Future Lawyers for Human Rights is a new student organization whose mission is to educate individuals on ongoing human rights.–rights violations for the purpose of educating, assisting and guiding members.
On October 5, 2020, Future Lawyers for Human Rights officially became a new club on the Ithaca College campus. Junior Liza Dhameeth is the president and founder of the new club. She has a board of directors made up of five other juniors: Vice President Armani Sampat, Treasurer Khloe Krizek, Social Media Manager Hannah Frey and Secretary Trevor Britton. The club currently has around 30 members, Dhameeth said.
Dhameeth said she was inspired to form the club after conducting a research project for her freshman seminary class where she decided to focus on charity and philanthropy.
“It’s just something that is appreciated in my family and the Ithaca community,” Dhameeth said. “I discovered the importance of charity and philanthropy, and I found outlets where you can reach those in need by cutting out the middleman.”
She said her childhood is what inspired her keen interest in human rights.
“I have always had a passion for human rights,” said Dhameeth. “My family is from Sri Lanka, we are Sri Lankan Americans and there is a lot of connection to the Sri Lankan genocide, which is a huge human rights issue, so I have always been very passionate about it. It played a vital role in my education and my outlook on life. And just to understand that all human beings deserve basic human rights. “
The Civil war in Sri Lanka was Sinhala Buddhist–government dominated against Tamil rebels who wanted a separate state. The fighting killed around 100,000 people and left around 20,000 missing, mostly Tamils.
Craig Duncan, club advisor and teacher and chair of the philosophy and religion department, said he was excited about what the club will bring to the college.
“I think there is a real energy among the organizers to be active, bringing in speakers and organizing fundraising events,” Duncan said.
Duncan said he accepted the club adviser position after Dhameeth asked him because he knows her as a bright and dedicated student.
“I knew the club would be in good hands, and it’s about a subject that is an important subject – important for the world, but also important to me as an instructor, ”said Duncan. “So I gladly signed up as an advisor when asked. “
Duncan taught a variety of Classes that relate to human rights, including courses such as Introduction to Political Philosophy, Philosophical Problems of Law, Philosophical Problems of War and Terrorism, and the Philosophy and Practice of Human Rights.
He said he believed his experience discussing these topics could be a resource for the club.
“Human rights violations are among the worst kinds of moral violations that exist,” Duncan said. “It is important to be aware of this and to consider ways to stop and prevent such violations. I also think it is important to realize that human rights violations are not just a phenomenon that occurs “out there” in foreign countries. We must also be alert to abuses in our own country. “
All students are invited to join the Future Lawyers for Human Rights club, even if they are not in the process of pre-law.
Britton, an integrated marketing communications specialist, said he joined the club because of his passion for human rights.
“I joined Future Lawyers for Human Rights because it’s important to continue to lobby our representatives to support everyone’s rights,” Britton said via email.
Sampat said she joined the club early during the planning process. She said there had been many challenges running the club, including getting things done in a timely manner and raising awareness among members. Sampat said she was considering a career in law, which was one of the motivators to join the club.
She said that she is an Indian international student who worked in the field of human rights during her last year of high school.
“I was part of the student government,” Sampat said. “We planned an event where we gave 400 to 600 children access to a free health check. They met with a general practitioner, a dentist and an ophthalmologist. We planned it all out and it basically ensured that these children could be seen at least at some point in their lives without worrying about the expense of paying for health care. “
Dhameeth said the club is starting to attract members but is always looking for more.
Junior Madeline Miele is a member of the corps and said she joined the club because it matched her interest in social change.
“I’m interested in the justice system and how it’s not really a justice system,” Miele said. “It’s very unfair for some communities and that’s how it’s built. It affects poor communities and people of color far more than whites. ”
Dhameeth said the club also hopes to help support various organizations such as, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Human Rights Watch, organizing fundraisers and donating money to causes.
“If you are passionate about human rights and care about the experience of others and want to make sure that others have the same rights as us in the United States, then you are ready to join us. “said Dhameeth.