“Anytime there’s a law and it’s wrong,” Sarah Deer told me during an interview in February, "you have to change the law.”
That’s how Deer’s mother explained to her how women finally earned the right to vote, and how Deer went on to approach her nationally known work changing laws to better protect American Indian women from sexual violence.
Deer got her undergraduate degree in women’s studies and philosophy and her law degree from KU. She’s a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and a 2014 national MacArthur Fellow. (Known as “MacArthur Geniuses,” winners receive no-strings-attached stipends of $625,000, paid over five years, which the Foundation says gives them freedom to “follow their own creative visions.”)
Deer is also back on the KU campus this fall as the 2016 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor. Her first of two public presentations is set for 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Green Hall, Room 104. In observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Deer will discuss sexual and domestic violence in Indian country. She’ll also give the Langston Hughes lecture at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Kansas Union ballroom.
There’s more about Deer and her work in this story, which I wrote when she was in town to give the KU February Sisters lecture earlier this year.
Deer’s work brings together several important and timely topics at KU, said law professor Elizabeth Kronk Warner, the law school’s associate dean of academic affairs and director of KU’s Tribal Law and Government Center.
“She has a legal perspective but she comes from Indian country,” Kronk Warner said. “She also brings new dimensions to that. She does work in trafficking … she also focuses on viewing things from a gender perspective, and domestic violence and sexual assault, which also are important issues for the university.”
According to KU’s Office of Diversity and Equity description, the Langston Hughes Professorship recruits prominent or emerging ethnic minority scholars to KU and aims “to engage in the campuswide symposium a variety of topics and issues that otherwise would not be possible.”
— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at email@example.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.
Posted on the KU School of Law's blog yesterday was this entry by Ashlyn Lindskog, a first-year student in the school, about how she balances being a newlywed and a law student at the same time and how the two experiences are kind of alike.
I’m a first-year law student and a second-year wife, and my priority is to not suck at either of them. It is a delicate balance. Sometimes the scales tip and I end up doing one better than the other, but thankfully my husband is more forgiving than my professors.
Law school has required her to elevate herself to a new level as a student just as marriage has required her to step up as a human, she says.
The essay is an easy read and impressively lacking in law-school jargon, and if you are now or have ever pursued graduate education while also attempting to maintain a life outside of school — or been married to someone trying to do so (I've got some experience there) — I think it will speak to you to some degree.