In the spring of 2016, the Human Rights Law Association began its first semester as an official organization at the UConn School of Law in Hartford. Students and faculty at the law school have displayed a longstanding commitment to human rights through involvement in organizations such as the Public Interest Law Group and the International Refugee Assistance Project as well as the Asylum and Human Rights Clinic, and the new group is building on that foundation. The group aims to develop a community of law students with diverse human rights interests and to provide them with opportunities to learn about ways they can become involved with human rights issues both during their time at law school as well as in their future careers. Additionally, the group operates as a forum where students can express their opinions and concerns about human rights issues close to home as well as internationally.
One of the founding members of the club and the current president, Taylor Faranda Korthuis, describes the group as a way for students to become part of a larger network of human rights scholars and activists. Taylor, who is in her second year at UConn Law, brings both leadership and human rights experience to the group. Before law school, Taylor travelled to Uganda with a non-profit organization and engaged in human rights work in Central America. Closer to home, she also spent a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA in New Haven, Connecticut. For Taylor, law school is another step towards a future in public interest and legal aid. Upon arriving at UConn Law, she felt as though it was difficult for students to see the scope of available human rights opportunities and therefore harder for them to get involved. To remedy this situation, Taylor reached out to like-minded students on campus, and together they created the Human Rights Law Association.
Since the group’s inception last spring, members have been hard at work promoting their organization, building their networking framework, and even hosting their first events. The new association connects its members with a human rights LinkedIn group and has already organized a career panel at the law school. The panel, which featured lawyers in a variety of human rights related positions, gave students the opportunity to ask questions and get an inside look at what a future career in human rights law might look like, as well as advice on how to distinguish themselves as job applicants. The group also recently hosted a fundraiser for the organization Days for Girls to raise money to supply girls in need around the world with feminine hygiene products that will help them stay in school.
The group is still young and developing its identity on campus, but members have high hopes and big plans for the coming semesters. Students are planning to organize a human rights symposium in the spring of 2017 and would like to continue to host guest speakers and career panels for all interested law students. The group also hopes to organize student trips to human rights conferences and to collaborate with other clubs on campus as well as with human rights associations from other law schools.
More information about the Human Rights Law Association can be found on the UConn Law School website or by clicking here.