Diversity & Equality
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Diversity & Equality Spotlight Series
The Law Society is committed this year to improve and further Trinity College Dublin’s vision for Diversity and Equality. In line with this mission, the Law Society Diversity and Equality Spotlight Series was established to provide a platform for minority students and individuals to showcase their work and receive the recognition they deserve. This series seeks to shed light on the remarkable efforts of students like Jane Eghaghe, who serves as the Convener/Chair of the Law School’s Student Equality Diversity Inclusion (EDI) Committee. In this interview, we delve into Jane’s experiences, motivations, and initiatives in championing EDI at Trinity College Dublin.
Jane's Role and Responsibilities:
Jane, in her role as the Chair of the Law School’s Student Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, has a profound influence on shaping a more inclusive environment. She explains her responsibilities, “if there is an issue with EDI in the Law school at Trinity, we bring those up and fix them (in plain words). We have not had a lot of issues because the Law school is doing a good job and trying to promote EDI currently.”
Her role extends to both students and staff. Jane elaborates, “We have a student committee and a school committee which has lecturers and faculty. In the student committee, it is myself chairing that, and running through the agendas in that meeting.” This dual-committee structure ensures that students’ voices are heard and actions taken, backed by the participation of faculty members.
Motivation for Advocating EDI:
Jane’s journey into EDI initiatives began before her role as Chair. Her job focuses on issues of race and ethnicity, but she recognized that EDI encompasses a wider spectrum. Her motivation to become Chair stemmed from her desire to increase the representation of people of colour and women in the Law School, acknowledging the need for greater diversity in the field. Jane shares, “I just wanted to put myself forward because I wanted to push myself to do more.”
Initiatives and Future Plans:
The EDI Committee at Trinity Law School has already achieved a significant milestone by establishing a legal skills module aimed at Junior Freshmen . Jane explains, “This is the main achievement we have had since the committee was established…we felt like law was not accessible.” When she speaks of accessibility, she is referring to the ability for all aspiring legal minds, regardless of their background or family connections in the legal profession, to embark on their legal education journey with equal footing. Some students who come from families with legal expertise inherently possess an advantage – the privilege of seeking guidance and advice from their legal connections. She emphasises the module’s importance for students without familial ties to the legal field: “We just thought about the people that came into law with no advice or background, all they know is that they wanna do law.”
Furthermore, the committee’s focus has extended to enhancing diversity and equality within the Law School Cabaret. The Law School Cabaret is an event that offers students a platform to craft scripts and skits related to the Law school. Previously, the screening of these scripts was the responsibility of the Law school’s faculty. However, Jane and the Student EDI Committee have initiated a collaborative effort with the lecturers. They are dedicated to participating in the script screening process, ensuring that the content aligns with contemporary societal standards to prevent any potential backlash. Jane elaborates, “It covers all the grounds if students collaborate with the faculty…We thought, what is the standard of what they think is offensive or not offensive? It is 2023, a lot of things have changed.”
Overcoming Challenges and Striving for Excellence:
Jane’s personal experiences, as a woman of colour from Galway, emphasised the importance of working diligently to overcome challenges and barriers. Her background did not include the advantages some students might have, making her journey a testament to determination and self-motivation. She believes that in a society where Trinity and Ireland strive to promote EDI, one still must work hard to stand out and be recognized. Jane reflects on her experiences, saying, “I had to do all of that myself”. She further adds, “I see myself working a bit more to make myself look more exceptional,” highlighting the extra effort required to overcome the hurdles and be truly seen in the legal profession.
Advice for Aspiring Advocates:
For those seeking to champion EDI within academic institutions and the legal field, Jane offers invaluable advice. She emphasises the need to have a personal reason for getting involved and stresses that EDI is about much more than just racism. She encourages individuals to ask themselves if they or those around them are being treated fairly and to recognize the need to work collectively for equality. Jane concludes with a powerful message, “It takes everyone to stand up, but people cannot only pursue it for the trend; there has to be a personal aspect.”
In conclusion, the interview with Jane Eghaghe highlights the importance of individuals like her who are actively working towards a more inclusive and diverse academic environment. The remarkable contributions of students like Jane, driving positive change within their communities and fields of study is truly inspiring. In a world that still grapples with inequality and discrimination, Jane’s determination and insights are a source of inspiration for us all.