AUWCL Orientation Kicks Off on Campus with IMBY, Welcome from Dean Roger Fairfax

Aug. 8, 2021

Dean Roger A. Fairfax
Dean Roger A. Fairfax

American University Washington College of Law welcomed its newest members to DC and the AUWCL campus this week for JD Orientation, bringing together 1L students to meet new law school Dean Roger A. Fairfax, volunteer throughout the local community, and hear from DC At-Large Councilmember Robert White.

The week kicked off with “In My Back Yard” (IMBY) Public Service Day, organized by AUWCL’s Office of Public Interest and Public Interest/Public Service (PIPS) Scholars Beck Sigman, Julie McGinnty, Kency Nittler, Matt Sokol, Patrick Riley, and Sarah Kerman.

IMBY brings 1L students together with faculty and staff to volunteer in Washington, DC neighborhoods. The annual event allows new students to get out, see the city, and meet classmates, while returning students, faculty, and staff can reconnect with their community and meet new faces.

Volunteer activities included bagging groceries with We Are Family DC, making sandwiches at Martha’s Table, organizing clothing for A Wider Circle, and working at Franciscan Monastery Farm. Other organizations IMBY participants volunteered at included:

Students volunteer at Martha's Table, stand by van with logo.
Students volunteer at Martha's Table.
  • Anacostia Riverkeeper
  • Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC)
  • Bread for the City
  • Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB)
  • Community Family Life Services
  • DC Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Dreaming Out Loud
  • Food & Friends
  • Free Minds Book Club
  • Friendship Place
  • Girls on the Run
  • Housing Up
  • Nourish Now
    Students sort clothing at A Wider Circle.
    Students sort clothing at A Wider Circle.
  • Rock Creek Conservancy
  • School Without Walls
  • Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition
  • Truesdell Education Campus
  • WCL Community Garden

“IMBY serves as an introduction to the importance of public service at WCL,” said 3L Kency Nittler. “Engaging in public service helps us as students connect to the area in which we live and go to school. It also provides an opportunity to learn more about the needs of the broader DC community and how we, as members of that community, can help fill those needs."

The following day, 1L students were formally welcomed to the AUWCL community by Dean Roger A. Fairfax – a prominent legal scholar, educator, and nationally known expert on criminal justice – who joined the law school July 1.

Incoming students take professional oath.
Incoming students take professional oath.

“I feel a particular bond with this class, as we are starting this journey together,” Fairfax told the students. “I feel so blessed and honored to be associated with such a special and accomplished class.”

Fairfax encouraged students to take advantage of AUWCL’s programs, expert faculty, and alumni network, but also the law school’s location in the nation’s capital.

“Our footprint in DC, across the country, and around the world is one of the things that makes WCL so special,” Fairfax noted. “You really are in the right place at the right time. I want to thank you, and congratulate you, on your choice to become part of this special WCL community and we look forward to getting to know you and work with you, and welcome you to the WCL family.”

Dean Fairfax and Councilmember White engage in conversation about DC and law school.
Dean Fairfax and Councilmember White engage in conversation about DC and law school.

At-Large Councilmember and AUWCL alum Robert White ’07 also welcomed the 1L students to the city, discussing his own orientation experience, the DC housing crisis, his journey into politics, the District’s love for Go-Go music and Mumbo sauce, and the city’s admiration for former mayor Marion Barry.

“This is a beautiful, incredible city with a unique and rich history. Avoid pilgrim syndrome,” White told the students. “There are no new neighborhoods in DC. If you visit or move to a neighborhood, you didn’t discover it. Find out why it’s special, and the history of it.”

Following the conversation, students were welcomed by SBA President Rafiat "Lola" Abdulai and partook in the professional oath, administered by Adjunct Professor Dale Durrer, Circuit Court Judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit in the Commonwealth of Virginia.