On April 10, the BC Law Black Alumni Network (BAN) and the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) held their annual Ruth-Arlene Howe Heritage Banquet. As BLSA incoming co-presidents, KP and I addressed the attendees. Our speeches are reproduced below.
Thank you so much for the honor of serving as incoming co-president alongside KP, and our entire BLSA executive team, for this upcoming year. Personally, I am eager and excited to building stronger relationships with every BLSA member and supporter, as I’ve had the unfortunate circumstance of studying fully remotely this past year. But even more so, I look forward to continuing the legacy and momentum of past BLSA leadership.
As cliché as it sounds, it is hard to imagine life beyond or before Covid-19. As the world begins to tip-toe back to normal, many find it hard to imagine what this new “normal” will even look like. Some, myself included, find it difficult to even begin to picture what a post-pandemic world will be, as social distancing and isolation have completely taken over in the past year.
Although the pandemic that has forced us apart from one another in so many ways, in other ways it has brought our community closer than ever before. Take BC Law’s Food Pantry Effort, for example, a working group that has helped organize the donations of hundreds of pounds of food to local organizations.
We spoke with student leader Andrew Fishman about the work of the group and how he hopes to impact the surrounding community.
Tell me a little bit about how this working group got its start.
What is the role of faith in our democracy? For starters, freedom of religion is the first right enshrined in the First Amendment. While amendments are not listed in order of importance, it’s hard not to read something into that drafting choice. Yet constitutional meanings frequently play hide-and-go-seek with text. This is especially the case for religion, which is never defined in the Constitution.
Maybe the Founders’ generation assumed the meaning was self-evident. I would hope, however, that they knew there is little that is obvious or uncontested in religion. The etymology of the word itself suggests how difficult it is to define. Religion comes from the Latin term religio. The Latin phrase itself likely came from the root ligare, to bind. Joined with the prefix re-, religion is the process of “binding together again.”
The question is: what does religion bind together? Some believe it bound an individual to the discipline of moral discernment. It referred to epistemic responsibility, the responsibility to properly know what you know. A related but distinct interpretation was that it referred to the oaths taken by members of cults or religious orders. It emphasized the practical, ritual, and ecclesial dimensions of religious life. Over time, as religion started to assume more individualistic and mystical associations, the root was understood as referring to the re-connection between the human and the divine.
The following is a reflection based on my experience observing a Zoom hearing in housing court. Attending this hearing was part of an assignment for my clinic, the COVID-19 Relief Housing Clinic. The case I observed is not that of a client of our firm, but simply that of a litigant who virtually appeared in Zoom court that morning.
When I watch courtroom scenes on television and in movies, I am captivated by the persuasive oration, surprise evidence, and yes, the juicy drama. Superficially, attending a status hearing in Housing Court via Zoom was not so different from watching a televised courtroom experience. After all, I opened up my laptop and sat down at my desk to watch the scenes unfold through my screen. But the experience was nothing like watching a media portrayal of a courtroom drama. Because this wasn’t Netflix, and the spectacle wasn’t written with the sole function of my entertainment. That morning, I left feeling the opposite of entertained. It’s a lot less fun when the characters aren’t just reciting their scripts on a stage. It’s hard to find enjoyment in the unfolding of real problems of real people, especially when you can sense that there may not be a happy ending.
In my eyes, the protagonist of today’s narrative was the defendant tenant (let’s call her J), setting forth her case for numerous civil damages against her landlord, C. Particularly, she was experiencing various issues with heat, both in a bedroom and with her oven. This made me remember my own apartment last winter, when the heat was stuck at 64 degrees for less than a day. I was angry, less so because the cold was intolerable, and more so because I feel I have an entrenched right to this utility at all times.
J was situated in her apartment, wearing what looked like a bathrobe. She had attended the hearing after getting three hours of sleep after her overnight shift at work. She looked stressed and overwhelmed. It was like the frustration I feel when I have to stay up late for RA duty, but still have an 8 am class the next day.
As elections approach for student organizations, I want to make a pitch to 1Ls who are on the fence about whether they can make a commitment to a student organization on top of the normal commitments of law school.
1Ls, this year has no doubt been challenging and strange. While 2Ls were able to spend half of our first year just popping into events to take food and spend time with friends, 1Ls need to make a much more concerted effort to join Zoom events to network, listen to speakers, or even socialize. That’s taxing. I understand and it makes sense why your affinity for student groups might be less than ours was.
Lots of discussion lately about rankings. How important are they, really? For better or worse, most students (and alumni, for that matter) pay attention to where their school falls in the US News & World Report annual list.
The latest US News Best Law Schools ranking was released this week, and BC Law moved up two spots to #29, improving its overall score from 63 to 67. Yay! BC also moved up in a few specialty categories: Tax (#14), Clinical Training (#24) and Environmental Law (#24).
There was more controversy than usual this year, with US News initially releasing a new diversity ranking and then recalculating it and then pulling it off their site entirely. Further, they had to recalculate their overall ranking just a day before it was released, removing a metric on librarian’s “ratio of credit hours of instruction.” Apparently there was more than the usual tinkering with the methodology this year, adding some new measurements of average debt, and reworking how library resources are measured.
Maybe it’s just me, but they don’t seem to have hit a home run with all these changes. So does this mark the beginning of the end for US News rankings dominance? Probably not, but stay tuned.
Read more about the ranking in the BC Law Magazine story.
Devon Sanders is a second-year student, and vice president of the Impact blog. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I find it almost impossible not to acknowledge the recent attacks on the Asian American community. The same way I desire every conscious soul to affirm that Black lives matter- I must also affirm that the life of each Sister and Brother in every beautiful culture within the Asian American community matters.
Vulnerable conversations are powerful because it forces us to acknowledge our deficits and choose our mode of liability. That is, we can choose to ignore our own complicity in a system that breeds hatred and systemically condones discrimination, or we can actively work to dismantle this evil. I’m afraid that far too many people in our society, perhaps subconsciously, perhaps even myself, have fallen into the former.
Dr. King forcefully condemned this passivity in a Letter from Birmingham Jail when he blamed the stagnated progress of civil rights on White moderates, who were more devoted to a “negative peace in the absence of tension” than a “positive peace in the presence of justice.” Although his purpose, at the time, was to rally around the agitating methods of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King’s rhetoric echoes today as a condemnation of complicit silence.
Where are you, CNN?
Where are you, my fellow activists and leaders of social justice?
Deafening silence from the news media and our so-called allies
Feigned outrage only when it’s trendy
I am traumatized by your apathy
(Excerpt from Not Your Model Minority)
When I started law school, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I had worked for a few years, and it was strange to think about being in a classroom and having homework again. Plus, I knew that law school was going to be a completely different beast than college, with things like the curve, outlining, and cold calls. Luckily, BC Law fosters an extremely supportive environment, including by assigning upperclassman mentors to 1Ls, and tries to give you all the tools you need for success early on. But most of what I figured out about law school was through trial and error. Therefore, I reached out to a few 1Ls with the following question to see what they learned from their first semester at BC Law.
You’ve survived your first semester of law school. Looking back, what advice do you have for your first semester 1L self?
Who among us doesn’t love dwelling on student debt and competitive school rankings?
U.S. News & World Report is among the many institutions that releases an annual law school ranking list. The results, unsurprisingly, matter to law school students, alumni, and faculty. I know that many prospective students are currently receiving acceptances from many great law schools and will have to make final decisions in the coming months (and I hope they all choose BC Law). Surely, those students have to be looking at such ranking lists, and I don’t blame them. I certainly did when I made my decision. To the extent that rankings accurately capture a school’s merit, naturally we all want to be members of the best educational institution possible – and of course, there’s no doubt that prestige is a useful tool to have under your belt in many walks of life.
Just this time last year, amidst the upheaval and uncertainty that Covid-19 was just beginning to render on all of our lives, Dean Rougeau wrote to the BC Law community in order to address the U.S. News 2020 rankings, noting how competitive the scoring margins are among excellent law schools but nevertheless pledging BC’s commitment “to providing the very best legal education within our mission of educating lawyers for the greater good.” BC Law’s ranking (tied at #31) is something to take pride in, but there is something more going on here than that number captures. So much of the law school experience is driven by brutal, lifeless numbers: rankings, scholarships, LSAT scores, GPAs, final exam scores, bell curves, class rankings, class percentiles, and so on. It’s a bit reductionist. Whatever it is that sets BC Law apart is intangible, but I think it lives in that commitment to the greater good.
In February of 2019 I was a senior in college in my final semester. I was also an intern at NBC Sports Boston—an awesome opportunity that I really enjoyed. I’ll admit it—I’m a huge sports fan. Not just in the sense that I watch a lot of games, but in the sense that I have a framed, autographed photo of Patriots running back James White scoring the game winning touchdown in the greatest comeback in NFL history (Super Bowl LI, which I attended) mounted in my living room. This photo is next to David Ortiz’ #34 jersey, which is next to an autographed Tim Thomas hat, next to an autographed team photo of the world champion 2007-08 Boston Celtics.
Are you getting the picture?
So it goes without saying that I was beyond thrilled when I actually got to help cover Super Bowl LIII—the final championship of the Brady-Belichick era, a run of success so long it stretched back from when I was in preschool, to when I was getting ready to graduate from college. It was a fitting ending on a number of fronts.
But in the back of my mind, I knew trouble was on the horizon.