CSRRR research assistants foster race relations

Published: January 20th, 2011

Category: News

The Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations (CSRRR) has enabled two UF Law students to undertake the challenging task of fostering race-related dialogue within the academic community.

As research assistants for the center, Adrienne Biddings (3L) and Eferiekose Ukala (1L) have the opportunity to work with distinguished faculty, plan engaging events and inform others about the important role of race in society.

Biddings started working at the CSRRR in fall 2008. She became interested in the center’s activities after attending events including race conversations as a first-year law student.

“I liked the events that they held and the opportunities that they gave to the law school community,” Biddings said.

Biddings, who is working towards both a JD and a master’s degree in mass communications, is motivated by a desire to make a difference.

“When you come to your last year you want to get involved in more things you are passionate about and things that give you the opportunity to, at least before you go out there in the real world, give back,” she said.

Some law students get so caught up in their work, that they forget that there is a world outside of law school, Biddings said.

Ukala is looking forward to working with CSRRR Director Katheryn Russell-Brown, who has researched such issues as racial profiling and the effects of the interaction of race and justice.

“I think its going to contribute tremendously to my law school experience because the study of race and race relations is an area I’m really passionate about,” Ukala said.

Ukala has a personal interest in doing this kind of research. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on ethnocide in Nigeria.

“I particularly chose that because it was kind of close and the issue of Nigeria is not one that has been highly publicized,” Ukala said.

Ukala is also interested in studying international law to see how different countries attempt to bring themselves under one regulatory system, she said.

“I like to find answers, although research doesn’t always give you that definite answer, Ukala said. “It sort of points you in the right direction.”

“I chose UF Law because, besides Florida having the beautiful weather, it gave me the opportunity to study under very prominent faculty,” she said.

By serving as research assistants at the CSRRR, both Biddings and Ukala are able to investigate a variety of race-related issues. In fall 2008, Biddings helped Professor Michelle Jacobs coordinate a discussion about the role of race in the 2008 presidential election.

“I worked together with Professor Jacobs to come up with different questions and I interviewed people out in the law school community to get some topic areas,” Biddings said.

Biddings encourages her fellow law students to attend the center’s events and take advantage of its scholarships, oral competitions and writing competitions.

“The more people that know about it, the more willing they will be to give back and spread it around to other people that this is a great center at UF to be involved in,” she said. “I’m graduating soon. The center is going to be here forever.”