After I wrote about the failures of the War on Drugs for BC Law Magazine last semester I waited anxiously for the backlash. I spent ten years in the U.S. Coast Guard before law school, six of them chasing international drug cartels at sea, and I had the opportunity to work with some of the most professional and dedicated military and law enforcement personnel in the world. I was terrified about how they’d respond when I called the drug war a “lost cause,” and it took less than a day for the responses to start flooding my inbox. The volume wasn’t surprising, but the content shocked me.
You don’t have to be a fan of the TV series Black Mirror to realize that our world is becoming more computationally driven. Yet, being a fan may help you recognize the dangerous ways that technology can expand to affect how society operates. Ever since I began law school just a few months ago, I’ve been led to consider the role that courts will play in organizing and controlling new scientific frontiers. An increasingly important feature of future courts will be mathematical literacy. Unfortunately, based on empirical data, our courts system has not been very effective at analyzing empirical data.
The Supreme Court recently heard arguments grounded in statistics related to partisan gerrymandering in Gill v. Whitford. Many judges seemed dismissive of a mathematical tool, called the efficiency gap, that aims to measure the extent of partisan gerrymandering. The computation simply involves taking the difference between each party’s “wasted” votes, divided by the total number of votes cast. The court suggested that the lack of public understanding would make this standard arbitrary and erode the legitimacy of the court. Meanwhile, I’ve spent the last two months of law school rigorously attempting to internalize foundational legal concepts that I’m certain are puzzling to most lay people.
Walking the streets of Barcelona with my father used to involve a mild amount of embarrassment. In the city, where he was born and raised, and where most residents speak both Catalan and Spanish, there is a social convention: If you speak to someone you don’t know in Catalan, and they respond in Spanish, you should follow their cue and switch to Spanish because they do not speak Catalan. When someone responded to my father’s Catalan in Spanish, he persisted in Catalan. Sometimes they would call him out, explicitly telling him that they did not speak Catalan. Sometimes he would respond, “But we are in Catalunya.” I would stand by, hand blocking my face, hoping the interaction would end quickly. After seeing the national police bludgeon citizens throughout Catalonia with truncheons in a feeble attempt to block the October 1 independence referendum, I have a harder time seeing my father’s obstinacy as embarrassing.
I’m pleased to host a guest post from Samantha O’Neal, one of the leaders of BC Law’s Art Law Society.
It is a universally acknowledged truth that a college student majoring in Classics and Archaeology will be the subject of much familial concern and consternation, especially if that student has little desire to actually be an archaeologist. I was one of those students. Few moments can be as uncomfortable as your friends’ parents staring at you while wondering aloud, “But what are you going to do with that?” as they try to mask their sympathy for my poor, long-suffering parents who would probably be supporting me forever thanks to my desire to study a “dead” language (I’ll forego listing the merits of a Classical education for the moment.)
I had the great fortune to be born to parents who, while most certainly long-suffering, champion the Liberal Arts education. They always figured that, regardless of what I wanted to do, I would either need to go to grad school or be trained on the job, so why not study something I was actually interested in? But I never saw undergrad as some carte blanche to major in anything I wanted. Rather, it was an important step in my journey to studying museums and cultural property law.
I am pleased to host a guest post today from Vincent Lau, BC Law ’97. Alumni, please note that the Sung sisters will be special guests speakers for the Alumni Assembly at this year’s Reunion on November 3. If this is your reunion year, we hope you will attend! ABACUS will be screened earlier that day on the Law School campus, and the Rappaport Center will also host a panel discussion after the screening, open to all.
ABACUS premieres on PBS Frontline on September 12.
I was recently invited to a special screening of the new PBS documentary film ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail. First of all, a disclaimer: this is not a film review. I have no credentials to dissect whether ABACUS was well done from a technical or an artistic standpoint. What I can share are my reactions, and this documentary resonated with me on several fronts. The fact that the story (and film) involves several BC Law alumnae makes it even more compelling for our community. I would encourage everyone to go see it.
Abacus is a community bank located in the heart of New York’s Chinatown. Thomas Sung, an immigrant and a lawyer, opened the bank so that he could meet the needs of the people there. He later convinced two of his four daughters (one a BC Law alum) to join him, by arguing that working in a community bank lending money to local entrepreneurs is an important and effective way of giving back to the community. Continue reading
In April, I had the privilege of presenting a talk to the Boston College community as part of BC’s Graduate Student’s Association’s program GradTalks. It’s an annual event that provides a forum for a diverse selection of graduate students to present ideas that interest them. I spoke about felon disenfranchisement, and what we have to do in Massachusetts to overcome barriers to voting rights.
Watch the video after the jump.
“What kind of law are you going to practice?”
It’s a question every incoming law student is bombarded with from the moment they register for the LSAT, but I never felt fully prepared to answer it. I was interested in dozens of legal paths before law school, and a year at Boston College has only broadened my interests.
I am delighted to host a guest post from the brilliant and fabulous Maria Benvenuto. Maria is a 2L from Massapequa, NY. At BC Law, she serves as the Vice President of the Woman’s Law Center, Co-President of the Native American Law Student Association, an Admissions Ambassador, a member of the LSA Admissions Committee, and a staff writer for the Journal of Law and Social Justice. This summer she will be working in New York City and she is interested in working in labor and employment law. Maria can be reached by email at email@example.com.
“When you strip away all of the labels, the conversation is just about people.”
That is the sentiment that Rosie Rios, the 43rd treasurer of the United States, embedded throughout her presentation to the BC Law community on March 22nd. Ms. Rios was the longest serving treasury official, beginning her career on the Treasury/Federal Reserve Transition Team in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis. Upon resigning in 2016, Ms. Rios received the Hamilton Award, the highest honor presented in the US Department of the Treasury. She is a graduate of Harvard University, and is the first Latina to have a portrait commissioned in her honor on their campus. Most notably, Rosie Rios is known for spearheading efforts to place a picture of the first woman on US currency; the design will be revealed on August 26, 2020, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote under the 19th Amendment.
If you are ever looking for a brutally honest opinion of yourself, swallow your pride and ask a five year old.
In the years I spent working with kids at a community non-profit, I had the pleasure of hearing such gems as, “Miss Morgan, your tummy looks like my mommy’s when there’s a baby inside!” and “Did you know you look a lot less pretty when you wear your glasses?” Though some took these remarks seriously, one look at the sweet little faces from which the comments sprang forth never failed to make me laugh out loud. The children who attended these programs, often with the help of scholarships and sliding-scale payment plans, were typically filled with a joy and sense of innocence that made me absolutely love my job. All too often, however, these amusing little observations were juxtaposed with unfettered comments about living situations that revealed just how much these kids had been through in their short lives. I cannot forget the five-year-old who told me she wanted to kill herself because she missed her father so much, or the look of shame in an eleven-year-old’s eyes when his mother arrived to pick him up while high on drugs. I often felt frustrated by my inability to help these kids beyond passing the information along to DCF. I wanted so desperately to be able to advocate for these children in a way that went beyond simply telling someone higher up than me.
She was only seventeen when she realized she was pregnant. Having grown up in a predominantly white town in Ohio, she knew better than to bear a black man’s child, especially at that age. An adopted child herself, she decided someone else could provide her son a better life than a struggling high school student could. But my mother suddenly changed her mind seconds after holding me; by and large, my life’s greatest blessing. The struggles that would confront her may not have been clear at the moment, but she was willing to sacrifice plenty: forgoing college dreams, working multiple low wage jobs to put food on the table, being shunned by family for the color of her child’s skin, and most of all, being forced to do so alone. It was the nights that I awoke to her muffled sobs, seeing her still dressed in dirty waitressing clothes, that impacted me the most. I learned early on in life that the cards may not always be in your favor and that some people have to work harder to succeed. Yet by witnessing her struggle, I ultimately learned the value of resiliency and hard work. My mother’s perseverance instilled an insatiable hunger and an unrelenting drive, which ultimately would guide me through life. Continue reading