Carolina Law’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

August 9, 2020

UNC School of Law is deeply committed to providing a welcoming community for students from all backgrounds. As the law school at the first public university in the country, our focus on public service and teaching excellence make it crucial that we reflect and embrace the diversity of the communities we serve. Diversity of age, color, disability, gender, gender expression and identity, ideology, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, educational and cultural backgrounds, work experiences and veterans’ status all enrich our community, connecting us with a variety of perspectives and ideas that strengthen our teaching, learning, and service.  As Dean Brinkley wrote:

“The leading institutions of the law—the bench and the bar—depend on diversity for legitimacy and public acceptance. If the rule of law is to prevail and legal institutions are to deserve the trust and confidence of the public, they must be sustained by people possessing the attributes that form our individuality as human beings.”

Carolina Law is amplifying these words with actions. Below are examples of the work at Carolina Law that exemplify our commitment. These actions serve as a way to publicly hold ourselves accountable to our students, staff, faculty, our community and our profession:

  • Faculty and staff committed to holding weekly meetings to discuss issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion at Carolina Law with the purpose to act on and  implement recommendations

  • On June 15th, Dean Martin Brinkley pledged $1 million of an unrestricted gift to enhance the law school’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts

  • On June 15th, Carolina Law faculty passed a Resolution on Faculty Diversity

  • On June 22nd, Carolina Law faculty held a brown bag session on teaching structural violence and inclusion

  • On June 24th, the Student Bar Association held a school-wide townhall meeting focusing on a discussion of injustices in America’s police state and systems with special guests discussing current events related to racial oppression, advocacy, and the role we can take in changing our community and the legal system

  • In summer 2020, Carolina Law has established the North Carolina Civil Rights Law Review journal as a student run organization
  • In the spring of 2020, Dean Brinkley allocated $200,000 of an unrestricted gift to the law school to support and sustain the work of the Center for Civil Rights
  • The Diversity and Inclusion Committee grew out of a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force that was convened in 2016. The committee has now expanded to include over 20 members comprised of students, staff and faculty, magnifying voices from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives. The 2020/2021 committee members have been meeting throughout the summer and have formed subcommittees to tackle top priorities concerning faculty and student diversity, and student mental health support.  The committee is tasked with implementation of the remaining recommendations of the 2016-17 Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and other initiatives identified by our ongoing conversations with the law school community.
  • On July 7th, the following commitments were adopted by the Carolina Law Faculty:
    • The faculty commits to including critical learning objectives in every doctrinal first-year course. These objectives will focus on students’ understanding and critical thinking about the historical, social, and economic contexts and inequities underlying the law in each doctrinal first-year course. The faculty also strongly recommends including critical learning objectives in all relevant upper-level courses.
    • The faculty commits to engaging in anti-racist teaching training offered or endorsed by the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. 
    • The faculty commits to thinking and reading individually and discussing as a faculty strategies to bring issues of race with sensitivity and with historical context into our courses where relevant.
  • On July 21st, the following commitments were adopted by the Carolina Law Faculty:
    • The faculty recognizes the large body of literature showing that student evaluations reflect implicit biases against minority and women teachers, and the faculty is committed to be mindful of such biases when reviewing student evaluations so that all faculty are treated equitably.
    • The faculty commits, in the event a proposed tuition increase goes into effect, to using its collective voice to ensure student scholarships will be expanded to ensure that the financial impact on students from historically underrepresented backgrounds is limited.
    • The faculty commits to reviewing the process by which awards and honors are made at UNC Law to ensure that students from diverse backgrounds are fairly represented, and to ensure that work on diversity and inclusion and on social justice is taken into account in making these awards.
    • The faculty commits to amending UNC Law’s mission statement to add a section that reflects our commitment to educating students to understand how law can function to reproduce or redress systems of inequality.
    • The faculty commits to reviewing our past hiring methods and researching and implementing best practices to create a more diverse faculty.
  • On Friday, August 28th, the Carolina Law Faculty adopted a new learning outcome:
    • Students shall be able to recognize, parse, and critically analyze the historical, social, and economic contexts underlying the law, particularly as they relate to racial, gender, or other inequities.  

This page will be updated as new efforts are confirmed and completed.