Building community at KU Law

The KU Law Class of 2025 has arrived at Green Hall and after a five-day orientation “boot-camp,” classes are underway.

The past couple of years of orientation events have been online, outside or split up, but now students are back in person for their introduction to KU Law. At 137 strong, the Class of 2025 is one of the largest in the past several years. To help the new students get acquainted with Kansas and the city of Lawrence, KU Law has arranged several community-building activities.

“We’ve discovered over the last several years that the coronavirus had become an obstacle to community-building within the law school. And with in-person events put on hold, some of our most valued traditions had fallen by the wayside. Our hope is to give our students, particularly the entering students, an opportunity to build connections so that they can be supportive of one another,” Dean Stephen Mazza said.

Faculty and staff at KU Law picked out some of their favorite local places and pastimes. From live music to hikes, art gallery visits, shopping, picnics and more, students could sign up for the activities that they were interested in.

“This presented a great opportunity to host small gatherings centered around faculty and staff favorites, and to welcome and introduce our new students to lovely Lawrence, Kansas,” said Leah Terranova, associate dean for academic and student affairs.

“In addition to introducing the 1Ls to one another – and addressing those first-day jitters – it offered us all a chance to rebuild our sense of community, which has been challenging during the pandemic,” Terranova said.

One of the crowd favorites was a tour of “Larryville’s Best Cheap Eats” with Dean Mazza. Along the way, a group of students visited reasonably priced Lawrence favorites such as Burrito King, Taco Zone and Munchers Bakery.

A Group of Students and Dean Mazza at Munchers Bakery

“What better way to build community than to show students where to grab the best burrito in town (Burrito King is my choice) and the best donut (I’m a fan of Munchers but not that picky when it comes to a donut),” Mazza said.

The welcome activities spread throughout orientation and the first couple of days of classes. People had the opportunity to go out and enjoy live music at a winery, compete in a corn-hole tournament, visit the Lawrence farmer’s market and enjoy a cup of coffee.

“It was a wonderful way to set the tone and invite students to find healthy balance and joy in their law student experience,” Terranova said. “Our faculty did a great job modeling for new law students how to decompress in nature, seek out art and fulfillment and remember that there is more to their law school experience than just school.”

By Sarah Pickel