Monday, June 25, 2012


A picture of the Low Library from this morning
We woke up at about 6:15 AM today. Most days, we'll probably wake up around 9, but today we had to attend an orientation at 8 AM in Lerner Hall and our group had agreed to meet at 6:50 to head down over John Jay for breakfast a little earlier than other groups (1000 kids would be waiting breakfast at the same time). We got our breakfast on time, and finished and got in line at about 7:40 to enter the auditorium. The breakfast was ok, there were plenty of options but most were pretty dull, although my breakfast at home is usually pretty dull anyway. We ended up waiting in line for 20 minutes and then in the auditorium for over an hour for the presentation, which was only about 30 minutes. We were also given our schedules, maps of the campus, subway and bus, and information about activities, among other things.

The Furnald building, where my dad stayed when he was
attending Columbia
At the conclusion of the orientation, we walked to our first class; my class was with a guy named Jeffrey Lenowitz (I'm not going to be formal, because he prefers to be called just "Jeffrey") on the 7th floor of the Hamilton building. We (all the other Con Law students) all introduced ourselves to each other, and after a few minutes, the teacher (professor?) showed up. We entered, and the class turned out to have 29 students, still small enough so that you don't feel at all like a number, especially considering that some of my suitemates' business and engineering classes have something like 80 or 140 kids. The 10 AM class, it turned out, would be short, as he was simply giving an introduction to the class, and an introduction to the first topic we'd be studying, the Bill of Rights. I don't remember exactly, but I believe our teacher is in the 7th year of trying to get his Ph.D, and it has something to do with the different ways in which constitutions are made. He has a sense of humor and seemed like a very intellectual guy, definitely somebody whose class would probably have an atmosphere I would enjoy.
This class, on the other hand, did not start off well for me. As our teacher/professor (I'm not sure which to use, but I'll refer to him as my teacher from now on because that's what I'm used to) got into the introduction of the Bill of Rights, he began to go over a lot of the history of the Bill of Rights, and while I followed everything he was saying without a problem, I was unable to participate just because I didn't know the majority of what he was saying until after he said it. I love to participate in class (and I also NEED to because it's 40% of the class evaluation), but was unable to because I just didn't know the answers to many of the questions he was asking (ex. He would give some information, and then basically ask what happened next). For anyone reading this because they googled the name "Jeffrey Lenowitz" or "Columbia's High School program on Constitutional Law," I'll tell you before you get the wrong idea that this would completely change; I would end up loving the class.

But I didn't know that yet. Anyway, I knew we would be learning about Constitutional Law, but, to sum up my problem in a nutshell, the questions he was asking everyone seemed to be more about what we "know" than what we "think." I am a person that definitely would have more success in a class about what we as students think than what we know (not that I don't know anything, just that I like to give my opinions and thoughts). I was frustrated and a bit concerned because, while I had learned, I has sat quietly taking notes the entire time and had not answered any questions. The class ended up getting out at 10:45 instead of 12, and I used my free time to get started in my blog and walk down to the bookstore to get my class textbook, which looks and weighs about the same as a brick. It looks interesting though. ( )

I used the rest of my lunch time to blog and eat in the dining hall; lunch was good, but not great in taste, but fantastic in that I didn't spend any money for it. I went to my second class of the day at 2 PM. This class is usually taught by Luke MacInnis, but today was taught by the teacher of our first class, (Mr.) Jeffrey Lenowitz. In this class, we spent the entire class on the Bill of Rights and some of the class' law vocabulary. Going over the Bill of Rights, though, was not simply just reading; the majority of the class asked a question at some point or the other, and many students asked more than one. While discussing how the United States' judiciary branch was the only branch of government who's leaders were not chosen by the people, I asked what reasons the U.S. government had given(and/or gives today) to justify this in a nation that was supposed to be a democracy. Anyway, going over the Bill of Rights fascinating to me; I had a general idea of what they did/said, but I had never spent a full hour going over each of them with class discussion, and to be honest, I was not as familiar with them as I would like to be.

By the end of the class, though, I felt completely comfortable with what I was learning, and I had even applied it to real life already. While I was not as informed on the Constitution as I would want to be, I feel very informed about some of the issues in society, and off of the top my head I could think of numerous laws and issues in our society that were direct violations of the Constitution. There are numerous violations all over society, I feel, of the First Amendment; to name one, California Penal Code Sec. 407 states, “Whenever two or more persons assemble together to do a lawful act in a violent, boisterous or tumultuous manner, such assembly is considered an unlawful assembly.” By definition, anything "loud" can also be considered "boisterous," and by that line of thinking, any police force who finds a protest to be "loud" can criminalize an assembly, which, while loud, is peaceful, meaning it is protected by the First Amendment. Just a quick example I came up with, although there are many others: the death penalty I feel is a blatant violation of the 8th Amendment, although that is completely a matter of opinion. On that note, that was another thing we learned today, that the Bill of Rights is EXTREMELY vague, and as times change, so does the meaning of "cruel or unusual punishment."
The sky about 5 minutes before a downpour - conveniently right when I was walking outside
After class, our cohort met up for a recap of the day and any concerns (my internet, although it's been fixed now) we would like to express. We are all enjoying ourselves, though! After that, we all went to check out the statue in front of Colombia's main library; we were trying to find the owl because, according to a friend of Morvarid's, the person to find the owl will be his class' valedictorian (or something like that). I actually got extremely lucky and found the owl in about 20 seconds (I won't say where), which of course brought out instant accusations of cheating. I actually just got really lucky, and I think it must be something good, although I've probably countered all that by upsetting the Columbia gods for not knowing the name of their statue or their library or for not knowing the rules of the game. Maybe an hour after that, I ate dinner with a few other members of the cohort, which was fun as usual. The food (spaghetti and meatballs) was very good, although not as good as my mom's.

By the way, I named this blog Kindergarten because today was similar to the first day of Kindergarten in that I was extrememly excited to try something important I had never done before. Pretty random, but it probably caught your attention more than "First Day of School." And it makes sense, right?

Anyway, I'm really enjoying the class, and although I have homework, I'm actually looking forward to it just a little bit because I actually enjoy learning these kinds of things!

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