Diversity Committee (2 positions)
Noel K. Soma
I grew up surrounded by diversity in San Francisco. Spreading the importance of diversity and inclusion is important to me. Everybody has a unique background that brings something to the table. Having worked with many groups of diverse backgrounds, I plan to share those perspectives here. I love learning about people’s struggles, ideas, and opinions.
Raising awareness about the issues that diverse groups face and promoting some solutions to students, staff, and faculty about how they can contribute to the goals of diversity and inclusion.
As an Oregonian, I grew up surrounded by a diverse family, however, felt diversity hidden in our communities. Consequently, I hope as an SBA leader, I can promote actions that will cultivate, rather than oppress diversity. I have spent the last three years living abroad in asia, and understand how various cultural and geographical backgrounds lead to interesting and productive learning experiences. I am deeply invested in the representation of diverse populations within the Lewis & Clark community, and making sure each group has a voice in the decision making process at our school.
- I would like to make race and culture an open and invited dialogue between the SBA, students, and faculty.
- I would like to meet with the various diversity oriented student groups to make sure their interests are provided for.
- I would like to help the school as a whole to improve their efforts to attract students with diverse backgrounds to attend our law school.
Hi! I’m Jia, a 1L, and I would like to serve on the SBA Diversity Committee. I believe that I am well suited for the position for several reasons. First, I am personally acquainted with the adversity facing women and people of color. Second, I am very involved with addressing diversity issues through public service. I’m from Milwaukee, WI, which is unfortunately the second most segregated city in the country. There, I focused on issues of educational inequity, working as a math and science tutor for middle and high school students from low-income communities. I currently volunteer at a local, nonprofit organization focusing on environmental justice and civil rights issues for low-income communities and communities of color. Lastly, I am not afraid to address “sensitive” topics (e.g., race, gender identity, etc.) head-on rather than tiptoeing around the issues.
I am very committed to promoting a vibrant and diverse law school and legal community here in Portland. My goal is to help cultivate an environment at L&C where everyone feels comfortable and well represented.
Noel K. Soma
My name is Noel Kaleikalaunuokaoia’i’o Soma and I am a 1L here at Lewis & Clark. I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i and have had the great fortune of being a part of diverse communities my whole life. I would be honored to serve as a diversity committee representative on SBA.
I believe I am a good fit for this office first and foremost because of my understanding of diversity. I come with a desire to learn from others and help facilitate the building of relationships to ensure movement and growth. I have a heart for service and know that I will give this position all that I got. My creativity and outgoing positive attitude have allowed me to serve in many leadership roles and be a part of both little and big success within diverse communities. A huge potential exists here at Lewis & Clark and I’d like to have the opportunity to play a role in capitalizing on it, turning the “I”s into “we”s.
The goals we can accomplish can be broken into two areas; service and support, and education and outreach.
Service and Support
Diversity is not just a category that people use to classify themselves within but rather a way of life. The diverse students and faculty on campus come with so much to contribute to the larger law school community. Providing them with the support needed in transitioning to law school as well as facilitating their success by creating a sense of “o’hana” and outlets which they can use to share their diverse backgrounds is what we need to do.
One idea for this would be to create a monthly brown bag lunch that allows diverse students, especially those who are international students, to get together and talk story about whatever maybe on their minds, providing all students with a space where they can vent and hopefully have some laughs too, similar to what Judge Ortega provides in her de-brief session but run by students. The brown-bag would be another option for students which SBA could provide and could really allow for the building of a more united student body.
Also within this area, we should work with the diversity student organizations to help better make their voices and concerns known to the SBA at large and help to facilitate dialog amongst these organizations and other organizations on campus. The events, services, support, and opportunities they provide all students are phenomenal considering how much they juggle, thus we need to be their support system. Working with the Diversity Work Group is another important way we need to continue to be involved. Their work in trying to improve and provide resources for diverse students lines up with our own goals for providing support and service.
Education and Outreach
In Hawaiian “o’hana” means family but from my upbringing and life experiences I have learned it to mean the inclusion and respect of differences and working through those differences to create relationships that will last the ages. The educational benefits of learning about diversity are numerous especially in the area of law. Having “o’hana” and supporting the meaning of it by implementing strategies that promote inclusion, respect, and relation building here at Lewis & Clark, will not only benefit the Lewis & Clark community, but also the greater Portland and potentially Oregon area as they move toward developing and supporting a more diverse population.
Educating students and faculty about issues of diversity both within the field of law as well as the larger context of the world we live in are crucial. Speaker panels, cultural events, and reading groups that address issues of diversity; whether it be disabilities, sexual orientation, or race, are all ways that we can educate ourselves about these sorts of issues and open ourselves to the dynamic and beautiful interworking of our world. This also gives students and faculty opportunities to potentially get involved in these areas. Having a safe environment to communicate and do these things is something that we need to provide and focus on as well.
Reaching out to diverse students, faculty, and other community members is something we need to do to show that we support them but also that we honor and recognize how important they are. Doing this also reminds us to have humility. We can get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, especially in law school, that we take for granted the opportunity to meet and learn from people and create extended “o’hanas.” Let’s change that! We can do it!
Diversity is a very serious issue, particularly in the city of Portland. While our community is not as diverse as we would all like to see it, we still have the potential to make a significant impact. As a member of an ethnic minority, I have made it a priority to not only promote the expansion of ethnic diversity at Lewis & Clark, but to make the most out of the diversity we do have. I have volunteered time in programs such as Portland Parks & Recreation Youth Sports and Portland Little League in an effort to inject the diversity I can offer into the community. I participated in nearly every program the Oregon State Bar Diversity & Inclusion Program has offered in the past year. I have also fostered deep connections with many members of the Asian/Pacific American Law Student Association, Minority Law Student Association, Oregon Asian Pacific American Bar Association, among others. As a member of the Diversity Committee, I will draw on these experiences and resources to do all that I can in promoting diversity on our campus and in our community.
My primary goal will be to make sure the interests of diversity on the Lewis & Clark campus are protected. As members of ethnic minorities in a place such as Portland, it increases the urgency for those of us already here to step forward, and I hope to bring more of us out of the woodwork. I will also act as a medium between students (minorities and majorities!) and campus leadership in voicing concerns regarding diversity.