Pro Bono News

Administration has Duty to Provide Legal Aid to Students

Friday, February 16, 2018

Administration has Duty to Provide Legal Aid to Students 

"When Student Senate first included questions about legal aid in our spring 2016 referendum, we found that about one in seven students has required some form of legal assistance during their time at Oberlin. Given that even “minor” legal issues can have a devastating impact on a student’s academic performance and mental health, this data gave us senators cause for concern. For a few years now, Student Senate has advocated for the establishment of a student legal aid office at Oberlin to account for this largely unseen hindrance to student success.

Currently, there are about 350 colleges nationwide that offer some form of legal aid. The push for student legal services began in the 1960s as part of the larger students’ rights movement. Since then, the scope of student legal aid has expanded dramatically because of the changing demographics of college campuses. Student bodies have diversified by almost every metric, and with these changes comes a wider range of legal needs.
As it stands, Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo has maintained a referral list of attorneys in the Northeast Ohio region for students seeking counsel. While this is certainly helpful, we want to build on this work to create a more accessible model for actual legal services on campus. Because of the lack of reliable transportation to anywhere outside the city of Oberlin, as well as the considerable financial barriers to obtaining legal assistance, we believe it is the responsibility of the college administration to provide such services where they are lacking, for both ethical and practical reasons..."

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