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2020 Anti-Racism Steering Committee Report

VLS as Citizen

This concept captures the strong shared desire that the Law School as an institution, and all of its community members, use their power to be a positive force in the communities outside our walls. Such citizenship can operate at the local, state, national, and international levels. We believe the following are important steps toward fostering strong VLS citizenship on issues of race, racial justice, and inequality more broadly.

Community engagement and service

  • Demonstrate administrative support for, and continue to strongly promote, the existing VLS day of service for faculty, staff, and students to work together on projects around Nashville (or virtually) in support of distressed communities, particularly those comprised primarily of Black or other persons of color. Particular efforts should be made to increase participation by the faculty.
  • Explore a mechanism by which staff can take one paid administrative day per quarter to perform community-building or community service work.
  • Identify institutional mechanisms and resources to facilitate, promote, encourage, and incentivize faculty and student participation in pro bono projects, particularly local projects, including in partnership with  the Legal Aid Society, Law Students for Social Justice, the Legal Clinic, the Public Interest Office, and community legal services providers.
  • Consider, and seek funding to support, expansion of clinical offerings to include more learning opportunities through direct service to indigent Black and other persons of color.
  • Strengthen bonds with local and state government. For example, VLS community members could partner with local officials to engage in organized learning about the governmental processes always underway here in Nashville, and could develop projects such as tutoring and early-legal-education programs for Metro Nashville Public Schools students.
  • Encourage, fund, and otherwise incentivize faculty, student, and administrator participation in local, state, and national bar groups and the Inns of Court.
  • Take a leadership role, particularly at the local level, in providing voter education, coordinating voter registration, and mobilizing get-out-the-vote efforts, starting in Fall 2020.
  • Establish a process for asking that VLS take an institutional policy stand on issues of public importance, as well as criteria by which such decisions will be made.

Leveraging our market power

  • Explore the option of enacting a policy of blocking VLS funds from going to vendors who promote or exhibit discriminatory policies and practices.
  • Cultivate and champion vendor relationships that promote equity and inclusion, particularly with businesses headed by people of color.
  • Evaluate VLS’ financial holdings to determine their level of harmony with our values.
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