Briefing Room


Diversity award goes to Moritz again

May 2, 2013 | Students

Nikki Trautman Baszynski, a member of the Class of 2013, was named a recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award, a University-wide award that recognizes individuals or units that have demonstrated a significant commitment to enhancing diversity at The Ohio State University.

During her time at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Baszynski has broadened the cultural horizons of her peers by bringing diversity issues to the forefront of her law school experience.

In 2011, she helped lead the initiative for the student group SPEAK, which aims to enhance diversity and create an open dialogue about diversity issues across Moritz.

“SPEAK has been very important, and I’m very grateful that it’s been made possible through the support of so many students and staff,” Baszynski, the executive director of SPEAK, said during a surprise award presentation in her honor on April 15.

SPEAK became a group project in Professor Nancy H. Rogers’ Dispute System Design workshop during the 2011-12 academic year and has since then grown into a dispute system students hope will affirm identity, build community, and cultivate leadership. The group also seeks ways to create maximum benefits for diversity at the law school by encouraging students to engage in difficult conversations about multiculturalism.

“We take great pride in diversity being a part of our excellence. (Nikki has) taken a leadership role in making sure that it’s not just a motto,” Dean Alan C. Michaels, the Edwin M. Cooperman Professor of Law, said during the April 15 award presentation in Drinko Hall.

In her nomination letter, Rogers wrote: “Nikki Baszynski entered her second year of law school last year with an idea and uncommon determination. She will graduate this spring, leaving a unique legacy – an ongoing organization that takes advantage of the diverse educational context to enhance understanding and empathy across identity groups.”

Because SPEAK is capitalized, people often ask what it stands for. “We stand for open and honest communication and reflection,” Baszynski explained in a 2012 article for e-Record, the weekly newsletter for students, faculty, and staff at Moritz.

Baszynski is also a member of the Moritz Education Law Society, which aims to bring awareness to issues surrounding the intersection of law and education. Baszynski has a background in education, as she was a founding teacher at the Columbus Collegiate Academy and is a Teach for America alumna.

This is the second consecutive year that the Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award has celebrated the Moritz community. In 2012, the student-led group OutLaws was recognized for its efforts in promoting awareness and understanding of legal issues affecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

T.K. Brady and Monica DeMeglio