School of Law Collaborative Inspires Students to Promote Racial Equity
A new SLU LAW student organization called the Justice Equity Collaborative (JEC) aims
to involve legal students and alumni in its efforts to promote racial justice, equality
and equity by going beyond equal opportunity and considering context.
JEC, which officially began at the beginning of the fall 2016 semester, was founded
by three third-year students, Ericka Simpson Conner, Mark Timmerman and Ilana Friedman.
“We wanted to have something that would bring everyone together,” Simpson Conner said.
“Just because we have equality, doesn’t mean that we have equity. We wanted people
to understand what the difference was.”
Simpson Conner, along with Timmerman and Friedman, were motivated by the desire to
see people of all cultures and racial backgrounds being represented and recipients
“We met probably four or five times [at the beginning] to organize our thoughts, our
goals and the way in which we could start making lasting institutional change not
only at SLU LAW, but also within the St. Louis legal community,” said Friedman, who
is a dual-degree student working toward her J.D. and M.A. in psychology. “JEC would
be about doing the work and providing students opportunities to go out into the community
to start having positive impacts immediately while in law school, coupled with presentations
and speakers and educational events at SLU LAW.”
Their first year at SLU LAW began in the fall of 2014, just weeks after the shooting
of Michael Brown, an incident that sparked racial discussions around the country.
It was this event, and the ensuing debates on race relations in the United States,
that encouraged them to ignite a law student group that promoted all facets of justice.
“There is this responsibility that lawyers have,” Simpson Conner said, “to make sure
that everyone has an equal opportunity to receive justice and have their voice be
As SLU LAW students, being educated with a Jesuit perspective that seeks to care for
all people gives them the drive and the motivation to do so in innovative ways.
“We spent a lot of time thinking about that, how we could push forward and move forward
the whole idea of Jesuit values,” Simpson Conner said.
JEC has ambitious goals that seek to influence SLU LAW internally and the community
that surrounds it.
“Some short-term goals are to supplement topics within course material,” Friedman
said. “Instead of using typical cases normally taught, professors supplement contracts
cases dealing with the inequitable administration of justice or flawed contracts based
on racial or sexual discrimination.”
In the long term, JEC collaborators desire to ignite a passion and a motivation for
all SLU LAW students to fight for equality and equity for all peoples of every race