Student Senate President: Nona Farahnik
To the members of the Class of 2012: Congratulations. Law school is really hard, and we’re done.
In our first year, law school was a program of language acquisition: caveat emptor, expressio unius, noscitur a sociis, and mens rea, too. But after spending an entire year on call for Socratic questioning, we learned what it means to actually read a case: the significance of the court in which it was decided or a citation to a previous case, how to pick up on the language clues peppered throughout a major decision, and the potential implications of a single footnote—like footnote 4 of Carolene Products, where the framework for equal protection scrutiny first began.
And after the thousands of pages of reading—so many tens of thousands that my eyesight decreased by 300 percent in two years—we became students of personal histories turned historical precedent. We were introduced to contractual damages through George Hawkins, a boy who started with a burnt hand, and ended with a hairy one. We learned which employment perks do or don’t contribute to gross income by reading about Mr. and Mrs. Benaglia, Honolulu luxury hotel managers who lived in a suite and ate a lot of free room service. We confronted the mixed promise of the 14th Amendment through the Lovings, an interracial couple who were arrested when they moved back to Virginia after getting married.
And those are only three of the thousands of cases we have read. Together, we were guided through the development of modern society by a learned and brilliant faculty, which has had a hand in the very law we learn.
I will never forget the awe I felt as Professor Goldberg shared how, upon meeting John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, she thought to herself: This could be the couple that overturns Bowers v. Hardwick. They were.
In my Wrongful Convictions seminar, I read about how eye-witness identification is highly susceptible to error and also about our country’s turn towards mass incarceration. In America, roughly one in every 100 adults is behind bars.
I had the opportunity to TA for Tim Wu’s telecommunications class, years after studying his work on network neutrality. The reason your Wi-Fi connection is lousy is because, while broadcasters spectrum squat, the FCC assigned it the band of spectrum that was initially carved aside for garage door openers.
For three years, we were exposed to a perspective of the world in the way few people ever get the opportunity to do. We were challenged to think critically and skeptically about the institutions and rules that underlie society. And we did it with a faculty whose collective accomplishments are breathtaking, with legal and political luminaries who visited for lectures and panel discussions every week, and with peers who will one day do the same. And somehow we learned all of these things and more despite the pedagogically flawed practice reflected in most classes, where our entire grade is based on a final exam during a brutal two-week period. Law school was rewarding and challenging, and everything in between, but ultimately the experience speaks for itself. As we first learned in torts a few years ago: Res ipsa loquitur.
I am now delighted to introduce John Albanese, who will speak for the J.D. Class, having been elected by popular vote of that class.