In the Spotlight   

Black Law Students Association e-Board 2015-1

BLSA’s Distinction

Named “Chapter of the Year” by the Northeast Region of the National Black Law Students Association

Seton Hall’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) was named “Small Chapter of the Year” at the 48th Annual Convention of the Northeast Region of the National Black Law Students Association (NEBLSA).

The Black Law Students Association is the largest student-run professional organization in the U.S., comprising six regions in over 48 states and Puerto Rico, and with affiliates in six different countries. Since 1968, its stated goal has been to articulate and promote the needs and goals of black law students and effectuate change in the legal community.

NEBLSA is the largest regional cohort, with 32 chapters across eight states. Chapter of the Year awards were granted to small, medium, and large chapters. Seton Hall Law’s BLSA is in the “small but mighty” category.

Dean Kathleen M. Boozang congratulated BLSA on the honor, recognizing the organization’s many accomplishments and contributions: “You are outstanding,” she said. “You worked tirelessly and passionately for this, and you deserve the accolades.”

Derick Dailey, the Chair Elect for NEBLSA, served on the committee that selected Seton Hall Law this year. “We wanted to determine what moved local chapters and what drove them,” Dailey said. “SHU Law’s BLSA demonstrated a clear vision for their institution. From meeting with the Dean, to continue supporting students of color, to serving the homeless, we felt that Seton Hall was working hard to leave a legal legacy of advocacy and social consciousness.”

With its full year of programming, it is clear how BLSA earned this recognition.

BLSA supports academic success with workshops and lectures. One of their most compelling and timely academic forums, held in February 2015, was entitled, “Badges, Guns, and Trust: Exploring the Crisis of Police Brutality.” Co-hosted with the Diversity Council, the event provided the Seton Hall Law community an opportunity to hear experts discuss the challenges of police and the role they serve in our society and within our neighborhoods.

BLSA also supports professional development by providing access to internships, mentors, and career opportunities. Chané M. Jones ’17 serves as historian of the BLSA board, and also as Vice Chair of NEBLSA. She extolled “the opportunity to connect with students and alumni from more than thirty law schools in the region, and serve law students of color through various programs and services, including our job fair,” she said. “It has been an invaluable experience serving our region and contributing to the legacy of this national organization.”

BLSA supports the personal well-being of its members with hands-on community service and social opportunities, inviting Seton Hall Law’s entire student body to join them in learning, growing, and giving back. Diane Lopez ‘17, the President of the Board, is the driving force behind the organization’s rubber-meets-the-road community involvement. “Inherent in our profession is the idea of service, whether it is in a law firm or in the courtroom. This year we dared ourselves to redefine BLSA's concept of service by getting involved and bridging the existing gap between our profession and the underserved,” she said.

“This BLSA chapter is special not just because of what we do here at Seton Hall, but because we embrace the greater community,” said Anthony Osei ‘18, Secretary of the Board. His favorite event this year was the City of Newark’s United Way 10K Run/3K Walk for Healthy Kids. “Taking part enabled us to appreciate the powerful voice that we have as law students and the duty that we have to our community as future members of the bar,” he said.

This fall, BLSA also conducted a drive for the Newark community’s homeless population, organizing a toiletries drive, and soliciting participation from the entire law school. They delivered the supplies, along with sandwiches, to individuals at Newark Penn Station. “Having the opportunity to give a meal to people in need, and to also hear their stories, was rewarding and humbling,” Lopez said.

Lopez was honored to receive the award at the annual convention: “We worked hard this year, and we intend on leaving a legacy of service for years to come," she concluded. 

Pictured, left to right, are Logaina (Gina) M. Omer '18, Social Chair; Diane Lopez '17, President; Fadja Tassy '18, SBA Representative; Latoya Dawkins '17, Vice President. Not pictured: Marquis Whitney '17, SBA Evening Vice President; Chané M. Jones '17, BLSA historian; Anthony Osei '18, Secretary; and Capri Reid '17, Treasurer.