During a panel for high school students interested in law, one student asked, “How can we be sure that a law school will provide us with the skills that we need to do the things that we’d like to do?” My response was that although faculty and administrators may help students attain the skills they need, students themselves can, and should, play an active role in their own education. Had I been asked that question one year earlier I may have had a different response. My perspective on the student’s role in law school and higher education generally has been influenced by my involvement in the seminar 64@50: The Civil Rights Act of 1964.
During the Fall semester of 2014, Columbia Law students organized and led a seminar focused on the landmark civil rights legislation enacted a half-century ago. One constant throughout the sessions was the level of student involvement in shaping and leading the discussions. By taking on an increased role in fashioning their own legal education, Columbia Law students were not only studying an important event in the civil rights movement, they were also exhibiting the character that moved young people to challenge the status quo, and impact the institutions of their day, over fifty years ago.
Creating and leading a reading group may not seem like a revolutionary act, but when understood within the context of events that occurred during the Fall semester of 2014, not only at Columbia Law School but around the nation, the potential impact of the seminar is more evident. Continue reading Where the Law(yer) is Made: Campus Activism and Civil Rights Work