Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action

V-2. Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action

Policy of Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action Plan

A.        Preamble

The University of St. Thomas School of Law (UST Law) is committed to ensuring that its administrators, faculty, staff, and students fully reflect the great diversity of God's creation.

UST Law's commitment to diversity is inseparable from its identity as a Catholic law school. Central to Catholic social teaching is the belief that every human being is made in the image of God and that, reflecting the Trinitarian nature of God, human persons are social beings who thrive in community with others.

These beliefs are reflected in UST Law's mission. UST Law seeks not merely to convey legal knowledge to its students, but to instill in them a deep respect for the dignity of every human person. UST Law seeks to do this not primarily through lectures or books, but by creating a diverse community of administrators, faculty, staff, and students committed to its mission, and by giving those community members sustained and meaningful contact with one another.

For UST Law, then, diversity is not merely a matter of complying with federal laws or accreditation standards, nor even a matter of providing a quality legal education. Rather, a diverse community is essential to UST Law's identity–to its very reason for being.

B.        Policy of Non-Discrimination

UST Law is governed by the non-discrimination policy of its parent university: “the University of St. Thomas does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, affectional preference, disability, age, marital status, or status with regard to public assistance in the employment of faculty or staff, the admission or treatment of students, or in the operation of its educational programs and activities.” UST Law complies with this non-discrimination statement in all of its own activities, and it expects that employers to whom it furnishes assistance of any kind, including facilities for interviewing, do not discriminate on any of these grounds.

The University's commitment to equality of opportunity dates back to its founder, Archbishop John Ireland, who devoted much of his life to battling racism in the United States and in the Catholic Church. Archbishop Irelandregarded racial prejudice as “a detestable violation of both Christian and American principles" and as being “unworthy of human reason." Joseph B. Connors, Journey Toward Fulfillment: A History of the College of St. Thomas 81 (1986). Archbishop Ireland's views have been embraced by his successor bishops. In the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), the Catholic bishops affirmed that, since all persons are “created in God's likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition.” The bishops urged that “every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language, or religion, . . . be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent.”

C.        Affirmative Action Plan

UST Law will not accomplish its mission if it simply commits itself to non-discrimination. Rather, UST Law must affirmatively seek to diversify its community by attracting administrators, faculty, staff, and students with a broad range of life experiences.

Efforts to diversify the UST Law community must focus on those who have historically been underrepresented in the legal profession because of their race or ethnicity. Many groups–including Roman Catholics–have felt the sting of discrimination, but discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity has been particularly pernicious, and its effects have been particularly far-reaching. As the American bishops instructed in Economic Justice for All, their Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, “where the effects of past discrimination persist, society has the obligation to take positive steps to overcome the legacy of injustice. Judiciously administered affirmative action programs in education and employment can be important expressions of the drive for solidarity and participation that is at the heart of true justice.”

The efforts to diversify UST Law will be many and varied, and will evolve over time as UST Law itself evolves. Central to those efforts will be working to increase the number of members of underrepresented groups who are interested in studying law; recruiting to UST Law members of underrepresented groups and others who would diversify the community; creating an atmosphere at UST Law in which differences among members of the community are not simply tolerated, but celebrated; providing academic, financial, personal, spiritual, and other support so that every member of the UST Law community can flourish; and ensuring that all those who leave UST Law are well prepared to enjoy fulfilling and successful careers.

D.        Students

Among the specific steps that UST Law will take to seek a diverse student body are the following:

1.     UST Law will seek to increase the number of minority students who are interested in studying law generally and attending UST Law specifically. It will do so by:

a.   encouraging administrators, faculty, staff, and students to serve as mentors to minority students through such programs as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Minnesota Community College Mentor Program;

b.   building long-term partnerships with at least one K-12 school and at least three undergraduate institutions serving substantial minority populations;

2.     UST Law will offer to provide a full slate of services to the students of these institutions, including providing information and advice about careers in the legal profession, preparing for law school, preparing for and taking the LSAT, navigating the law school admissions process, financial planning for law school, and other issues. UST Law will also offer to assist with mock trial programs, present mock law school classes, and consult individually with minority students who may be interested in a legal career.

a.   encouraging administrators, faculty, staff, and students to participate in public service and other activities–such as Street Law programs–that will bring them into contact with minority students; and

b.   supporting the activities of the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (ACLEO@) and other programs that are intended to increase the number of minority students who are able to attend law school.

3.    UST Law will seek to increase the number of minority students who apply for admission to UST Law. It will do so by:

a.    attending minority recruitment fairs locally and nationally;

b.    sending recruiters to visit institutions with substantial minority populations (such as HBCUs and tribal community colleges);

c.     where feasible, making an effort to speak to a minority student advisor or a representative of a minority student organization at campuses visited by UST recruiters;

d.     sending promotional materials to students who identify themselves as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority group when registering for the LSAT;

e.     hosting open houses for prospective minority applicants;

f.      working with pre-law advisors to identify promising minority students;

g.     authorizing pre-law advisors to waive the application fee for minority students; and

h.     hosting periodic conferences for pre-law advisors who work at institutions with substantial minority populations.

4.    UST Law will seek to increase the number of minority students who decide to enroll at UST Law. It will do so by:

a.     giving substantial weight to the benefits of attracting a diverse class of students in making admissions and financial aid decisions;

b.     attempting to persuade prospective donors to fund endowed scholarships that could be used to attract students who would diversify the student body; and

c.      making certain that at least one administrator or professor and at least one student contacts every minority admittee and invites the admittee to visit campus, to ask questions, and to express concerns about UST Law.

5.    UST Law will seek to assist minority students to achieve academic success. It will do so by:

a.    hiring a Director of Academic Achievement to work with students, including minority students, who are struggling academically;

b.    encouraging and supporting student organizations (e.g., the Black Law Students Association and the Multicultural Law Students Association) that specially address the needs of minority students;

c.     educating faculty on the challenges that minority students confront and on the ways in which faculty can help with those challenges;

d.     encouraging and enabling faculty to give conscious attention in classrooms to the impact that America's history of discrimination has had on legal education and the legal profession;

e.     encouraging contacts and joint endeavors between minority students enrolled at UST Law and minority students enrolled at other law schools (particularly the other law schools located in Minnesota);

f.      establishing strong ties with minority bar associations, and inviting those associations to assist minority students to succeed in law school and to find employment;

g.    making special efforts to recruit minority attorneys to serve as mentors in the UST Law mentor program;

h.    developing programs and other resources to assist minority students in coping with the challenges that they will face inside and outside of the classroom because of their race or ethnicity;

i.     striving to add to the law school administration and faculty people with personal knowledge of the challenges faced by members of racial and ethnic minorities;

j.     inviting members of minority groups who are leaders in the worlds of law, business, education, religion, and other endeavors to speak on campus, to judge moot court competitions, and otherwise to interact with students; and

k.    offering classes such as Employment Discrimination, Immigration Law, Native American Law, and Poverty Law that will likely have special relevance to minority students and that will hopefully inspire UST Law students to do the kind of work that will someday make affirmative action plans unnecessary.

 6.   UST Law will seek to assist minority students successfully to enter the legal profession. It will do so by:

a.    hiring a Director of Academic Achievement to put together a program for those students, including those minority students, who may need extra assistance in preparing for the bar examination;

b.    promoting contacts between minority students and minority lawyers, so that minority students can get advice about the special challenges they may face in finding satisfactory employment;

c.     giving financial and other assistance to minority students who wish to participate in networking activities, such as paying the cost of attending events sponsored by minority bar associations; and

d.     participating in job fairs and other programs designed to bring minority law graduates to the attention of prospective employers.

Although, for the reasons stated above, the major focus of these initiatives will be on increasing representation of racial and ethnic minorities, UST Law will also use these and similar initiatives to achieve broader diversity, such as diversity of sex, age, religion, disability, economic status, sexual orientation, and moral and political beliefs.

E.        Faculty

Among the specific steps that UST Law will take to seek a diverse faculty are the following:

1.    Increasing the number of women and minority faculty members is and will remain one of the highest priorities of the Faculty Appointments Committee.

2.    At the beginning of each academic year, all faculty will be asked to identify potential women and minority faculty candidates through networking, reviews of recent scholarly publications, reviews of lists of women and minority professors, and other means.

3.    The record of any person identified as a potential woman or minority faculty candidate will be reviewed and, if appropriate, the candidate will be contacted by the Dean and/or the chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee.

4.    In deciding whom to invite to interview at the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference and on campus, and in deciding to whom to extend offers of employment, UST Law will apply a broader range of criteria than may customarily be applied and give substantial weight to the benefits of diversifying the faculty. In particular, UST Law will consider, with respect to every open position, whether traditional criteria (such as prestige of law school attended, law school grades, law review membership, and clerkship) are likely to be reliable predictors of success in the position and whether such criteria are acting to exclude women and minority candidates who may hold the position successfully.

F.         Implementation and Monitoring

Each year, the Dean will appoint a member of the administration or faculty to serve as the affirmative action coordinator. The affirmative action coordinator will be responsible for monitoring the implementation of this plan, for evaluating the effectiveness of this plan, and for recommending changes to this plan. On or about July 1 of every year, the affirmative action coordinator will ensure that UST Law is in full compliance with Interpretation 211-2 of the ABA's Standards for Approval of Law Schools.

G.        Individuals With Disabilities

Students qualify for services through the Enhancement Program upon self-disclosure and presentation of appropriate documentation of a learning disability, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), psychiatric disorder, or traumatic brain injury. Qualified students, along with the Enhancement Program staff, work to realize their potential for academic success within the regular university setting. The Enhancement Program staff acknowledges that individuals with documented disabilities have unique learning needs. Reasonable academic accommodations are arranged on an individual basis in accordance with that individual’s disability and with the requirements of a particular course. The Enhancement Program represents an institutional commitment to individual guidance for students to develop the skills necessary to become independent life-long learners.

Adopted by the Law Faculty, June 6, 2002
Placed in catalog, August 6, 2002

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