all those involved in employment decisions, including members of appointments committees and faculty voting on hires, complete implicit bias training mandated by the CU Boulder campus
  • Review and ensure that the criteria and methodology for hiring, evaluation, and promotion, both formal and informal, do not discriminate against or disadvantage, either intentionally or in effect, people from underrepresented groups
  • Establish and seek funding for new chairs or professorships that could attract or help retain faculty members from underrepresented groups
  • Strengthen mentoring and professional development practices to better cultivate and retain faculty and staff members from underrepresented groups, and advance for them opportunities for leadership

8. Work to increase representation of people of color in law school events, which will increase the quality and social impact of the events

  • Develop a checklist of steps for organizers of events to ensure that events are welcoming to and attract the participation of people from diverse backgrounds
  • Develop guidance for event organizers to encourage and assist them to be inclusive in selecting speakers and panelists

9. Promote greater representation of people of color in the legal profession, which is required for the profession to reflect and be more responsive to the entirety of the diverse community it serves 

  • Develop and communicate to potential employers expectations and best practices for recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and retaining Black and other students and graduates of color
  • Work to expand and improve legal employer participation in the Colorado Pledge to Diversity, by which legal employers commit to hire students of color and other students from underrepresented backgrounds for the summer after the 1L year
  • Encourage and help guide legal employers’ efforts to develop internships or fellowship programs for students from underrepresented groups
  • Strengthen collaboration with the Center for Legal Inclusiveness and other existing initiatives to advance greater diversity in the legal profession
  • Fund the Career Development Office to support attendance by students of color at job fairs and similar opportunities throughout the country