In an emotional video released earlier this week, students at the UCLA School of Law gathered to share their stories of being among the few black students on campus as part of an awareness campaign simply titled "33."
According to the video, out of roughly 1,100 students, 33 of them are black, that's three percent of the school's student population. Official statistics reveal there are a total of 994 students enrolled getting their Juris Doctor, however, an official from the school says the video's 1,100 figure likely includes students receiving their LL.M. (Master of Laws).
“I am so tired of being on this campus everyday and having to plead my humanity, essentially, to other students. I feel like an outsider constantly. I don’t feel like at my own school I can solely focus on being a student," one woman explained.
"It feels isolating. It feels horrible. It feels like there is a lot of pressure, a lot of weight. It feels like I don't belong. It feels unwelcoming and hostile,” another woman shared.
The students expanded upon their feelings of isolation, and feeling like they have to represent their entire community.
“It’s a constant burden of pressure. I’m constantly policing myself, just being aware of what I say and how it can be interpreted because I essentially am the representation of the black community.”
One woman felt she had been automatically characterized as an "angry black woman" after she disagreed with the views of a particular professor and openly vocalized her thoughts.
"The fact that I was a black woman played a lot into why people stopped listening to me. I felt like if there were maybe more black women in the class, maybe just five of us, people could have seen more of a variation in our responses to what was going on in class and what I felt like was sexism in the classroom."
Lately, students of color have been using the internet to raise awareness about diversity issues on their campuses. Just a few months ago, undergraduate students at UCLA released a video pointing out the fact that UCLA has more NCAA championships than black male freshmen. While students at the University of Michigan ignited a viral conversation on Twitter titled #BBUM (being black at the University of Michigan.)
UPDATE: 9 p.m. -- UCLA School of Law's Dean Rachel F. Moran provided the following response to HuffPost: "UCLA Law students eloquently have expressed their frustration and disappointment with the low number of African-American students at the law school. As a public law school that has always been committed to access and opportunity, we share their frustrations and we remain determined to do everything possible to increase the diversity of each incoming class. UCLA School of Law is committed to a culture of collegiality and collaboration. We are dedicated to fostering an atmosphere that is welcoming to all students and an environment that values and supports every member of our community.
I have been working with my administration to provide opportunities that facilitate constructive conversations for all of our students, and we are and will continue to be reaching out to provide additional support, hear their concerns and continue this important dialogue."
Watch the video above and share your thoughts in the comments section.
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