TU law students resurrect Hispanic student group

Monday, September 24, 2007

Published on 9/24/07

¬With the Hispanic community in Tulsa and throughout Oklahoma enduring much angst, third-year TU law student Luis Flores wanted to take the initiative to create an environment at the law school which incoming Hispanic students would find supportive.

Flores, who was born in Mexico City and grew up in Houston, was encouraged to learn Hispanic enrollment at the law school is up with the incoming class. He also saw an opportunity to reach out to Tulsa’s underrepresented Hispanic community.

Flores worked closely with fellow TU law students Ulysses Vargas (1L, Denver, Colo.) and Velia Lopez (3L, San Antonio, Texas), and Elizabeth McCormick, an assistant professor at the law school’s Boesche Legal Clinic and an expert in immigration law, to reestablish the Hispanic Law Student Association.

“We (Flores, Vargas, Lopez and McCormick) had heard there would be more Hispanic students coming to the law school this fall, so we were in contact all summer working to have the organization up and running when classes started,” Flores said. “Hispanics are still in the minority in the law school, but we want to make sure it’s an active minority.”

He said the group’s primary focus will be on community service by creating forums for open discussion of topics relating to the Hispanic community and ensuring members of that community have current and correct information regarding their legal rights and protections.

Despite the obvious draw for Hispanic students, Flores said the group’s membership is roughly half non-Hispanic. In fact, the HLSA secretary, Fahed Al-Rawaf (3L) was born and raised in Damascus, Syria by a Saudi Arabian father and a Syrian mother before attending the University of Arkansas as an undergraduate.

McCormick serves as the faculty adviser and said she was drawn to the HLSA by the students’ desire to reach out into the community.

“I think it’s important to remember the College of Law is part of this community,” she said. “It is part of the law school’s and the University’s mission to reach out and serve the Kendall Whittier neighborhood and the whole community. I think this is a tremendous opportunity for the students – who understand the Hispanic community in Tulsa is not defined exclusively by the current immigration debate – to open up an important conversation and to highlight the tremendous contributions the Hispanic community makes to Oklahoma and the rest of the country.”