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First grad award given to student noted for ‘courage’ and pioneering spirit

May 14, 2010

President James Doti, Tiffany Chang, winner of of Outstanding Graduate Student award, and Ronald L. Steiner, associate professor, School of Law.

A third-year law student, who pioneered a group concerned with gay rights after others had failed, was awarded Chapman’s first Outstanding Graduate Student award.

Tiffany Chang, who graduates from the law school next week, was presented the award at the recent Campus Leadership Awards.

Chang was nominated for the award by Katherine B. Darmer, professor, School of Law, and Jayne Kacer, Assistant Dean of Student and Alumni Affairs and a member of the law school faculty, who praised Chang for her “courage and strength.”

Kacer recalled that Chang, upon transferring to Chapman from New York Law School, was the only student to raise her hand at an orientation and ask how to start the student group.

While Kacer endorsed the idea, she also warned Chang that two previous attempts at such a group had failed, not from controversy but for lack of interest.

Chang was undeterred. She started OutLaw, a student group for LGBT students and their straight allies, in the fall of 2008.  The group soon hosted a legal forum on same-sex marriage in advance of the November 2008 election on Proposition 8.  When Proposition 8 passed, Outlaw hosted another forum, Prop 8 Passed—Now What, with Tiffany as one of the primary speakers.

OutLaw was even named as an amici in an amicus brief submitted to the California Supreme Court in Strauss v. Horton, the lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The brief was authored and signed by more than 15 Chapman University professors and administrators and President Jim Doti later petitioned the Supreme Court to join as an amici.

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