Racial Justice Practicum at U of I aims to create student-lawyer social justice network

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)–A new program at the U of I’s College of Law is preparing students to tackle social justice issues. They started in the classroom, but now they’re in the real world.

17 students taking what’s called the “Racial Justice Practicum” started helping at both law firms and legal organizations. They’ll be doing that all summer. The classroom part of the course taught students how systemic racism can affect both the legal system, and local communities.

They’ll work on a wide range of issues. Such as environmental racism, hate crimes, and social norms that can lead to discrimination. The professor teaching the course says they wanted students to begin seeing themselves as agents for social change.

“The students have certainly inspired me in the way they think about these issues, and their dedication,” Assistant Dean Margareth Etienne said. “So I’m glad we were able to provide this for them and fill this need, both among our student population and our community.”

Etienne said she hopes students will use this opportunity to build a social justice network. There are plans to continue providing the course each summer for the next three years, and some hope from University officials that the course can become a full-time class in the available to all law students in the future.

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