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UCLA student law group seeks improved campus climate

By Fiona Kirby

Feb. 25, 2014 12:32 a.m.

The UCLA Black Law Students Association met with the law school dean Monday about possible ways to improve campus climate for students of color.

Students in the association discussed a letter they drafted to Law School Dean Rachel Moran and a petition that they launched on Friday.

The petition, which had almost 580 supporters as of Monday night, asked the school to create a dean of diversity position, centralize the way that students submit grievances and require diversity training for first-year law students and professors, among other suggestions.

Alexis Gardner, a UCLA law student, said Moran did not agree to carry out any of the demands they specifically put forward in the petition. Gardner attended Monday’s meeting as a representative for first-year law students in the Black Law Students Association.

“Overall I’m feeling dissatisfied and unhappy with how it turned out. She played her political part in meeting with us, but she didn’t agree to do anything,” Gardner said.

In a formal statement released after the meeting, Moran said the law school is already working to promote diversity and racial tolerance through workshops, curricular reform and administrative restructuring.

“Today’s meeting is the start, not the conclusion, of a conversation that is taking place not only at the law school, but throughout the university community,” Moran said in the statement.

Moran said earlier this month that she understood student frustration about campus climate. Many students have complained about the low number of black students at UCLA and said it fosters an unwelcoming campus climate.

The group created the petition to focus on implementing solutions rather than announcing the problem, said Jasmine Phillips, a UCLA law student and the cultural awareness chair of the law association.

Gardner helped write and signed the petition because the requests made in it are already in place at other schools and would help to create a better campus climate, she said.

Gardner said she has personally experienced discrimination at UCLA. On Wednesday, she found a hate letter in her campus mailbox that called her a “sensitive N-word.”

Since a video was released earlier this month detailing issues black students said they faced at UCLA Law School, Gardner said her perceptions of campus climate changed.

The law school administration is working to have more constructive conversations with students, Moran said in a statement.

Compiled by Fiona Kirby, Bruin reporter.

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