Professors: Try Wearing Costumes Year-Round

By the time this blog is posted, Halloween will have just passed and Election Day will be right around the corner. As I don’t want my hair to be completely grey or completely gone by the time I turn 26, in this post I am going to focus on the less frightening of the two.

This past Thursday, tax law extraordinaire Professor Oei kept the mood light by wearing a full-body Appa costume to remote-class in both the spirit of Halloween and also in light of the shared experience many of us had watching (or re-watching) Avatar: The Last Airbender when it was released on Netflix right at the start of the Covid-19 quarantine.  “Appa” is a flying sky bison from the television show, pictured below, and if you needed that explained to you then (1) shame on you, but (2) go watch the show because you’re in for a real treat.

How could the Appa costume have possibly been tied into our discussion of statutory deductions for business and trade expenses in the Internal Revenue Code, you ask? With a little bit of creative lawyering, Professor Oei found a way.

It also brightened everyone’s day, making the class more enjoyable and consequently more effective. So, this begs the question: why aren’t professors wearing costumes all the time? Do they not care about doing everything in their power to help law students effectively master the course material?

Well, I’ve never gotten the impression that the professors here practice anything less than skillful dedication to student instruction. So, failure to wear costumes throughout the entire semester must be an oversight; there is no simply no other explanation. But the past is the past. Let that be the case no more – if I may be so bold, what follows are just a few humble wardrobe suggestions for the 1L curriculum faculty here at Boston College Law School.

Property law professors: this one is easy – full-body fox costumes for the class covering Pierson v. Post.1 If memory serves, Pierson v. Post is taught Week 1, Class 2 of law school, but I’m sure 1Ls just beginning to acclimate to a strange new environment wouldn’t be put off by their highly-qualified professor showing up in a fox onesie on the second day of class (of course not).

Constitutional law professors: students should never, ever see your actual hair again – strictly powdered wigs from this point forward, please and thank you. Ideally, incoming 1Ls should never even feel 100% certain that it is, in fact, just a powdered wig instead of your real hair – and don’t you want your students focused on your hairstyle instead of something silly like the Commerce Clause? Stop showering if you really want to commit to the Framer-bit and guarantee your students a 100% bar exam passage rate.

Torts professors: of course, it’s going to have to be Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co.2, and you’ve got plenty of options. Dress as a train conductor. Dress as a box of fireworks. Dress in some kind of invisibility cloak so your students can be just as aware of you as Judge Cardozo was of Helen Palsgraf’s health and wellbeing. Really, the possibilities are endless!

Let’s just go ahead and say criminal law professors are off the hook on thematic costumes, for obvious reasons.

Contract law professors: Frigaliment Importing v. BNS International Sales3 begs the provocative question that we all came to law school to answer: “…what is chicken?” Well professors, we all know the most basic technique of good storytelling: show, don’t tell.

Civil Procedure professors: I am not exactly sure how you could manage to embody a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss in the form of a physical costume, but what you could do instead is just dismiss your class for a day like the judiciary would dismiss a complaint for being too conclusory, right? Give them a day off – that counts as a costume in my book.

In all seriousness, I hope everyone in the BC Law community enjoyed a safe and healthy Halloween, and that most of the BC Law community has an uplifting Election Day.

To the current 1Ls: November is law school playoff season, so good luck with outlining and preparing for finals. See you on the other side.

***

1: Pierson v. Post: Some guy non-mortally shoots a fox, then some other guy finishes the job when it enters his land. Who gets to keep the carcass? It turns out it doesn’t matter; this case actually stands for competing bases for claims to possession!

2: Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co.: A 40 year old janitor and mother of two has the nerve to try bringing her daughters to the beach without getting blown up by fireworks, and hijinks ensue. She was badly injured for life and got no remedy at all, but at least dissenting Judge Andrews had some neat things to say about proximate cause.

3: Frigalement Importing v. BNS International Sales:  What IS chicken, actually? It turns out, all the modified objective theory of contract interpretation can tell us for sure is that chicken definitely isn’t goose, duck, or turkey. Perhaps we are – all of us – “chicken.” To quote Charlie Kelly from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: “…bird law in this country – it’s not governed by reason.”

Images sources:

Appa: https://avatar.fandom.com/wiki/Appa?file=Appa_flying.png

Chicken Costume: https://www.amazon.com/Rubies-Costume-Deluxe-Adult-Chicken/dp/B007Q90YWC

Featured image used under Creative Commons license 4.0.


Dan Riley is a second-year student at BC Law who has way too much time on his hands. Email him at rileydh@bc.edu.

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