Spotlight: The Middle Eastern and South Asian Law Students Association Students have launched a new affinity group to support Middle Eastern and South Asian students during law school.
Students have launched a new affinity group to support Middle Eastern and South Asian students during law school. Co-presidents Sandra Makeen ’25L and Arianna Kiaei ’25L share more about this new student organization, one of the over 30 active student groups at W&L Law.
Tell us a little bit about the Organization: mission, goals, etc.
MESALSA fosters a community of support and understanding for students of Middle Eastern and South Asian backgrounds. As the organization grows, we hope to share our lived experiences and celebrate our cultures with the student body. The organization serves as a vessel of visibility for a niche group of people who are often glanced over or not given the opportunity to showcase their individuality. Often times, people of color are grouped under an overarching “non-white” label, but organizations like this allow us to break that narrative and embrace our differences as we establish ourselves in the legal field.
What prompted the start of this organization?
The organization was founded with the motivation to fill the gap in representation among affinity groups on campus. There was not a group specifically for Middle Eastern, North African, or South Asian students. As people of color are often grouped under the overarching “non-white” label, other affinity groups within the law school came to house us in our search for community. Noticing that there was not a specified space for us, we came together to create a community for ourselves to better utilize the purpose of an affinity group. The organization is to be a space to celebrate our cultures and share our experiences as we navigate our legal careers.
How many law students are currently involved? If so, what is everyone looking forward to in this new organization?
Currently, we have seven members. As the founding group, we are excited to congregate and create a shared sense of cultural community in Lexington, VA. In the future, we hope to connect with law students and legal practitioners across the country at various Middle Eastern-, North African-, and South Asian-in-law conferences.
Do you have any events coming up in the spring?
This spring, we look forward to celebrating Ramadan and Nowrooz (Persian New Year).
Can alumni get involved?
Yes, we welcome any alumnus who is willing to share their experiences as a Middle Eastern, North African, or South Asian member of the legal community!
Is there anything else to share about the organization?
We hope that the existence of our organization will speak to others in the law school and to prospective students of shared cultures who can find comfort in knowing they will have a strong support system here at W&L.