Friday, October 21, 2005

But No One Played Twister

I need three more credit hours for Spring Semester. This is a problem because a)I don’t want to take any of the classes offered and b)I’m trying to avoid adding a class that meets on Thursday or Friday. Now, before y’all roll your eyes and think it’s because I’m lazy and should just suck it up and go to class, it’s because I don’t have any other classes on those days and I’d like to be able to pick up a couple of days a week of paid employment of one kind or another. I am riding the ragged edge of penury and the bar exam is expensive. I can make it through this semester without a real problem, and I couldn't really fit a job in right now, anyway, seeing as I am taking more than the maximum allowable credit hours. It's all I can do to keep my head above water as far as school work is concerned.

What on Earth am I going to take?

I’ve registered for Elder Law, Education Law, and Legal Research Practice (and oh, Lordy, do I need the practice). I don’t want to take a seminar course because they are a. lot. of. work and I’m too tired to deal with it in addition to trying to find a job. I expect spring semester to be my heavy job search time, so I’d like to concentrate on that, not on researching a seminar paper that will most likely be on a topic that I’ll never deal with in practice.

There is the possibility of taking a course in one of the graduate programs. I don’t get a grade in it, but I get the credit hours. I have to take a look at what’s offered. Unfortunately, you can’t take a random language and get credit for it, or I would just sign up for “Beginning Swahili” or something. The two credit Langauge X for Lawyers courses offered by the law school suck, plus I’ve already taken the only one I’m eligible to take... Unless they bring back German for Lawyers, in which case, I’m in like Flynn.

I think someone should give me credit for the work I do for the public interest society. I’ve never gotten a grant from them, yet I’ve put in many more hours than anyone else whose gotten a grant. If people can get credit for writing a brief and arguing a couple of times, then I should get credit for my role in organizing and running fundraisers that have enabled us to pay out a good 50K in grant money over the past two years, plus whatever we come up with this year.

Speaking of, our Fall Fundraiser was last night. Unfortunately for us, we were not able to repeat last year’s Den of Iniquity, thanks to State Legislatures who were pissed off that some charities might make some money off of gambling and not be forced to pay anything to the state coffers for that privilege. There was much debate over the summer about what our fundraiser should be. In years past, the Fall Fundraiser was pretty negligible both financially and in terms of public relations (last year being the notable exception) and in fact, often lost money for the group.

Various ideas were considered and discarded, including a pub crawl, a movie night, and a student-faculty talent show. That last one was my favorite, conceptually. I’ve read that other law schools do this to great success. However, the faculty here is in dire need of a stickectomy when it comes to these things. Don’t get me wrong: many of them are very friendly to students (which I realize is to be valued in a professor), many of them are brilliant scholars, a few of them are also extremely talented educators, and most of them are very generous in their support of the public interest auction. However, allow me to give an example of the effect that the gigantic rectal stick has had in the past: Two years ago, we organized a Pie-in-the-Face Contest as part of the auction. We got one professor from each 1L section to agree to take a pie in the face, then set up collection jars where each section could vie for the chance to have their professor take a pie in the face during the Auction. Whichever professor got the most money in the jar would be the chosen recipient and the right to be the Thrower of the Pie was then auctioned off as one of the lots at the Auction. This was wildly successful. We raised enough money from this one activity to fund an entire grant by itself. It could have been named the “Professor X Summer Grant”. The faculty got in on the act, stuffing each others’ jars and persuading students from their sections to put their money in another jar. It was a heated contest, and the outcome was very close. The professor who ended up being chosen is wildly popular—though also hotly hated by a certain section of the student body—and on the younger side—though not exactly fresh out of law school and teaching his first class. He’s well known for his sense of humor and his slightly irreverent approach to the cases in his class, but also for his attention to detail and ability to teach. He’s one of the few professors I’ve had at law school who are both well-versed in their subject AND an exceptional educator. His classes are tough, but not because he’s making the subject even more impenetrable with lectures wandering aimlessly through theory and the Socratic Method. I say all of this to point out that he’s well-liked and respected as a professor. When we approached him last year to repeat his performance (on the theory that we could sell the contest as a grudge match between him and the runner-up from the previous year), he flat out refused and was actually quite nasty about it, which was confusing to us.

Turns out, he took a lot of heat from the other faculty after the fact last year. Apparently participating enthusiastically in a silly contest to raise money for students to do public interest work is “demeaning” and “encourages a lack of respect” among the student body. This makes me want to scream “GET OVER YOURSELF!” and smack them across the face with a white glove. I suppose I can’t speak for the entire student body, but I can tell you that among my social circle, this whole thing increased the estimation of this professor tenfold. It was seen as showing the ability to not take himself too seriously, making him approachable and human. There was also no small measure of appreciation for the fact that he put himself out there in a way, much like professors expect us to do in class every day, looking for us to discuss issues and matters that we may not necessarily understand or that we may be uncomfortable with. It seems to me that people are more willing to take the chance of making a fool out of themselves in Professor X’s class than in your average class.

Anyway, if taking a pie in the face at an Auction is “demeaning” and “encourages a lack of respect”, I can only imagine what they would think about an event which would require them to sing or dance or act out a skit or something. It doesn’t seem like the response would be too enthusiastic.

Somewhere along the line, the idea of a Beer Pong tournament got tossed into the ring and for some bizarre reason—perhaps the fact that the average age of the incoming class this year was only 23(!)—it found fertile ground. I kind of chuckled and went along with it, thinking that the administration would laugh us out of the building when we presented that proposal and then we could get back to discussing a “real” fundraiser. This brilliant plot only had one small flaw: the administration actually approved the plan, provided that we a) not use the word “beer” to advertise the event, and b) that we put water in the cups instead of beer to remove the element of binge drinking. However, we were allowed to bring in as many kegs of beer as we wanted, provided that we have it served by someone from the university catering service, so I’m not sure how far from the event we actually removed the binge drinking element.

The pre-registration for this event did not go well at all. At the end of the day last Friday, we had zero teams signed up to play. It was a major cause of stress, given that we had already laid out a significant amount of cash in expenses for the shindig. We corralled the 1Ls into standing up in class and making announcements throughout the week, subtly exerting the power of peer pressure to induce as many of them as possible into plunking down the money to enter the tournament or at least show up and drink beer and eat pizza. Still, by Thursday afternoon, there were less than 15 teams signed up to play in the tournament. We were poised to lose a lot of money on staging this “fundraiser” and I literally had nightmares about it all week long. It didn’t help matters any that a review session for the MPRE was scheduled for the same night, meaning that a significant portion of the 3L class was unable to come to the party.

People straggled in, though, and soon we had just under 100 people milling around drinking and playing beer pong. The brackets were progressing, the drinking was not too heavy, but heavy enough, and I reached into my bag of waitress tricks to flirt the half drunk law boys into buying raffle tickets galore. Two rounds of batted eyelashes and laughing at things that weren’t funny later and we officially cleared a profit for the evening. Success! Or at least, Not Failure! Dean Happy was there and I caught him manning the kegs at one point in the evening, which was a sight to behold.

No one got hurt, no one puked in the student lounge, no one behaved like a bigger moron than usual, and we made money for the summer grant program. What more can you ask for in a fundraiser?

Well, it would have been nice if some of the other members of the public interest society had stuck around to help with the clean-up afterward. Instead, it was the executive board plus three other people. If the other slackers think that won't be remembered come time to dole out the grant money, they are sadly mistaken. Next time, we'll specifically assign clean up chores to individual people and I'll be happy to track down anyone who doesn't complete his assignment with the wrath of a woman carrying seventeen credit hour and forced to mop up cheap beer and pick up trash when all she wants to do is go home and sleep off the seventeen hours she's been awake and moving. It will not be a pretty sight. The movie version will be rated "R" for extreme violence and adult themes.



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