Students Celebrate Diversity Week

Josephine Biemkpa and Matt Haddadin

Student Bar Association Diversity Committee co-chairs Josephine Biemkpa and Matt Haddadin display this year's Diversity Pledge.

March 27, 2015

More than 500 University of Virginia School of Law students and faculty signed this year's Student Bar Association Diversity Pledge. The statement of respect and tolerance, now in its ninth year, kicked off Diversity Week events, which began Monday.

"I think it's important every now and again to stop and appreciate affinity organizations and make sure they celebrate the commonalities between their members, and also make sure they broadcast themselves throughout the school," said second-year law student Josephine Biemkpa, SBA Diversity Committee co-chair. "Diversity Week gives us a week where we can do just that."

Co-chair Matt Haddadin, also a second-year law student, agreed. "Truly it's a chance to reflect, take a minute, and think about how far we've come," he said.

The pledge was written by the SBA with input from student affinity groups and others interested in providing a way for students to take a symbolic stand against intolerance. Haddadin, a New Jersey native whose parents emigrated from Jordan, said minority representation has grown at UVA Law in the past decade, with more than 200 students currently self-identifying as minorities. He said the language in the pledge has evolved slightly over time to reflect those changes, but has always served as a reminder that collegiality should be extended to everyone in the academic setting.

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