Hamline News

Students Organize Successful Access to Justice Conference


Hamline University hosted the student-led Access to Justice Conference on Friday, November 2 for over 170 people. 

The all-day event was an opportunity to discuss and engage with community experts about different barriers that exist in our justice system, specifically focusing on how these barriers affect marginalized groups of people.

A team of seven students from Hamline, St. Kate’s and Macalester worked tirelessly for five busy months to make this event the huge success that it was. The conference hosted students from 18 different colleges and sold out altogether.

The idea for a collaborative event that invited students from neighboring universities and colleges initiated when senior Conner Suddick met St. Kate’s student Andrea Duarte-Alonso through their process of being nominated as Truman Scholars last year. They merged their interests in immigration and creating alternative legal service models to the Access to Justice Conference.

“The major impetus behind this whole program was the fact that we all work within our campus communities, while there are over 18 different schools within an hour radius of us in which we don’t collaborate with as much as we should.” said Suddick. “We want to use the success of this conference to demonstrate the opportunities that can happen when people from different schools come learn and experience together.”

The six panels include topics on immigration, criminal justice, sexuality and gender, legal services, civil rights, and racial justice. Suddick pointed out that every panel topic was related to national headlines. Topical panels and notable speakers contributed to the success of conference. 

The keynote address was by Jason Sole, a criminal justice adjunct professor at Hamline and Director of Community-First Public Safety for the City of St. Paul. His speech, “Re-Imagining Justice: Utilizing Community-defined Evidence to Create Safer Communities” was highly relevant to his new role and to the attendees.

The conference was generously sponsored by the Hamline’s Department of Legal Studies, Political Science, Sociology, the Hamline University Social Justice Program, the Hamline University Center for Justice and Law, the Hamline Undergraduate Student Congress, the Hamline Ridgway Forum Fund, and Macalester MPIRG.

Written by Autumn Vagle, Emma Larson
Photography by Sophie Warrick