On March 23-24, BC Law will be hosting The Land Loss, Reparations & Housing Policy Conference in partnership with Harvard Law School Food Law & Policy Clinic, The Institute on Race, Power, and Political Economy at the New School, and Institute for the Liberal Arts at Boston College.
The conference will bring national experts in the areas of land loss, housing, and reparations for a two-day discussion of Black land loss, potential strategies for redress, and housing inequality and affordability issues, and is part of Property and Housing Law Week at BC Law, which will take place March 20-24.
The conference is the kickoff event for BC Law’s new Initiative on Land, Housing, and Property Rights (ILHPR), which is the brainchild of BC Law Professor Thomas Mitchell. Professor Mitchell, who joined BC Law’s faculty at the start of this academic year, is a national expert on the ways that the property system can adversely impact marginalized communities in the United States. In particular, his research has explored the ways in which property laws have been used to systematically strip Black landowners of intergenerational wealth. In just one sector (agriculture) between 1920 and 1997, an estimated $326 billion in intergenerational wealth was taken from Black farm families. In addition to conducting research, Professor Mitchell has also drafted the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA) – a uniform act promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission, which aims to help preserve family wealth passed on through real property.
1) What is your name, year in school, and post-grad plans?
Ayesha Ahsan, 2L, public interest law/civil rights litigation related to voting rights, criminal justice reform, racial justice, and immigrant justice.
Jonathan Bertulis-Fernandes, 2L, public interest appellate/civil rights work related to housing instability, disability, prisoners’ rights (it’s an evolving list…)
2) Can you give me a quick rundown of what SALSA is all about?
Ayesha: SALSA is a space for South Asian students to be in community with each other. Law school is a very white space and there are few South Asians in law school and in the legal profession generally, so we aim to create opportunities for our community members to feel comfortable and supported as they navigate this chapter in their lives.
Jonathan: What Ayesha said! I would just add that we really try to help build community and a “home base” for South Asian law students: both on campus but also with South Asian law students at other schools and members of the South Asian Bar here in Boston and Massachusetts.
Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays for the Asian-American community. For Asian immigrant families in particular, it is a day to gather with family and friends, celebrate with good food and drinks, and prepare for an auspicious year going forward. The last thing that anyone would expect on such a joyous day is a mass shooting.
The Asian-American community was rocked by the sudden shooting in Monterey Park, California this past weekend. Ten victims, five men and five women, were shot dead in Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a Chinese-owned ballroom known for being popular with older Chinese-American patrons. This occurred during a local 2-day street festival for Lunar New Year. Ten others were injured, and the gunman fled and tried to re-enact the shooting at a nearby dance club in Alhambra before being disarmed by locals. The Monterey Park shooting marks at least the 36th mass shooting in the United States in January 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and the second mass shooting this year in California alone.
Over the 2022 holiday break, the BC Law Impact blog is running a series of some of the most powerful and fascinating admissions essays from first-year students. These personal statements, submitted as part of their admissions applications, tell a variety of compelling stories, but the thread connecting them all is an example of the kind of person who is attracted to a BC Law education: one who is driven to work collaboratively with others, achieve great things and make a real difference in the world.
We want to thank the Office of Admissions, and all of the student essay writers, for agreeing to share their stories with us.For more Admissions tips and other content, check out BC Law’s new TikTok channel.
During the first thirteen years of my life, living in Hungary, I cannot count how many times I felt embarrassed for doing something that was only natural to everyone else at school: talking to my mother. The only difference was that my classmates spoke Hungarian, while I spoke Chinese. The difference is minute, but it was significant for me. As my mother picked me up from school and asked how my day was, I chose either to stay silent or occasionally, say “hao,” which means “fine” and is a short and sweet, one-syllable word, just sufficient to answer my mother’s question and to not embarrass myself in front of my Hungarian classmates. But the source of embarrassment did not stem from being different in general—it rather stemmed from being Chinese, as my classmates made countless “harmless” jokes about eating dog meat, or engaged in “well-intentioned” stereotyping about having “almond eyes.”
In support of the well-being of lawyers across the professional spectrum—from students in the classroom to attorneys in all walks of legal life—we have launched a Mental Health Impact Blog Series, in partnership with alumnus Jim Warner ’92. Comprising deeply personal essays by community members who have struggled with mental health issues, the series provides restorative insights and resources to fellow lawyers in need.Read them all here.
The Mental Health Impact Blog Series coincides with a Law School-wide initiative, which will include lectures and workshops to support and promote mental well-being. To get involved in the activities or to write a guest post, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The article below is adapted from alumnus David A. Mill’s full-page editorial published a decade ago on the eve of the first gay pride event in Salem, Massachusetts.
I was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on Oct. 9, 1942, but I was nearly 50 years old before I began to deal with the reality that my sexual orientation was principally gay and was the root of my so-called mental illness. That realization was torture for me, a culmination of a half-century of guilt and shame. I still shudder to recall the terrible isolation of that journey.
As a young boy learning to fish in the Danvers Mill Pond, I readily internalized strong feelings of shame into a core belief: I was unacceptably flawed. It crippled my sense of self and prevented me from following the normal, healthy stages of adolescent development. I was consumed with the task of hiding the fundamental truth of myself from others around me—first my family, then my town, then the Prep, my college, my profession … everyone and everything. I pretended all the while to be something I wasn’t. At the time, to me, it was the only way that I could survive. It was really lonely.
We, the Student Directors of LAHANAS, would like to extend a warm welcome to all class years, old and new to start the academic year! For those who are unfamiliar with who we are, LAHANAS is the student-led umbrella organization that supports BC Law’s affinity student groups, including the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA), Black Law Students Association (BLSA), Disability Law Students Association (DLSA), Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA), Lambda Law Students Association, Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA), Native American Law Students Association (NALSA), and South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA).
We recognize that being a law school student is hard enough as it is, and to have an intersectional and supportive network that you can rely on is key to your success. We work not only with the above mentioned affinity groups, but other student organizations, the Career Services Office, Academic & Student Services, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs to create an inclusive and supportive community where you feel comfortable and safe being your truest self, even in the chaos that is law school. We believe in the importance of pulling each other up when the going gets tough and celebrating each other’s successes.
In short, LAHANAS is here to provide you with the support needed to transition into and thrive in law school. We are committed to making sure that diversity, equity, inclusion issues always have a place on campus and we invite you to be in touch with us directly via email should you have any questions, including those pertaining to transitioning to law school and the BC Law community. Welcome back again, and we look forward to being a resource for you in the ways that you need.
Elena Kang (3L), Ali Shafi (2L), and Jasmine Lee (2L) LAHANAS Student Directors
Writing an Impact post at the beginning of the semester is never easy. How to recapture the excitement for school after a month’s vacation and a return to campus in the middle of a Boston winter? 1L’s gearing up for round 2, 2L’s grinding away, and 3L’s wondering why we are still on campus. In addition, with the latest Covid surge, another round of “when will this all be over” doesn’t exactly help the cause.
But in this case the answer of what to write about seemed clear to me: my experiences in the Innocence Clinic working for my client. While I am not able to disclose many of the details about his case, I can say that my client had a clean record both before and after the arson he was wrongfully convicted of, and that our clinic recently filed a motion for new trial looking to overturn his conviction using newly discovered evidence that demonstrates his innocence nearly twenty years later.
Earlier this week, I decided to organize my files on my laptop and delete ones that I no longer need. As I came across my folders from 1L, I started skimming through my old outlines and class notes (ew) to figure out which files I could delete. Eventually, I came across my folder titled “1L Summer Applications.” It had 177 files. This folder contains various versions of my resume, some writing samples, and cover letters for all the jobs I’d applied for during my 1L year. I had hoped to secure a prestigious firm position for my 1L summer, but it didn’t happen. Although I don’t technically need those files anymore, I decided to keep them all. They remind me of my journey and growth since 1L. Today, as a 3L, I am grateful for ultimately having secured the position of my 1L dreams. To the outsider, it might appear that it was handed to me or that it came easy. But it’s not so black-and-white.
From the start of my fall semester of 1L, I met with CSO often to strategize how and where to apply for 1L summer positions. I networked with at least 2 alumni a week, hoping to just talk to as many people and learn as much as I could about the industry. I spent hours weekly finding and applying to positions on my own. When my 1L summer goals didn’t quite work out, I was crushed. I was afraid things wouldn’t work out for me, ever (silly, I know). I began working even harder. In October of 2L, I ultimately landed the interview (and subsequent offer) of my dreams. But before I heard the “yes” from my position, I heard over 80 “no’s.”
“By welcoming such a large class of Black students, Boston College Law School has demonstrated that Black education, issues, and lives matter. We are not token students, but rather our voices and experiences are welcomed and sought after by the Law School. This new class of future Black lawyers will enrich our community as a school and as a profession.”
John-Henry Marley, BC Law Class of 2021
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has dominated conversations in almost every institution in the United States over the past few years. Whether sparked by the cultural backlash to President Obama’s election, or the rise of Black Lives Matter movement, or perhaps simply an overall reckoning of the need to repair past discriminatory harm, many schools and workplaces have adopted DEI into their core values and strategic plans. Unfortunately, that’s usually where the conversation ends. DEI goals often stay just that: goals without action or results.
I want to make it clear that this article is not reflective of every single immigrant student’s story here at BC Law. Every experience is different, but I hope that my fellow immigrant first-gen students who read this article might relate to the internal conflict I feel as a student in law school. I also fully believe that one does not have to be an immigrant to relate to the sentiments here. I hope this can help other students feel heard and not alone.
Whether it’s the sentiment of feeling like I don’t quite belong, or the constant internal turmoil concerning my career path, a big portion of my experience as a law student has been shaped by my immigrant identity–and perhaps not in the healthiest way.
My mother works from 9AM to 7PM, 7 days a week in her small beauty supply store in Brooklyn. She moved here over 20 years ago when the “American Dream” was still a prevalent sentiment that encouraged immigrants to move and seek out better lives for their children, notwithstanding the fact that the “American Dream” is mostly a myth for people who are not on equal footing with those who were already born with qualities that are favored in this country. While she worries about affording the next rent payment on the store or ordering enough products to stock her shelves, my worries mostly lie with struggling to understand the Rule of Perpetuities.