Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

For almost 100 years, animated by the Vincentian question, What must be done?, St. John’s Law has opened its doors to a wonderfully diverse student body.

Today, as one of the best law schools in New York City, with one of the highest graduate employment rates in the nation, we remain committed to being an engine of opportunity, particularly for the most traditionally underrepresented groups in the legal profession.

March 26, 2021

A message from Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C.M., Executive Vice President for Mission

For Christians throughout the world Holy Week is about to begin. It is a time to reflect on Jesus’ life of rejection and acceptance; suffering and blessing; death and rising. He gave his life for us to experience and wholeheartedly share God’s love and mercy. For us to be true to who we are, we must embrace all members of the University community without exception. With this in mind, the University affirms its continued support for the LGBTQ+ community.

One of the ways we wish to publicly show our support is through the signing of a statement made by a group of Catholic Bishops affirming the LGBTQ+ community. The statement declares that “All people of goodwill should help, support, and defend LGBTQ+ youth; who attempt suicide at much higher rates than their straight counterparts; who are often homeless because of families who reject them; who are rejected, bullied, and harassed; and who are the target of violent acts at alarming rates.” It tells LGBTQ+ community members “we stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you. Know that God created you, God loves you, and God is on your side.” St. John’s University will add its name to the list of the statement signers

God’s gift to us is love, a love of acceptance, blessing and rising to new life. It is a love that readily supports the LGBTQ+ community and leads to human fulfillment. In his encyclical, Fratelli Tuti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship, Pope Francis invites us to reflect on love and reminds us that “all of us, as believers, need to recognize that love takes first place: love must never be put at risk, and the greatest danger lies in failing to love.” Our Vincentian tradition also calls us to love and raise up the God-given dignity of all. We will continue to follow the spirit of our tradition in all that we do.

For LGBTQ+ community members at St. John’s and beyond, we respect you, we love you, and we are with you.

From the Dean

This past June, as protesters across the country demanded justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black Americans, close to 300 members of the St. John’s Law community came together for a virtual Dialogue Day organized by the student-run Coalition for Social Justice and Black Law Students Association, along with co-sponsoring student organizations and our Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights.

The program’s theme was clear and direct: No More Talking, What Are We Going to Do?

As Dean Michael A. Simons shared widely before and afterwards, that milestone event was a call to action in solidarity with our Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni. It was also a catalyzing moment for St. John’s Law, as we commit to being an ardently and actively anti-racist institution and a community that embraces, prioritizes, and reflects the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Read Dean Simons’ June 1, 2020 message

Read Dean Simons’ June 5, 2020 message

More recently, in the wake of escalating, racism-fueled violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide, Dean Simons shared a message of solidarity in support of the Law School’s extended AAPI community, reaffirming our deep and unwavering commitment to calling out, and standing against, racism and intolerance in their many forms.

Read Dean Simons’ March 11, 2021 message

Commitment in Action: Welcome Oliver Colbert!

Oliver Colbert

Putting our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion further into action, we recently welcomed Oliver Colbert to our full-time Admissions Office team as our first-ever Associate Director of Admissions & Diversity Initiatives.

A native of New York City born and raised in Brooklyn, Oliver currently resides in St. John’s home borough of Queens. He earned his undergraduate degree in Journalism from SUNY Buffalo State and a master’s in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University. As a college administrator for six years, Oliver’s work focused on supporting and developing students, specifically students of color from marginalized communities.

His favorite quote, from American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist James Baldwin, nicely captures the importance of Oliver’s work at St. John’s Law:

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Oliver hosted an event for future lawyers of color in January 2021. You can view highlights in this video.

Want to learn more about diversity at St. John’s Law? Please email Oliver at colberto@stjohns.edu.

Ashleigh Kashimawo - Law School

Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

St. John’s Law is dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion and is committed to institutionalizing practices of inclusive excellence to ensure that we welcome and celebrate the intrinsic worth of all members of our community.

Ashleigh Georgia Kashimawo
Interim Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Director for Public Interest Programming

Students Take the Lead

Student Groups
The Law School’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is reflected in, and carried by, a range of student-run affinity groups. Students also support diversity, equity, and inclusion at St. John’s Law as members of the Dean’s Advisory Council.

Law School Affinity Groups

Student Shared Identity Groups

Dean’s Advisory Council Student Members

During the June Dialogue Day, the student affinity groups and a number of other student organizations presented their commitments—events, petitions, fundraisers, committees, speakers, outreach, research, and more—to making St. John’s Law an actively anti-racist institution and combatting injustice in its many forms. Their pledges of support are now the pillars of an action plan that the Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ) is coordinating and memorializing in a series of publications:

The Contract
In early September, the CSJ published the St. John’s University School of Law Student Organization Commitment to Racial Justice and Solidarity with Marginalized Communities (the Contract). It documents participating student organizations’ commitments to a general set of obligations, including organizational changes. The Contract also shares each organization’s pledge to individual, specifically tailored, year-to-year obligations.

Read the Contract

In late September, the CSJ launched its new website, SjuCsj.org. With robust features, including a blog and a forum for dialogue, the site furthers the CSJ’s mission of providing an open and inclusive platform and outlet for St. John’s Law students and others to learn about, and advocate for, the broad spectrum of social justice issues. It took only three months for the project to go from concept to reality.

Read about the site launch

The Full Report
For its next document project, in December 2020, the CSJ published a report on the evolution of student organization activity from the June Dialogue Day to the start of the Fall 2020 semester (the Full Report). Among other things, the Report encapsulates the moment that was June for the Law School community, reflecting on the work done thus far, projecting what will come next, commenting on what still needs to improve, and providing a model for other law schools to follow.

Read the Full Report

Our Faculty

We’re proud to have a faculty that reflects our diverse and inclusive Law School community. They are dedicated educators whose doors are always open to our students. And they are notable legal scholars and clinicians who are deeply committed to exploring and addressing issues of real-world significance and impact, including today’s most pressing social justice, racial justice, civil rights, and human rights matters.

Our Diverse Faculty

Faculty Diversity Committee

Several years ago, the Law School launched a bold strategic plan anchored by twin goals of academic excellence and student achievement. An important part of that plan is adding new talent to the faculty.

Pictures of diverse law school professors.

In the last four years, we welcomed seven full-time faculty members:

And, now, we’re delighted that Marissa Jackson Sow will joining our full-time faculty.

Read all about our newest faculty members.

Career Development

Our Career Development Office (CDO) counselors are there from day one to help students identify and pursue right-fit opportunities. CDO hosts a variety of programs designed to increase employment opportunities for students from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities and backgrounds. 

There are a number of diversity and inclusion internships and fellowships available to St. John’s Law students, including offerings from the:

  • New York City Bar Association
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Long Island Hispanic Bar Association
  • Amistad Bar Association

And our students are often selected to participate in exclusive internships and externships in corporate, public interest, and governmental positions. 

Events & Programs

Throughout the year, we host a wide array of events and programs that support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the St. John’s Law community and that further our commitment to being an anti-racist institution. Here’s just a sampling of those offerings:

Faculty Workshop Series
Our annual Hon. Edward D. Re Faculty Workshop Series brings scholars from across the country together to discuss their current research and receive feedback on their works-in-progress from our faculty. 

This year’s Workshop Series features scholarship related to race, racism, and anti-racism across a host of domains. The presenters will focus on racial justice and racial empowerment issues—particularly those most affecting, experienced by, or relevant to Black people in America.

Intellectual Property Colloquium
The 2021 Intellectual Property Colloquium will focus on the interaction of intellectual property (IP) law and issues of racial, gender, economic, and social justice. An annual course offering, the IP Colloquium explores doctrinal, theoretical, and policy issues. Students hone their critical and analytical skills through deep engagement with leading legal scholarship in IP.

First Friday Book Club
Led by Professors Cheryl L. Wade  and Sheldon A. Evans, our new First Friday Book Club challenges preconceived notions and inspires newfound depth in understanding as participants discuss books by African American authors that explore some of the most impactful issues of our time, including:

  • Racial justice 
  • Racial awareness 
  • Social change 

With unique insight into the racial caste system suffered in America and across the African Diaspora, and through their literary prowess, the authors express messages to the Black community and to those in power that seek to understand the Black experience and how to change it. 

Our Stories

We’re proud to share stories reflecting the Law School’s longtime and deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. You’ll find them on our website, in our official social media feeds, in our print magazine, and in a special digital compilation, Diverse Voices @ St. John’s Law.

Read our stories online

Social Media

Diverse Voices @ St. John’s Law
Read the compilation

St. John’s Law Magazine
For the Fall 2020 issue of St. John’s Law magazine, we’re pleased to present a special digital edition:

The Anti-Racism Essay Project

Written by students, alumni, faculty, and staff, the 20 essays presented here offer a curated collection of perspectives that, individually and collectively, aim to move our Law School, our community, and our profession forward in solidarity as we work to be actively anti-racist and to combat injustice in all its forms.

This special digital issue of the magazine has a permanent home at stjohnslawseeinfra.com, our online hub for sharing news and stories from St. John’s Law.