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CUNY Law dean who applauded ‘hate-filled’ commencement speaker developed race-related courses at last post

The dean of CUNY’s law school, who was among those to applaud the recent “hate-filled” commencement speech delivered by a graduate, previously spearheaded the creation of a race-related coursework requirement at her last job.

Before being tapped as head of CUNY’s law school last July, Sudha Setty — who has a history of advocating for “social justice lawyering” — spent four years leading the Western New England University’s legal faculty in Massachusetts and another 12 years as a faculty member.

In her role there as dean, Setty was behind the establishment of the “Antiracism and Cultural Competency” graduating requirement for the university’s students.

The graduating requirement, which was adopted by the law school in April 2021, included courses that were titled “Race, Racism & the Law” and “Business Law from an Antiracist Perspective.”

After starting out at the Big Apple-based Davis, Polk and Wardwell law firm, where she worked from 1999 to 2006, the majority of Setty’s legal career has been rooted in educating upcoming lawyers.

Sudha Setty
CUNY Law School

In an Aug. 2022 promoting her new role as dean, Setty — a graduate of Columbia Law School — noted the best part about being a dean was helping to lead other educators in fulfilling a law school’s mission.

“At CUNY, that mission is social justice lawyering and tackling the structural barriers to justice that exist in so many contexts. Being part of those endeavors is a gift, and I come to this work with gratitude,” she said.

Asked what she hoped to accomplish as CUNY’s Law School dean, Setty said she wanted to promote “more leaders who are doing important social justice work in the law.”

CUNY School of Law
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“One of the things that a CUNY Law education is giving people is not just the ability to represent individuals and effect change through individual client representation,” she continued. “It’s also looking at things structurally, understanding both the context and history of that structure and considering how and when to push for reform and revision.”

The dean added: “We should be looking to put people on the bench, or legislators in office, or leaders at nonprofit organizations, or wherever we can to really start to effectuate change on the larger scale and help people in those institutions rethink what they are doing.”

Setty was among the CUNY faculty members who was seated on stage when graduate Fatima Mousa Mohammed called for a “revolution” to take on the legal system’s “white supremacy” during her May 12 commencement speech.

Fatima Mousa Mohammed

In the speech, which has been ripped by critics as “hate-filled” and divisive, Mohammed praised CUNY for supporting student activism — but said the school still failed students by supporting such institutions as the NYPD and US military.

It isn’t clear if Setty had prior knowledge of what Mohammed’s speech entailed — or if she supported it.

The dean was, however, captured on a livestream of the ceremony clapping as the future lawyer concluded the controversial address.

Setty didn’t immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment Tuesday.