Law school's faculty unanimously adopts resolution repudiating racism

On Tuesday, July 7, the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School faculty unanimously adopted a resolution during its faculty conference meeting repudiating racism.

The WMU-Cooley Faculty Resolution Repudiating Racism, which is available on the WMU-Cooley Law School website, acknowledges that the nation’s history of racial prejudice and hostility continues to manifest today in the disproportionate incarceration of persons of color and race-based disparities in health, income, political power, wealth, and education; and other forms of structural racism.

“These manifestations of racial injustice breach the promise of equal justice under law and undermine the rule of law itself,” the resolution states. “We, the law school faculty, are a diverse body — yet, on the matter of racism, we speak with one voice.”

In the resolution, WMU-Cooley faculty call for essential systemic changes, such as, conducting peaceful protests and constructive acts to make a meaningful difference toward societal change, clearing the path for more people of color to become lawyers and judges, and fostering trust and understanding between the public and the judicial branch.

“As a collective body, WMU-Cooley faculty recognize the racial injustice against Blacks and all people of color has gone on far too long,” said WMU-Cooley Professor Tonya Krause-Phelan, who serves as chair of the Faculty Conference. “The WMU-Cooley Faculty Resolution Repudiating Racism is a commitment from the law school’s 59 faculty members to elevate implicit-bias training in our curriculum and educate ourselves about disproportionality and racial disparities in the justice system.”

WMU-Cooley faculty resolved to:

• Repudiate racism in all its forms.

• Acknowledge its continuing responsibility, individually and collectively, to identify, challenge, and condemn structural inequity, however it manifests.

• Hold each other accountable for the inward-focused and outward-facing work of dismantling the systems of oppression that perpetuate racial inequities in society and surrounding communities.

• Strive and learn as they teach and work, listening to and amplifying the voices of those who are marginalized.

“As lawyers, scholars and educators, we are committed to calling out racial injustice and ensuring access to justice and upholding the rule of law, which means we must continue to innovate and champion efforts to reform our country’s legal institutions,” Krause-Phelan said. “We encourage every
member of our legal community to reflect on the country’s history of racism and consider how we can work together to eradicate this shameful legacy.”

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