In observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Black Law Students Association at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus hosted an Equal Access to Justice Day program about implicit bias.
“Learning to See Clearly: The Presence and Power of Implicit Bias,” was presented by Dr. Agustin V. Arbulu, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Additionally, sociologists from Oakland University used the board game “Monopoly” to demonstrate the negative impact that racial and gender bias has on success.
Pictured (front row, left-right) Katherine Cooper, student; Dr. Agustin V. Arbulu, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights; Laurie Aaron, Black Law Students Association president; (back row, left-right) Ieisha Humphrey, Enrollment Programs and Student Services Director; Professor Martha Moore, faculty advisor for the Black Law Students Association; John Edwards, student; Joseph Ezeoke, student; and Associate Dean Joan Vestrand.
Before joining the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, Arbulu held senior management and leadership positions in the manufacturing, healthcare and nonprofit sectors. He also served 15 years as a practicing attorney specializing in corporate, business and tax law. Arbulu has taught graduate-level courses on organizational leadership, change management, finance and strategy. In January 2013, Arbulu was appointed to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission by Gov. Rick Snyder. He held the office of secretary until he was named department director in October 2015.
Arbulu spoke about how Michigan can build communities that are more inclusive and allow all residents access to equitable opportunity to grow and thrive. He noted the Michigan Department of Civil Rights has identified steps to help create inclusiveness throughout the state. “The pillars to inclusiveness include making racial equity the goal, understanding the importance of implicit bias, and using implicit bias to tear down systemic racism,” said Arbulu.
Equal Access to Justice Day, as initiated by WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc, suspends classes in observance of MLK Day. Students, faculty and staff devote the day to reflect and attend programs on the role of law and lawyers in protecting the right of everyone and assuring equal access to justice.