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At the University of New Mexico Law School, Professor Sonia Gipson Rankin describes three activities organized in spring 2020 to address the national protest movement – a virtual teach-in; a social justice book club; and a startup student organization, Law Students for Equity & Inclusion. The teach-in included a panel of professors and students who discussed police killings of African Americans, the U.S. history of racial violence, protest and related topics.

Rankin notes that relevant courses such as “Race and the Law,” “Indian Law” and “Refugee Law” were regularly being offered at the UNM School of Law for decades and that faculty were using casebooks “that explicitly address issues of criminal law and torts with an understanding of racial, gender and class distinctions in the law.”

However, Rankin says students are seeking a more distinct social justice curriculum. “The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others have encouraged law students to use their agency and demand more foundational legal courses that deal squarely with race and inequality — and they are right,” Rankin asserts. She believes today’s law students need and “must know all the written and unwritten rules and policies” of the systems they will encounter. UNM law students last spring started an organization called Law Students for Equity & Inclusion.



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Diverse: Issues in Higher Education



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