SBA Completes Fifth Annual Diversity Pledge Drive

Sanjiv Tata

University of Virginia School of Law SBA president Sanjiv Tata

April 6, 2011

It turned out rather well," said SBA president Sanjiv Tata. Between a third and a half of the Law School signed the pledge."Hundreds of students, faculty and staff signed the fifth annual diversity pledge at the Law School last week, according to the Student Bar Association, which organized the drive.

The pledge states that every person is entitled to respect, regardless of class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation — "We pledge to treat all people with dignity and respect, to discourage others' prejudice in all its forms and to strive to maintain a climate for work and learning based on mutual respect and understanding."

It's become a Law School tradition and has taken on a symbolic significance that goes beyond the collection of signatures, Tata said.

This year, the pledge — which is sponsored by the SBA's Diversity Committee — will also serve as a kickoff for broader array of diversity-related efforts, he said.

"We'll be doing everything from meeting with Admissions to talk about recruitment and retention of students from diverse backgrounds, to talking about how SBA and affinity groups can work toward providing greater support to such students here," Tata said.

Those efforts will also include a push to engage the broader Law School and University communities in events hosted by affinity groups.

"In the past the pledge has been sort of the biggest product of [SBA] diversity efforts, but that won't be the case this year," Tata said.

Around 30 to 35 volunteers participated in gathering signatures last week, and Tata said he was happy to receive positive feedback about the pledge from faculty and staff members as well as from students, including from an admitted student who told Tata he'd heard of the pledge.

"It was an overwhelmingly positive experience," he said.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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