Sept. 2, 2020

UCalgary Law launches new admissions process for Black students

Process responds to calls to action from student group
A Black female smiles in a crowd of people
Second-year law student Keshia Holloman

The Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary has launched a new admissions process for Black applicants, in response to Calls to Action presented earlier this summer by the Calgary chapter of the Black Law Students Association.

The Black Student Admissions Process (BSAP) will provide space and visibility for Black applicants to speak about their lived experiences and the barriers they have overcome. The BSAP is intended to address the under-representation of Black students in the law school, and the legal community as a whole.

“The primary goal of our Black Student Admissions Process is to lessen the systemic barriers that exist that lead to the under-representation of Black law students and, consequently, Black lawyers,” explains Catherine Valestuk, assistant dean of recruiting and admissions at the law school.

In the new process, Black applicants will be asked if they self-identify as Black. If an applicant answers yes, they will be invited to complete an personal essay which might include their connection to Black culture, and/or the impact of institutional, structured or personal racism on the applicant or their family. Additionally, applicants who have self-identified as Black will have their applications reviewed by up to two members of the Black Students Admissions Process Sub-Committee, which includes members of the Black Law Students Association, Black law faculty members, and Black members of the wider legal community.

“The review process is intended to ensure that those with a similar lived experience to Black applicants are involved in admission decisions and help applicants feel welcome and supported,” says Valestuk.

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Dean Parthenis
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