As alumni know from experience, law school is a full-time job. Yet that has never stopped UB law students from devoting enormous energy outside the classroom to student organizations – groups that enliven the academic year and contribute to the rich mixture of ideas at the school.
This year has been no exception, despite the spring-semester disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In person and online, student groups have made for a jam-packed calendar of events, fellowship and learning.
“It’s amazing how much they accomplished this year, especially since we had the shortened in-person semester and despite all the challenges they faced,” says Amy Atkinson, who as the law school’s director of student life coordinates and supports nearly three dozen student groups. “The students remained positive and upbeat throughout the whole year. They’re continuing to plan virtual events, and they’re already ready to tackle plans for next year.
“I’m very fortunate and privileged to work with our students whose interests and passions are widespread. They’re really proving how resilient they are and showing us a glimpse of what great things we can expect from them as future leaders and practicing attorneys.”
One of the hallmarks of UB Law’s student culture is respectful engagement even between groups with deeply felt opposing positions. Two of the most active student groups, the conservative Federalist Society and the progressive American Constitution Society, have modeled that ideal, even co-sponsoring events over the course of the year. (Learn more about the year of activities organized by the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society.)
Overseeing the majority of the student organizations, and disbursing funds generated through the student activity fee, is the Student Bar Association. Its outgoing president, Abisha Vijayashanthar ’20, says programming has run the gamut this year, from purely social activities to panel discussions to community service.
A special focus has been on student wellness, a priority that Vijayashanthar encouraged as president. “The biggest thing I saw was a need for more focus on mental health, and I wanted to change that,” she says. “We received a lot of student input, and we looked at any ways we could possibly improve the student experience at the law school. I was very inspired by lots of people in our class who showed interest.”
She also noted generous contributions of time and energy from faculty and alumni. “We’ve got some great professors here who are willing to take the time to participate in things like this,” Vijayashanthar says. “They’ve gone out of their way to help students facilitate these events. And the alumni have been amazing in stepping up with what we need. It’s always been such a pleasure to work with a group of people who remember that law school is tough and are always asking what our students need.”
Here’s a sampling of the many events and programs organized by our student organizations this past academic year:
Alternative Dispute Resolution Society
Black Law Students Association
Christian Law Student Fellowship
Domestic Violence Task Force
Family and Children’s Law Society
Latin American Law Students Association
Phi Alpha Delta
Student Bar Association