Monthly Archives

June 2013

Mission in Action, Uncategorized

Mission in Action: Promoting Respect for Human Rights

Guest Blogger: Jessica Slattery Karich (’06)
Foreign Affairs Office, United States Department of State

JessicaTake a moment and close your eyes.  Imagine you are a young woman living in South Asia.  You come from poverty and have little access to education.  You find work as a seamstress making sweaters and jackets in a large, overcrowded factory in the densely populated city center.  You make roughly $30 a month, working 12-hour days, and most often you’re not given breaks or overtime pay.  As you walk into work one morning, you take in your surroundings—the walls of the building are cracking and the ceiling above you is groaning beneath the many layers of ad hoc structures on the factory roof.

Suddenly, you hear screams and smoke begins to fill the room.  You panic and join a stampede of women desperate to escape.  The only emergency exit is blocked by a mound of highly flammable fabrics, which is rapidly engulfed in flames.  There are no sprinkler systems, no extinguishers, no fire escapes, and the city’s emergency vehicles cannot reach the building because of poor roadway infrastructure.  As the black smoke fills your lungs and your vision begins to blur you think you see people jumping from the windows in a dangerous attempt to save their own lives.  You drop to your hands and knees, crawling with your shoulder brushing against the wall until you reach the unmistakable indentation of a door frame.  You muster the strength to come to your feet and grip the scalding metal door handle . . .

Unfortunately, horrific working conditions can be all-too-common in some parts of the world.  In fact, there are 215 million estimated child laborers, and about 115 million of them work in hazardous conditions.   Today, 21 million people are victims of forced labor, 90 percent of whom are exploited by private enterprise and 10 percent by the state or rebel military groups.  Further, 27 million men, women, and children are victims of “human trafficking,” including 6 million children forced into labor or sexual exploitation.

As a human rights officer in the U.S. Department of State I work to promote respect for human rights, embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including fundamental worker rights and labor standards.  A central goal of U.S. foreign policy is to promote global human rights.  When human rights are protected, it helps secure peace and security, promote the rule of law, strengthen democracies, combat crime and corruption, and prevent and alleviate humanitarian crises.   In my work I engage governments to encourage accountability to universal human rights norms and international human rights instruments and work to incorporate the voices of civil society into candid conversations about worker rights.  I also advocate ethical sourcing and work with companies to ensure visibility into their global supply chain.

So when you lay your head on your pillowcase tonight be mindful that young children may have picked the cotton from Central Asian fields, a South Asian woman toiling under dreadful working conditions may have sewn your nightgown, and the jewelry on your bedside table may contain gold mined by trafficked children in Africa.  The State Department and our human rights officers actively implement a variety of strategies and tools to promote and protect human rights worldwide, including fundamental worker rights, and it is my honor to work among them. In this way, I am living the social justice mission of the University of St. Thomas, School of Law

To read more on global human rights see the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, the State Department’s Human Rights Reports, and the Department of Labor’s Child Labor Reports,

Diversity, Faculty Perspective

Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline: An Exploration of Innovative Ways to Create Pipelines to Success

Dr. Artika R. Tyner’s research on the school to prison pipeline has inspired Central High School students to take action and serve as engineers of social change.  This past fall, several students from Central High School Touring Theater attended Dr. Tyner’s lecture entitled: “Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline: Research and

Dr. Artika Tyner and Members of the Central Touring Theater

Dr. Artika Tyner and Members of the Central Touring Theater

Recommendations for Creating New Pipelines to Success” which was sponsored by St. Paul Public School’s Multicultural Resource Center. This presentation focused on education as a civil rights issue by exploring the disproportionate impact of school disciplinary policies on students of color and critically examining the emergence of the school to prison pipeline. The purpose of this presentation was to begin a dialogue on the equity issues underlying the disproportionate representation of students of color, in particular African American students, in school disciplinary proceedings and juvenile detention. For instance, fifteen percent of the Saint Paul School District’s black students were suspended at least once last year — five times more than white students. In addition, these disciplinary referrals may lead to a pathway into the school to prison pipeline for students of color since school referrals make up roughly 20% of the cases in Minnesota’s juvenile justice system. Racial disparities are also apparent in the rate of referral to the juvenile justice system and the associated detention outcomes. In the context of juvenile justice, youth of color and American Indian youth comprise only 17 percent of 10-17 year olds in Minnesota however they account for 35% of juvenile arrests and 45 percent of cases that result in juvenile detention.

This phenomenon has been characterized as the school to prison pipeline. “This funneling of students out of school and into the streets and the juvenile correction system perpetuates a cycle known as the ‘School-to-Prison-Pipeline,’ depriving children and youth of meaningful opportunities for education, future employment, and participation in our democracy” (NAACP Legal Defense Fund).

The students in attendance shared this information with their colleagues and developed a production, Training Day. It explores the challenges that high school students face both inside and outside the classroom with topics ranging from depression to racism. In the context of educational disparities and racial equity, the students masterfully created a piece called: “In the Hallway.” This piece brings to life the content of Dr. Tyner’s earlier lecture by focusing on the growing rate of referrals from the classroom to the courtroom, harsher disciplinary penalties experienced by students of color (in comparison with their white peers), and the lasting impact of a juvenile record due to collateral consequences. The students share their firsthand experiences of observing the impacts of the pipeline and/or being entangled in the pipeline themselves.

These students passion for social justice has inspired community members, teachers and other young people across the state to take action by dismantling the school to prison pipeline. Under the leadership of Ms. Jan Mandell and her team, the students have reached over 10,000 people to promote a community discussion and compel action to remedy this social issue. These students have challenged audience members to become informed and engaged on this civil rights issue in order to eradicate the racial disparities in school disciplinary actions and referrals to the juvenile justice system. Hence, the members of the Central Touring Theater have demonstrated the power of young people to serve as leader and transform their communities.

(Sources: Teacher frustrated with debate over suspensions, By: Daarel Burneette II; Minnesota’s racial disparities: A judge’s view, By: Lucy Wieland (April 17, 2011) Link:; “Leading for Racial Equity An Emerging Agenda for Minnesota,” Link:

Community, Mission in Action, Service

Mission in Action: UST Law Graduates Recognized by MN State Bar Association for Pro Bono Legal Service

Many University of St. Thomas School of Law graduates have a passion and commitment to serving low income clients and providing pro bono service to the community. For the first time, the Minnesota State Bar Association recognized North Star Lawyers. North Star Lawyers each provided at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services in 2012. Thirty-one UST Law graduates were recognized as 2012 North Star Lawyers:

Pamela Abbate-Dattilo (’09)

Phillip Ashfield (’08)

Michael Boulette (’10)

Victoria Jacobson Brenner (’04)

Audrey Burnett (’10)

Erin Collins (’08)

Erin Knapp Darda (’07)

Ryan Else (’11)

Kellen Fish (’10)

Beth Forsythe (’06)

Nicole Frank (’08)

Matthew Frerichs (’04)

Nathan Kumagai (’08)

John Lindemann (’04)

Allison Maxim (’05)

Gloria Myre (’07)

Kate Nilan (’06)

Bree Peterson (’09)

Colin Peterson (’09)

Andrew Pieper (’08)

Lindsay Popovich (’04)

Rebecca Ribich (’05)

Breia Schleuss (’08)

Joel Schroeder (’04)

John Scully (’10)

Jeffrey Smith (’06)

Brock Specht (’07)

Katrina Viegas (’10)

Michael Warren (’04)

Barbara Weckman Brekke (’05)

Bryce Young (’10)

**For the graduates with a hyperlink, you may view their profile on UST Law Lawyer Search (

UST Law congratulates these alumni on their recognition by the MSBA and is in awe of their incredible service to communities and individuals in need. To learn more about the North Star Lawyer recognition and to view a complete list of the 2012 North Star Lawyers, visit

Community, Mission in Action

Mission in Action: Teddy Michel (’07)

While discerning what my next legal chapter should be, I sought the assistance and guidance of our 4.5 year old.  After all, if he can predict how his 2 year old sister will behave when mommy and daddy try and put sunscreen on her, (she’s not going to like that), why can’t he predict my next legal step?

And so the other night while reading books, I asked him, “What should daddy’s job be?”  To which he replied without hesitation, “Your job is to be a daddy.”

I am very blessed, fortunate and grateful that I have spent my early legal career working in legal services and currently as a law clerk.  Every single person I have worked with has been supportive of allowing me to be a dad.  From my days at legal services when our office manager had a pack-and-play in her office because three of us had young children to now being able to leave work to attend appointments and preschool performances, I thank the good Lord every day for all of the good people in my life.

So what will my next legal chapter be?  I have no idea.  Like so many young families, I’m too busy picking up cheerios and chasing down kids to put sunscreen on.  I am, however, thinking of what game show to audition for next.  Any suggestions?

Teddy Michel is a graduate of the UST Law Class 2007 and he received his B.A. from UST in 1999.  Upon graduating from UST in 1999, Teddy spent a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Anchorage, Alaska where he met his wife Cindy.  While in Alaska, Teddy served as a case manager for the Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association where he assisted in the provision of case management services to individuals living with HIV.  Subsequent to marrying Cindy in 2002, Teddy and Cindy spent a second year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Nashville, TN where Teddy worked as a job developer for newly arrived refugees and immigrants.

 Teddy resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Cindy, and their two children.  While in law school, Teddy co-founded Alumni Reflections with UST’s alumni office, participated in the Clinic, and was a member of the St. Thomas More Society.  Following law school, Teddy worked as a staff attorney with North Penn Legal Services for four years.  He recently became a Federal Law Clerk for the Honorable James M. Mulney. Teddy is an active member of the law alumni community, most recently serving for several years as a member of the Law Alumni Annual Giving Committee.


Living the Mission Daily: Paul Haverstock ’10

There are a lot of good law schools.  St. Thomas stands out among them for having a faith-based mission.  That’s why I chose to go to here: I wanted to be in a place where academic excellence was encouraged to draw from the Christian, and specifically, Catholic intellectual tradition.  It takes courage to be a place that officially invokes Catholic tradition in today’s cultural climate.

It also takes courage to be a priest.  After graduating from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2010, I entered Catholic seminary in the hopes of someday serving God and the Church as a priest of Jesus Christ.  Persuing this path means freely giving up the possibility of getting married and having a biological family.  It will also require promising obedience to my bishop and his successors: in other words, someone else will get to decide where I go and what I do.  Why would someone willingly choose this path?

Because God is real.  And, because He is worth giving everything up for.  These two points are true for every person, whether they are Catholic or not; whether they believe in God or not.  He’s there, and He loves each person.  He loves us just exactly as we are.  And at the same time, He wants us to change, so that we can become the kind of people who are capable of being happy with Him, in His all-holy presence, for eternity.  Everyone likes the first part (God loves us), and nobody, including me, likes the second part (we need to change and repent).

What does this have to do with law school?  Well, UST Law has a non-traditional mission, and I’m certainly on a non-traditional path for graduates of UST Law (or any law school).  I didn’t go to law school thinking that I would enter seminary: that decision  gradually emerged out of prayer, but it was aided by the faith-friendly atmosphere of UST Law, especially in the form of daily mass and the presence of priests and committed Christians on the faculty.

After finishing two years of philosophy studies at St. Paul Seminary, I am now in Rome doing my first of four years of theology, along with 250 other men from around the United States, Canada, and Australia.  Our residence overlooks St. Peter’s basilica and the Vatican, providing a constant reminder of the fact that our unity comes through our loyalty to the successor of Peter: the Pope. God-willing, I’ll be ordained a priest in 2016, when I look forward to giving back to God out of the abundance of gifts He’s given me, not the least of which I count to be my time spent at our alma mater.

Please keep me in your prayers!  UST Law remains in mine too, especially in this exciting time of new leadership. (Congratulations to Dean Vischer!)

Grateful to God and Alma Mater,