02 Jun 2020
Dear Nebraska Law community:
Once again, as we have all too often in the past, we are confronted with unequal justice that can occur in our legal system. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis one week ago adds to the numerous complaints of police brutality that have been suffered by people of color in our country. I know that so many members of our community are suffering right now in one way or another. I am writing to ask you to come together as a community and support each other during this difficult time.
President Carter and the Chancellors have issued a statement on behalf of the University. I recommend you read Vice Chancellor Marco Barker’s message as well. These messages reiterate our community’s goals of equity and inclusion, while recognizing that there is more work to be done.
As the Dean of Nebraska Law, I also am compelled to remind you of your unique role in our system of justice at the core of these events. We need inclusive leaders who understand that the experiences and perspectives of people from all backgrounds must be heard. We must advance justice whenever and wherever there is a need. We must be prepared to deeply critique, criticize, and reform the system of justice that our profession has helped create, all while supporting the many people working in that very system in good faith to pursue equity and fairness.
To prepare ourselves to do this work, we may be required to step outside of own experiences in an effort to examine what is happening right now from a perspective that does not mirror our own. Doing so will likely be difficult; it will require an examination of our own biases. It may require listening more than speaking. It demands that we be deliberate and thoughtful as we do this work.
The University of Nebraska College of Law will be a part of the solution as we strive to create a justice system that works for everyone regardless of race, class, or gender. All of us can participate, for the vast majority of those who exercise our constitutional right of public protest and those who work in the criminal justice system every day seek this very same goal.
Over the last two months we have all lived in unprecedented times caused by a global pandemic. Yet we need to remember that the injustices and inequities that have sparked public demonstrations are not unique. While science may ultimately relieve us of the pandemic, those of us in the legal community have a special responsibility to call out and address injustice and inequity through our deeds and actions. You are being educated and trained to do just that. I hope you do.
For those who are interested in coming together for a dialogue about current events, UNL’s OASIS Center is hosting such an event today, June 2 at 12:00 p.m. You can find information about that event and how to register at https://www.unl.edu/oasis/statement-on-protests.
Finally, but importantly, self-care is always essential but most especially during times of stress. Counseling and Psychological Services is offering remote (i.e. Zoom, phone) appointments and crisis support. Crisis services are available 24/7 at 402-472-7450.