After close SBA runoff, New Couch in McDonough is Day Vice President

Students’ voices heard. New Couch in McDonough smiles benevolently in new position as SBA Day Vice President.The seating arrangement “New Couch” has won the Student Bar Association Day Division position of Vice President in a close election runoff against Morgan Freeman.

The election began with a pool of various candidates, all with different visions for Georgetown University Law Center. Mickey Mouse claimed he would clean up the school with a lively broom, and the Yellow Teletubby exclaimed: “laa laa,” and nobody knew what this meant. 

Morgan Freeman gave a lengthy speech, enumerating the lengths he would go to to serve the Law Center. “For twenty days and twenty nights, the Emperor Penguin will march to a place so extreme, it supports no other life. In the harshest place on earth, love finds a way. For Georgetown, I will lead the way,” he said.  

Despite these various positions, it was New Couch who caught the voters’ attention. 

New Couch promised to be comfortable in the role: soft enough to conform to school rules and firm enough to stay steady in its convictions. “I will fill the vacant seat of authority at the school, and you can rest on me when you are in need,” Couch told the voters. 

After the first round of elections, New Couch and Morgan Freeman were in a dead heat. The SBA called for a runoff election between the two candidates to determine who would be the next SBA Day Division Vice President. 

The runoff election got tense as the mudslinging began. In a heated debate only days before the runoff, Morgan Freeman called the sofa a “La-Z-Boy” who would “do nothing for the student community but sit around.” He also accused the new couch of being “nothing but a love seat,” not nearly wide enough to accommodate the interests of more than two people at a time. Freeman believes this is simply not enough for the Georgetown Law Community. 

New Couch responded that “while Morgan Freeman may have the voice of an authoritative angel, he lacks substance.” New Couch pleaded with the voters to not be distracted by the dulcet tones of Freeman’s voice – but to recognize that his speech merely consisted of excerpts from March of the Penguins. “He has no platform, and I do,” Couch claimed. “Do not be fooled by his empty words.”  

New Couch won by only two votes. When interviewed, a law student who voted for New Couch expressed her hopes for the upcoming school year. “Like, I don’t ask for that much, just a couch to sit on,” she confessed. 

by Alexa Tsakopoulos, 1L 

 

Finals now set to begin next week

Officials at the Georgetown University Law Center voted to hold final exams starting in April this year instead of May for budgetary reasons. All exams will be held at the same dates and times, a month prior to the original dates. 

This change is cost-effective because it cuts out an additional month’s worth of professors’ salaries and other expenses needed to maintain daily campus activities. The school plans to use the money to support a new Madonna Monday initiative to help reduce stress levels on campus.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of Wednesday Wind Down, Georgetown Law officials have been looking to expand upon weekly offerings.  The ‘80s theme for the upcoming Equal Justice Foundation auction provided the much needed inspiration for the task force. Dean Mitchell Bailin explained the decision in an exclusive interview with Law Weekly staff.  “Madonna Mondays will promote inclusiveness on campus. Additionally, studies have shown that music improves brain function.
Officials at the Georgetown University Law Center voted to hold final exams starting in April this year instead of May for budgetary reasons. All exams will be held at the same dates and times, a month prior to the original dates. This change is cost-effective because it cuts out an additional month’s worth of professors’ salaries and other expenses needed to maintain daily campus activities. The school plans to use the money to support a new Madonna Monday initiative to help reduce stress levels on campus.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of Wednesday Wind Down, Georgetown Law officials have been looking to expand upon weekly offerings.  The ‘80s theme for the upcoming Equal Justice Foundation auction provided the much needed inspiration for the task force. Dean Mitchell Bailin explained the decision in an exclusive interview with Law Weekly staff. “Madonna Mondays will promote inclusiveness on campus. Additionally, studies have shown that music improves brain function and dancing has essential cardio vascular benefits while providing an outlet for the stress and anxiety that is prevalent in law school,” said Bailin confidently.
Licensing Madonna’s music, scheduling aerobics classes at the Sport and Fitness Center, and ordering clothes that students can wear for Madonna Monday exhausted the school’s supplemental funding and a sizeable portion of other funds, including scholarships, necessitating a shorter second semester. The Student Bar Association, while at first hesitant about the idea was won over by the presentation given by the Task Force led by Dean William Treanor.  
“When we saw and felt the sheer joy of seeing Dean Treanor vogue we were sold. Sometimes law students just need to blow off some steam and not take themselves too seriously,” noted SBA Vice President New Sofa.  The SBA is confident that the student body will also become enthusiastic   supporters of the change.  

The decision to hold finals in April will undoubtedly leave some students concerned.  It will be left to the discretion of professors to hold students accountable for their entire syllabuses. In some cases students may find themselves responsible for less material. 

Professor Elizabeth Ewert, Director of Academic Enhancement Programs, added that “while moving finals up may increase student anxiety, we are confident that the effects will be mitigated by the power of Madonna’s upbeat and empowering message and the extended summer break should allow for increased relaxation.”  

Furthermore, Madonna Mondays are expected to boost applications to the Law Center.  It is the first program of its kind at any law school in the country.  The novelty of a weekly dance party will undoubtedly appeal to the discerning members of the class of 2017.  A poll of current college third-years confirmed the theory, who listed ‘80s theme parties as one of the their favorite activities.

Both SBA and the Office of the Dean of Students have opened their doors to student comments.

 

 by Hayley Webster, 1L

 

Section 3 voted “Best Section” by Section 3

“What a surprising, but fulfilling win,” exclaimed a current Section 3 1L  upon hearing that, for the seventh year in a row, Section 3 had won the prestigious annual “Best Section” award, as presented by Section 3. The award was created seven years ago.

Section 3, a perennial underdog for the perennial award, campaigned heavily in the weeks immediately preceding the awards ceremony, held March 3, 2013, in the basement of Professor Gary Peller’s house. 

The ceremony itself, a hallowed event in the annals of law school awards history, lasted an indeterminate amount of time, and featured a diverse (too diverse? not diverse enough? what is diversity?) selection of performers, presenters, and guests. 

Section 3 2L Jeff Liu reviewed the food, which was “exquisite,” though there could have been more emphasis on local, organic, vegan, fair trade sources. “Or more burgers. They ran out of burgers so fast,” commented Liu. 

Performers included famous Georgetown Law genderqueer  marine animal rights yo-yo troupe Stinger Swingers and Professor Naomi Mezey on keytar.

Section 3 also took home the award for “Best 1L Section” and “Best 2L section.” “Best 3L Section” resulted in a tie, for Section 3 and Section Three. 

“Competition was tough,” said Section 3 1L Taylor Matthews, who emceed this year’s awards show. “I tried to be objective, but I have to say, I was rooting for Section 3 all along.”

At press time, students from other sections could reportedly be found not giving a shit about Section 3. “Section 3 is the worst. Seriously. The worst,” one disgruntled students commented.

Student horrified by number of Section 3 students in seminar

When Sandy Rivers, 3L, signed up for Communications Law in a Post-Gender World, she had no idea that she was unwittingly subjecting herself to a semester’s worth of class with a “disgusting” number of former Section 3 upperclass J.D. students.

“It was a nightmare,” said Rivers, formerly of Section 4. “At first I thought, alright, maybe some of the students in class are just talkative.” Quickly, the realization hit her that her fellow students were not only talkative, but preferred to generally speak about topics that were only tangentially related to whatever the professor was actually trying to say. Instead, the former Section 3 students “just went on and on about absolutely nothing,” confided Rivers.

Of the fourteen students in Rivers’s seminar, eight had enrolled in Georgetown’s Curriculum B. According to Rivers, each of these students had a “pet issue” that he or she (“and they always insisted on using the pronoun ‘she’”) would bring up multiple times in each class session. 

One student managed to relate satellite communications to the plight of Ugandan refugees, while another spoke up at one point to announce that communications law was anthropocentric and should be deconstructed to allow for non-verbal, non-human forms of communication, like echolocation and rectum-sniffing.

Rivers is now leading an Student Bar Association petition to further segregate law school classes, and allow Curriculum A students to select courses with 25 percent or fewer students formerly from Section 3. “I’m normally not a proponent of ‘separate but equal,’ but even the Black Law Students Association is on board with this petition,” claims Rivers.

“Also, if I have to hear about the drawbacks of our capitalist, post-colonial society one more time, I’m going to club a baby seal and vote against gay marriage,” said a distraught Rivers.

APALSA hosts annual Trailblazers reception

 

Harold Koh, the former US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor gave the keynote address at the Trailblazers event. Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, the Georgetown University Law Center branch of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association hosted “Trailblazers: Charting Your Own Paths.” The event consisted of a panel of prominent Asian professionals working in the legal and policy-making fields, followed by a networking dinner event.

The panel featured four professionals who pursued a variety of career paths after completing law school and was moderated by Jeff Liu, the current president of APALSA. The panelists spoke about how their culture and identity as Asian-Americans impacted their decision to enter the legal field and their career decisions within it.

The keynote address was delivered by Harold Hongju Koh, a Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School and one of the foremost authorities of public and private international law, national security law, and human rights. He worked as the US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor between 1998-2001 and the Dean of Yale Law School between 2004-2009.

Koh gave a short keynote speech filled with stories about his childhood, immigration to the United States from Korea, and how and why he began his legal career, often eliciting laughs from the audience.

Along with Koh, there were three other panelists. Karen K. Narasaki, the head of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), one of the most prominent civil rights advocacy organization in the country. She was vice-chairwoman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and chair of the Rights Working Group, an organization dedicated to arresting the erosion of liberties since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Representing an alternative career choice was David Lat, founder and current managing editor of Above the Law. During his portion of the panel, Lat claims that he was unsure of what his end goal was when he began law school and after graduation, followed the traditional path of working at a large firm. He started a blog called underneaththeirrobes.blogs.com, as a humorous blog dedicated to the lives of federal judges outside the courtroom. He discovered a love of writing and blogging through this and left the firm to start blogging fulltime.

Besides answering broader questions about career choices and advice for current law students, more specific questions about the status of the legal market were directed at Lat, who responded with a positive note and reassured the students in the room that legal hiring was improving.

Judge Maribeth Raffinan, an Associate Judge for the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, who was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 28, 2010, was also present. Previously, she worked as a staff attorney for the Public Defenders Service for the District of Columbia for 11 years before her confirmation as judge.

The evening ended with a dinner where about a dozen practitioners working in the D.C. area were invited to share a meal and engage in conversation with current students. “It was great to hear from Asian American leaders in the field of law. I think it’s important to share in success and struggles, “ said Hannah Kim, 1L, who attended the event.  “It was a great event, and I hope to attend more like it in the future.”

With contributions by Jeff Liu, 2L

Africa Week promotes human rights on campus

The Africa Committee, a sub-section of Georgetown University Law Center’s Human Rights Action-Amnesty International student organization, hosted “Spring to Action” the week of March 18, 2013. The program, also known as Africa Week, consisted of a variety of and panels throughout the week

The week kicked off with an educational campaign and petition aimed at stopping land grabs in Cameroon.  The Cameroonian government is granting a 99-year land lease to an American company, allowing it to develop an industrial palm oil plantation.  The Africa Committee worked to raise awareness about both the environmental impact of deforestation and the detrimental effect that the oil palm plantation could have on the local populations who live and practice substance farming on the land.  The petition is being conducted in partnership with Greenpeace.

On March 20, Matt Wells, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, led a discussion on war crimes in Côte d’Ivoire and problematic labor practices in Zambia. Wells analyzed the 2010 elections in Côte d’Ivoire and the armed conflict that followed. Though both sides of the conflict committed atrocities, thus far the government of Côte d’Ivoire and the International Criminal Court have only charged people affiliated with the former government. The discussion that followed focused on appropriate forms of prosecution and reconciliation. The central themes of justice and peace were both emphasized in creating a solution, as was the need for both sides of an armed conflict to be held accountable. This is to mitigate the concern that only one side of the conflict is held accountable and punished for the violence resulting from their crimes.

The second portion of the discussion focused on Chinese-owned copper mines in Zambia. Wells described the impact of China’s increasing presence in the area and voiced his concerns over the discussion being overly one-sided either for or against China’s presence. At the copper mine in question, the Chinese company was the only party willing to reopen the mine, which provided jobs for thousands of Cameroonians, because of low profit margins.  The company made employees work longer hours for less pay in unsafe conditions, but work done by Human Rights Watch improved the situation. The company’s standards are not yet meeting all labor standards, but Wells claimed that the progress is promising.  The cooperation of the Zambian government contributed to the improvement of conditions as well.

On March 213, the Africa Committee held a screening of “Sisters in Law”. The film follows the struggle of two Cameroonian women seeking justice for female victims of physical and sexual abuse through the nation’s court system. The cases covered a variety of issues including kidnapping and custody issues, domestic violence that led to a successful bid for divorce, child abuse, and the rape of a young girl. The two women successfully dealt with strong cultural pressure against their clients and were ultimately able to protect their clients’ rights. One of the primary difficulties they faced was the marginalization of women.  Their clients found it difficult to speak out on issues that were contrary to social norms and gender roles. The film demonstrated the importance of international human rights and the role of lawyers in upholding them.

by Hayley Webster, 1L

Georgetown Law elects new SBA executive board and class representatives for next academic year

by Ann Y. Du, 1L

On Thursday, March 21, 2013, the Georgetown University Law Center Student Bar Association held campus-wide elections to select the new general representatives and executive board members for the 2013-14 academic year.

Bill King, 1L, swept the Day Division Vice President election. King earned 217 votes compared to his opponents Samuel Smith, 1L, and Ernest Pysher, 1L, with 127 votes and 49 votes respectively. In his candidate statement, King stated, “[l]ast fall, I was honored to become my section’s delegate to the SBA. I didn’t have much experience, but made one simple promise – to always take my job seriously and to listen when my classmates had something to say.” Kukui Claydon, 2E, will be the new Evening Division Vice President.

Rounding out the executive board for next year are Jessica Montello, 2L, as Secretary and Andrew Warner, 1E, as Treasurer.

The only executive board position that remained unfilled at the end of Thursday night was the highly contested role of president. The Thursday ballots produced no clear winner between the three candidates, with a mere 16-vote difference between the forerunner Parker Schnell, 2L, with 195 votes, and Edward Williams, 2L, with 179 votes. Alexis Kellert, 2L, had 185 votes.

With no definitive majority in favor of any candidate, Christopher Morgan-Riess, 3L, the current SBA Elections Chair, announced that a run-off election would take place on Friday, March 22, 2103. Along with President, run-off elections were also for Joint Degree Representative and for one of the 3E Representative positions. The run-off for the second 3E Representative resulted in another tie between Landon Stropko, 2E, and Tara Straw, 2E, on Friday night, and will be decided by a 2/3 vote by the outgoing SBA members.

The position of President was conferred upon Parker Schnell who maintained her leading position in the presidential polls, earning 53.08 percent of the run-off votes. The new Joint Degree Representative will be Joe Vukovich, 1L.

Along with the executive board members, new general representatives for each class were also selected. These delegates will be responsible for representing the voices and best interest of each year group or program at the Law Center.

 A full list of newly elected representatives follows:

 

Executive Board
President: Parker Schnell
Day Vice President: William King
Evening Vice President: Kukui Claydon
Secretary: Jessica Montello
Treasurer: Andrew Warner
Delegates

3L:
Allyson Poulous
Benjamin Lee
Whitney Turk
Alexis Kellert
Alex Bergjans
Ashley Binetti
David O’Steen
Kevin Homiak
Nicole Smith
Phil Beshara
2L:
Benjamin Schiffelbein
Colin MacDonald
Ernest Pysher
Lance Shapiro
Lane Johnson
Mercedes Bugallo
Monique Boyce
Ricardo Doriott
Samuel Smith
Utsav Gupta
4E:
Anjali Garg
Betsy Henthorne
3E:
Ory Rinat
Landon Stropko, Tara Straw– TBD by 2/3 vote of outgoing House of Delegates
2E:
Elizabeth Nevitt
SJD:
Edit Frenyo
Joint Degree:
Joe Vukovich

 

 

Official campus closures announced due to Hurricane Sandy

Screen capture of official GULC website, as of October 28, 2012, 8:10 PMCheck back to this space. The Law Weekly will report all updates—as they occur—right here on this page.

UPDATED Tuesday, October 30, 10:00 a.m.

Following announcements for campus closures on Monday and Tuesday, and an advisory to stay indoors Monday evening, Georgetown University administration has declared an all-clear for the main and medical campuses. A HoyAlert email sent 7:53 a.m. reads:

“This message is the official ‘all clear’ lifting the shelter in advisory for the main and medical campuses, however please continue to use caution.  Only go outside if necessary.  Debris is causing slippery conditions, some trees are down and standing water remains in areas off campus. Thank you for your cooperation and patience.”

The HoyAlert emails and automatic calls did not mention the Law Center. However, Georgetown University’s Facebook account includes a recent update (9:05 a.m.) that states: “This is the official ‘all clear’for those at our DC campuses. Please continue to use caution when outdoors.”

UPDATED Monday, October 29, 4:11 p.m.

Students and faculty still on campus at the Law Center are now advised to stay indoors, due to worsening weather conditions, according to an email sent by Edward G. Piper, Director of Public Safety and Emergency Management, at 4:01 p.m. This announcement came at the heels of earlier instructions regarding campus closures for Monday and Tuesday. 

In an email to the entire campus, Piper writes that “the safety of all the members of our law community on campus is our primary concern.”

UPDATED Monday, October 29, 10:59 a.m.

Georgetown Law is officially closed for both Monday, October 29, and Tuesday, October 30. 

Georgetown’s HoyAlert system began alerting students to Tuesday’s campus closures at approximately 10:53 a.m. A text message broadcasted by the HoyAlert system informed students: “All Georgetown University campuses in DC Area (MAIN, MED, LAW) closed Tuesday, Oct 29. Call 292-687-SNOW or visit www.georgetown.edu for details.” 

A HoyAlert robo-call ensued shortly after, informing the Georgetown community that campuses in the D.C. metropolitain area will be closed, and that classes have been cancelled for main campus, the medical school, and the law school. However, all emergency personnel “must report to work on time.”

Hurricane Sandy’s estimates have been upgraded to a height of 85 mph winds (from a previous estimate of a height of 75 mph.)

UPDATED Monday, October 29, 10:37 a.m.

Georgetown University has announced that all university campuses in D.C. will be closed Tuesday as well. The HoyAlert system has not yet informed students of the new development. However, as of Monday, 10:37 a.m., the Georgetown Law official website has updated its inclement weather notice. 

The Georgetown University Facebook account posted the announcement at 10:11 a.m.

UPDATED Sunday, October 28, 8:50 p.m.

At 8:44 p.m., Sunday, October 28, Edward G. Piper, Law Center Director of Public Safety and Emergency Management, sent a campus-wide email confirming that the Law Center will be closed on Monday due to inclement weather.

“All activities and services, including classes and scheduled events (student organization meetings and events, CLE, and conferences), are canceled.  All administrative offices are closed.  The food services operation, fitness center and Early Learning Center are closed.  The library will be closed.

It is expected that only designated emergency employees will come to the Law Center to fulfill their responsibilities.  All others – including students, staff, faculty, and visitors – are expected not to come to the Law Center, which will not be staffed to support anything other than essential functions.  

The Law Center will continue to monitor developing storm conditions and will communicate a decision regarding its operating status for Tuesday, October 30, in the afternoon on Monday.”

A duplicate email was sent to all students and faculty at 8:55 p.m.

The HoyAlert system automatically called all those registered for the system at approximately 8:45 p.m. with a similar message, regarding campus closure “due to inclement weather.”

Sunday, October 28, 8:17 p.m.

According to a “HoyAlert” bulletin email sent on Sunday, October 28, at 7:30 p.m., the Georgetown Law Center campus is officially closed for Monday, October 29. This announcement occured as Washington, D.C. braces for Hurricane Sandy, set to hit D.C. this coming week.

The text of the email includes the following: “Georgetown University, Georgetown University Medical Center, and Georgetown University School of Medicine ARE CLOSED ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 29.  Emergency personnel must report to work on time.”

Previously, on Friday, October 27, Edward G. Piper, Director of Public Safety and Management, had sent an email to all faculty and students concerning emergency preparations for Hurricane Sandy. Piper wrote that the Law Center would “keep the community updated on possible closings and delays through our website, email, main switchboard (202) 662-9000 and the class cancellation line (202) 662-9446, as well as through the HoyAlert emergency notification system.”

Piper also recommended http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes as a resource for hurricane preparation, and noted that the Law Center’s inclement weather policy is stated in full on the official Georgetown Law website. (The GULC inclement weather policy can be found here:  http://www.law.georgetown.edu/campus-services/public-safety/inclement-weather-policy.cfm.)

According to the Washington Post, ”between Sunday night and Tuesday, we can expect 4-7” of rain and a long period of sustained winds above 35 mph with peak gusts over 60 mph.” The hurricane is expected to hit most severely from Monday into and through Tuesday. Power outages are expected.

The federal government also announced a complete shutdown for Monday. MTA has also announced that all rail and bus service is cancelled for Monday. 

Georgetown Law community members can register for the HoyAlert system here:  http://safety.georgetown.edu/49009.html.

 

Sold Out: SBA not releasing more Barristers’ Ball tickets

Tickets for the annual ball quickly sold out.Ever since a gargantuan line of students snaked through — and around — Hotung last Wednesday, the SBA has been under growing criticism for the rapid sell-out of Barristers’ Ball tickets. George Chipev, the incoming Chair of the SBA’s Special Events Committee, sat down with the Law Weekly to clear some things up.

800 tickets were released for this year’s event. Chipev said that this was “about 50 or so more than last year’s initial allocation.”

“Last year’s allocation sold out in over two and a half days,” said Chipev. The committee gauged interest for this year by “basing it off of last year’s demand.”

Addressing the speed with which the ticket supply disappeared, Chipev admitted that this “probably made things look like they were less organized than they were.”

In reality,he said, ticket sales went so quickly because the sales process operated more efficiently than ever. “We sold out the tickets — more than we did last year — in about 45 minutes.” Someone at SBA even calculated the rate: 1 ticket sold every 4.6 seconds.

Chipev was also asked if SBA would be repeating last year’s release of additional tickets. “The venue was bigger last year, which then allowed us to release more tickets. This year we aren’t releasing any more … . We have reached the allowable and preferred indoor capacity of the venue for our purposes.”

Regarding a rumor that the committee’s refusal to provide additional tickets this year was the result of laziness, Chipev offered a sharp rebuttal. “Any rumors that we simply do not want to renegotiate food or drink contracts are unfounded.”

Some students, however, have been questioning the foresight of SBA with regard to event attendance. Many 1Ls remember not being able to get a ticket for Fall float either.

Chipev acknowledged difficulties there, but noted that those difficulties had been attributed to other factors. This year, he explained, “people were aware that the weather was going to be really good, and also tickets were $25 cheaper” than the previous year. “We attributed fall float selling out as it did … to those two circumstances, which didn’t really line up with Barrister’s Ball.”

“There was clearly alot more demand [for Barrister’s Ball], more than we thought,” said Chipev, adding that “these are things that we are going to take into account next year.”

“It’s a balance,” he explained, “and the committee as a whole felt that we made the right decisions.”

Students who have tickets and are not planning to attend can help out someone on the waitlist (and get their money back) by contacting Dan Soleimani at dns32@law.georgetown.edu.

Disclosure Statement: Justin Waddell is a current SBA delegate.