By Lori Atherton
August 13, 2015
Emily Suran, a 2015 Michigan Law graduate, has won this year's Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition sponsored by the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL). Her paper, "The Practice of Name Suppression: How the News Media Promotes the Stigmatization of Rape Victims and Perpetuates a Culture of Silence," will be published in an upcoming issue of the Women Lawyers Journal.
"It is a huge honor," Suran said, "and I was not at all expecting it. Being published is exciting and also a bit nerve-wracking. I care deeply about the law as it relates to gender inequities and I'm thrilled to have these opportunities to be a part of the academic and activist conversation."
This is Suran's second publication; her first was the student note "Title IX and Social Media: Going Beyond the Law," which was published in the Michigan Journal of Gender & Law in 2014.
Suran's paper examines how the news media covers stories about sexual violence. "My purpose in writing the paper was to show the connection between the suppression of names and the suppression of a subject matter," she said. "I propose that the industry reevaluate the legal and normative rationales for name suppression. The news media could play a huge role in dismantling the culture of silence, and I think abandoning the practice of name suppression would be a good start."
Suran originally wrote the piece for Professor Len Niehoff's Problems in Media Law seminar during her 2L year. Niehoff encouraged Suran to pursue her proposed thesis, even though she had some initial reservations about it. "I take a controversial stance in the paper, which worried me after I received some pushback from fellow students in the seminar," Suran said. "I actually considered scrapping the whole idea, but Professor Niehoff was extremely supportive of my research and reassured me that I had hit on a topic worthy of discussion. I decided to submit the paper because I am passionate about the subject, and I feel strongly that the media has an important role in shaping how we as a society handle sexual assault."
An incoming first-year associate in the Project Finance Group at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in New York City, Suran wants to use her legal career to further gender equity, particularly through policy work.
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