September 14, 2016 | By Janette Blair — Pepperdine School of Law held its annual Diversity Week during the week of September 8-11, 2015. The events of Diversity Week were organized by Al Sturgeon, the school’s Dean of Student Life and Diversity Officer, along with Deputy Diversity Officers Smita Reddy Nowlin, Nicole Chavez, and Marcelo Rosadilla.
“We designed Diversity Week for two reasons: First, we want every new student to know that we value the rich diversity that exists in our student body, faculty and staff, and we should celebrate that,” Sturgeon said. “Secondly, there are so many amazing LLMs and Straus students from across the world that the JD students don’t always get to know. Diversity Week is designed to help all of the students across the Straus/JD divide get to know each other early on so we could get to know and celebrate one another and what each culture brings to the school. Diversity Week will continue to be an annual tradition because it received such good feedback from everyone.”
Highlights from the week included Tuesday’s Global Village Day, intended to celebrate national, regional, and ethnic cultures through food, music, and fashion. All of the nationalities represented in the Straus Institute and the SBA ethnic student organizations were featured across almost two dozen tables, presenting a variety of food, music and art. The Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, the Black Law Students Association and the Hispanic Law Student Association were among the many organizations represented.
On Wednesday, Professor Marcelo Rosadilla led a discussion on how to effectively engage in difficult, cross-cultural conversations. All students who were interested in taking part in “difficult dialogue” lunches that would take place throughout the year when controversial hot topics hit the national news attended the presentation. The purpose of the event was in some respect a training so that throughout the year the students, faculty and staff could engage in productive dialogue.
Thursday’s event came on the eve of September 11, with Dean Sturgeon interviewing Professor Ahmed Taha regarding his faith and specifically his experience as an American and practicing Muslim working in the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred. As a Muslim-American, Professor Taha, his wife and children were Americans that were suddenly thrust into an anti-American rhetoric. The event was a very positive conversation on faith with Professor Ahmed Taha, and attracted the attention of students at Seaver College as well.
Diversity Week was very well received and will continue to be held early every year to welcome entering classes to the School of Law.
View photos of Diversity Week on Flickr:
–Janette Blair (JD ’15) for Pepperdine Law Communications