‘Home away from home’: IU Maurer Black Law Students Association earns national recognition

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IU Maurer Black Law Students Association President Nashuba Hudson holds the group’s plaque for Midwest Chapter of the Year, surrounded by other BLSA members. (Photo courtesy of Hudson)

A student group at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law is getting national attention after winning an award.

The IU Maurer Black Law Students Association was recognized as Midwest Chapter of the Year earlier this month. The group received the award at the Midwest BLSA Regional Convention out of dozens of chapters at law schools from Colorado to Ohio.

“Our Black Law Students Association isn’t just one of the best in the Midwest, it’s one of the best in the country,” IU Maurer Dean Christiana Ochoa said in a news release. “Congratulations to Nashuba Husdon, the executive board, and all who have helped make this chapter such a strong organization.”

Nashuba Hudson

Nashuba Hudson, an IU Maurer 2L and president of BLSA, said she was excited and emotional when she learned that the group had won Midwest Chapter of the Year. Hudson wasn’t able to be at the convention in Detroit to receive the award, but other board members called her immediately to tell her the news.

For Hudson, the win was about more than the award itself. It was also about bringing the award back to IU Maurer’s BLSA, which had previously been a consecutive-year winner.

“It was actually a goal for me as the president and for our board to be able to bring this award back in and hopefully be able to start a new streak,” she said.

Creating community

To Hudson, the value of the Bloomington law school’s BLSA is the community it creates.

“One of the central values that I base my presidency on is making sure that we continue to foster and build and strengthen that community that we have, along with providing or leveraging that community to provide opportunities for the members, especially the 1Ls who are very much tender in the environment and are just kind of wide-eyed, bushy-browed in terms of everything the legal profession has to offer and navigate,” she said, “so ensuring that those individuals know that this community is here for them and that we can serve as a resource and just could be a connection to provide other resources.”

In the 2023-24 school year, the association has hosted dozens of events and will be hosting the Rapheal M. Prevot, Jr. Barristers’ Ball in March.

Ramatou Soumare

Ramatou Soumare, a 2L, serves on the BLSA board as director of programming. She said she felt really proud to earn the award and know that the programs she helps plan were making an impact.

“Getting that award was just a testament to the hard work that we’re putting in as a board to put on not just fun programming, but intentional programming,” Soumare said. “So it was just great to have that recognized and to know that the programs that we are putting on are impactful in some way.”

Looking ahead, Soumare said the goal is to keep doing what they’re doing and to make BLSA feel like a “home away from home.”

“Just making sure that we’re continuing to make it welcoming and inclusive and providing professional development resources and things that a lot of us don’t have access to on our own,” she said.

1Ls and first-gens

Samantha Jean

Samantha Jean, a 2L who serves as vice president of BLSA, noted there are many members who are first-generation law students.

“It provides an outlet and it helps to navigate a professional legal setting and sort of give a bit of a guide to something that we would otherwise just be playing a guessing game with,” Jean said.

She added that their roster includes more than 50 students, several of whom are “ally members,” or non-Black members who support Black students. Many are from other minority groups within the law school.

“It just helps to sort of have a community, and I think specifically for our chapter here in Bloomington — Bloomington isn’t exactly the most diverse place,” Jean said.

BLSA has two 1L representatives, Jaelyn Guiton and Kae Dilworth.

Jaelyn Guiton

Guiton said she chose to join after she met Hudson in a hallway, where Hudson asked if she was going to a call-out meeting.

“She showed me around the school a little bit,” Guiton said. “My favorite thing about it is just how welcoming and how friendly everybody is in the chapter.”

One thing Guiton would like to see more of from BLSA is increased interactions with the pre-law group at IU.

“I think it would be really beneficial both to them to have some mentorship, and also, I feel like it feels great to be a mentor yourself. I think it would be a two-way, benefit having that in the future,” she said.

For her part, Dilworth said, “It’s definitely an amazing organization, not only in just providing representation for people of color in the legal field, because that’s very minute. But it’s great for providing representation (and) has amazing resources, which historically haven’t been received by underrepresented minorities, especially within the legal field.”•

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