Diversity & Inclusion at Oregon Law

2019 graduating class in their graduation gowns

Diversity & Inclusion at Oregon Law

Our Mission

Diversity is a crucial and invaluable component of the intellectual, educational, and social mission of our community. At Oregon Law, we believe that strengthening our efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical to our overall efforts to achieve excellence as a competitive, world-class law school.

Our immediate aim is to foster a more inclusive learning and working environment for students, faculty, staff, and community partners—one that is successful, thriving, and more resilient because of its diversity. Our broader aim is to learn, teach, and practice the principles of equity and justice in all we do, helping to ensure that all people have the opportunity to grow, contribute, and develop.

Our Diversity Action Plan

The University of Oregon in Eugene, OR is located on native Kalapuya land. In 1855-1856, the Kalapuya people were forcibly removed and relocated to the Grand Ronde reservation, effectively terminating Native presence in the Eugene area. Today, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde incorporate the Kalapuya and several other tribes and bands from western Oregon, southern Washington, and northern California. Learn more about this native history on campus with the Many Nations Longhouse.

Chris Ruiz de Esparza smiling in front of fall foliage outside of the law school
Meet Oregon Law’s Director for Diversity, Inclusion & Leadership Development

“At Oregon Law, our aim is to foster a more inclusive learning and working environment for students, faculty, staff, and community partners—cultivating a community that is successful, thriving, and stronger because of its diversity.”

Chris Ruiz de Esparza
Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Development

Learn more about Director Chris Esparza

Faculty scholarship and teaching in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and civil rights 

Oregon Law’s faculty are engaged in a wide variety of research and teach on topics that touch every day lives. Their work encompasses a wide range of fields including human rights, civil rights, international law, and criminal law. Learn more about their valuable research, which focuses on themes of diversity and inclusion.



Courses that fulfill the Diversity Requirement:

  • Civil Practice Clinic
  • Child Development and Law
  • Children and the Law
  • Contemporary Issues in American Indian Law
  • Domestic Violence Civil Clinic
  • Domestic Violence Protective Order Clinic
  • Domestic Violence Seminar
  • Gender and Justice
  • Human Rights and Environment
  • Immigration Law
  • Indian Law
  • International Law
  • Race, Gender, and Bias
  • Women and the Law


Explore the Course Catalog

Statue of Rosa Parks on bench located in Eugene's Central Station



Hands emerging from jail bars
Study Shows Racial Inequity in Parole Decisions

A recent California law created parole hearings to provide a “meaningful opportunity for release” to people who were sentenced to life in prison as children. Under this law, hundreds of people have been granted parole, and as of 2017, none of them had returned to prison.

New research by Assistant Professor Kristen Bell suggests, however, that the law’s promise of a meaningful opportunity is not an equal opportunity. Black people and people without a private attorney were more likely to be denied parole.

Read Professor Bell's Research

children in a class with little racial diversity raising their hands to be called on
Analyzing Racial Disparities in School Discipline

In the US there are significant racial inequalities in school discipline but little agreement on how best to measure them.

Grant-funded research done by UO Professors Erik J. Girvan (Associate Professor, School of Law) and Kent McIntosh (College of Education), and Keith Smolkowski (Oregon Research Institute), examines common measures of racial disparities, proposes and explains alternatives, and makes recommendations to schools, districts, and states on how to better assess and understand this important problem.

Read the Findings




Community Engagement

Throughout the year, Oregon Law hosts several events that are open to the public. These events are meant to engage members of the UO campus and community at-large as well as foster open discussions about topics surrounding diversity and inclusion.



Derrick Bell Lecture

The Derrick Bell Lecture Series is named after the first African-American Dean of the UO School of Law, Derrick Bell. Dean Bell’s tenure at Oregon Law began in 1980. During his time at the School of Law, his commitment to civil rights, race and law intersections were essential to ushering in a new era at Oregon Law. To honor his legacy, the School of Law partners with the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, along with other campus departments to host the annual lecture series.


2019 Derrick Bell Lecture

"Affirmative Action Chronicles: From the Era of Colorblindness to White Nationalism"

Professor Cheryl Harris, Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Professor in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, at the University of California, Los Angeles, explored affirmative action and the role that race plays in public policy at the annual Bell Lecture Series.

Watch Harris' interview with UO Today


Cheryl Harris standing in front of podium


Wayne Morse Center theme of inquiry: Borders, Migration, and Belonging

A two-year theme of inquiry exploring the human experience of migration in Oregon, the United States, and the wider world. 



Celebrating Our Students

Our goal is to develop students to their full potential, help them find their voice, and learn how to use that voice to advocate for justice, their clients and their cause. Students are also encouraged to be active participants in making Oregon Law a place where everyone can live, learn, and flourish.


black and white photo of Weston Koyama smiling
Making History, Changing Lives: Minoru Yasui Fellowship

As the first-ever Minoru Yasui Fellow, Weston Koyama (JD ‘19/Order of the Coif) spent his time at Oregon Law focused on using the law to overcome oppression specifically related to race and ethnicity.

 “I want future generations to know that no matter where you’re from or who you are, your destiny is up to you. That in a truly free society, we are in a place to fight whatever oppression may exist out there and reclaim our destiny for ourselves.”

Read Weston's Story

Student Affinity Groups

Student organizations play a critical role in providing our students with support, community, and advocacy.  Among these are several affinity groups representing the different diversity and cultural groups here at Oregon Law school.  These include: 

  • Asian Pacific American Law Student Association
  • Black Law Student Association
  • Jewish Law Student Association
  • Latinx Law Students Association
  • Native American Law Student Association
  • OUTLaws (LGBTQ+ law student group)
  • Women’s Law Forum


Community Input

Submit a Suggestion

Report an Incident

At Oregon Law, we strive to engage with diverse points of view, see and hold multiple perspectives, and understand others from their perspective. We welcome specific feedback on what we can do to build a more inclusive environment that builds on each other’s perspectives, strengths, knowledge, and abilities to maximize our community’s potential.


When a violation of the University of Oregon Student Conduct Code, law school Honor Code or other policy or rule governing student conduct is alleged, or whenever a member of the law School Community believes such a violation has occurred, they are encouraged to submit an incident report.




ENR Delegation with Prof Dotson in front of the White House in DC
Ten Oregon Law students from the school's Environmental & Natural Resources Law Center recently went to DC to present their own research before the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
outside of knight law center
As we take a look back at 2019, we’re highlighting the top stories published by Oregon Law and Around the O.
student protesters with "there is no planet b" signs
Professor Mary Wood’s new research focuses on developing three interlocking efforts that will work together to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remove carbon from the atmosphere.

All News »