Friday, June 29, 2012

We Will Be Loved - By Columbia!

Last night was a lot of fun. I stayed in Morvarid's dorm until about 10:30 (I was definitely enjoying the wifi) and even had a pizza study break. Then I went back to my dorm so I wouldn't be late for curfew, where we had a suite meeting. It was nice because we haven't really had a sit down meeting since the first day and we took the the time to get to know each other better. It was a nice meeting and I hope we'll be interacting more as a suite as time goes on.

Our lovely suite! (From left to right): Torre, me, Kristen (R.A.), Nas, Jennifer, Nathalie, and Sangela
New York pizza is to die for
Meet my roommate, Nathalie! She's from Lebanon
She speaks French AND Arabic
And is a wonderful person who takes wonderful pictures (:
I didn't get too much sleep though, because today was the Maroon 5 concert! Actually, to clarify, the term concert should be used loosely. What really happened was that Maroon 5 opened for The Today Show, so they weren't on for the entire time. I awoke at 5, armed with a couple of posters and ready to go. But the weather had a different story. As soon as I stepped outside, it began pouring rain and there were flashes of lightning! Thankfully, I had remembered to bring my umbrella, so I ran across campus to the Gazebo, where they were handing out ponchos. Then the RAs lead us to the subway, where we took the metro to Rockefeller Plaza.

Aurea, Morvarid, and Brittany
Momo and I on the subway
Our wonderful new friend Brittany!
Outside of the plaza
Brittany and I
I read up a lot on Rockefeller in APUSH and was sad I didn't get to go inside! Hopefully another day

Forming a human chain to get through the crowds...
Morvarid and Brittany
Dre Dre and Ray Ray (=
Ahhhhh!! All Maroon 5 fans should be screaming at this wonderful quality of a picture
Al Rocker as he began the show
Poster I made for Adam Levine!
Wonderful Maroon 5 posters we got!
I haven't been to too many concerts, so I was a little unsure on what to do. To sum it up, you really have to push your way through to make it to the front. Morvarid, Brittany, Aurea, and I were at first standing behind the stage, but that was completely pointless, so we worked our way around and made it to a spot that wasn't very close to the stage but had a good enough proximity. We got photos of Adam Levine, the lead singer in Maroon 5, and even some videos. The band played three songs and then the show began, which is when people started leaving. We got back to Columbia at nine, so I took the time to get breakfast and then read up on the cases. Then I went to the morning session. Honestly, it was very hard getting through the morning session due to a lack of sleep. Even though I had coffee with me, it was hard to really stay on point through the lecture. Fortunately, I was able to get lots of notes and memorized them later, even though I didn't participate in the morning discussion as much.

Coffee doesn't help me in the mornings; it just makes me more tired!
  • Schenck v. United States - Charles Schenck was the Secretary of the Socialist Party of America and mailed documents that were opposed to the World War I military draft. It was determined that this violated the Espionage Act of 1917, which upheld that Schenck didn't have a first amendment right to express his freedom of speech against the draft. Due to this, Schenck spent six months in prison.
  • Abrams v. United States - The Russian defendants were charged and convicted for inciting resistance to World War I. Due to the Sedition Act, it was determined that it was a criminal offense to urge the stopping of production of war materials against Germany to help America's WWI effort. The Abrams were sentenced to twenty years in prison.
  • Masses Publishing Company v. United States - A New York postmaster refused to allow circulation of an antiwar journal, which violated the magazine's first amendment rights.
Not only did all of these cases take place around the same time, but they all connected to the limitations on freedom of speech, which we discussed more in the afternoon session. I ate a very quick lunch and then immediately headed back to my dorm to take a well-deserved nap.

After midday break, I went back to class and was ready to participate more. Jeffrey started off class with handing out the research paper syllabus. The goal of this paper is to: "...construct a clear and persuasive legal argument that uses legal precedents and texts to substantiate your claim. Avoid moral, political, or other types of arguments." Jeffrey said that this research paper will be like nothing we have read in high school. I'm nervous but excited for the challenge. We were given another page that has eight topics to choose from, but we also have the choice of coming up with our own topic. However, I plan on choosing from the given list. My top three topics are:

  1. Should the President be allowed more powers in cases of National Emergency to protect the nation? If so, what powers? Under what circumstances?
  2. In Germany, the sale and ownership of Nazi memorabilia is illegal. Should the U.S. limit the use of racist speech by prohibiting the literature and objects of racial groups such as the Klu Klux Klan?
  3. Affirmative action has been called reverse discrimination. Can certain forms of unequal treatment, such as affirmative action programs, be constitutionally justified? If so, how? If not, why not?
I  am still deciding what topic I will choose, but at this point I am really leaning towards completing number three. Affirmative action is a controversy that interests me and I love writing about women and African-American struggles in terms of education. We have until next Thursday to pick our topics, so I still have time. After Jeffrey finished explaining the logistics of the paper, we went into our lecture and discussion about limitations on freedom of speech and different types of speech.
  • Symbolic Speech - This type of speech deals with actions that convey a position, such as burning flags and wearing armbands in honor of war veterans. If no one knows what the message of symbolic speech is, then it may be considered an exclusion and therefore be unprotected. 
  • Majority v. Minority - An opinion can only be considered "true" or "right" if there is complete freedom of speech and ideas (i.e. market of ideas). It is unjustified for a majority group to stifle a minority's group's voice. Even opinions that are completely wrong should be exposed so society can challenge them and learn how our opinions are correct. Public discourse is a way of educating the majority, which means the minority opinion should be spoken and discussed as well.
  • Freedom of Speech: The Right - Freedom of speech is a democratic/political right, therefore the government cannot entirely restrict it. Free speech is valued because it is the expression of an individual and allows people to be who they want to be, which ties into self worth. 
  • Two Limits - Violations of freedom of speech is if it presents a clear and present danger to society or presents a government disruption. For example, court is in session and a man in the crowd is talking. The judge asks him to be quiet, but he continues talking. The judge then has this man escorted out of court but not before demanding a 40 dollar fine. What the man in the crowd presented was a government disrpution.
  • Slander/Fighting Words - Slander is speech that is untrue and can really ruin someone's reputation. However, fighting words are used to incite a fight with others. 
The first week of Constitutional Law has been absolutely amazing. I feel myself getting smarter every day and am really thankful that I am learning more political science on one of the most amazing university's in the world. Improvements I would have for next week would be to participate more in class in terms of discussion. I feel like I have improved in the past two days, but that I can really pick it up and not be intimidated by those around me.

After class, I took another quick nap and then got dinner with some friends in John Jay. Then I went back to my dorm, relaxed, and then got ready for the dinner we had with four rising juniors from Columbia. The cohort met at 7:40 and took the subway for Columbus Circle - a wonderful surprise was that we realized we were on the same train as Ms. L! Since we were a bit early for dinner, Ms. L went over the details of our weekend and gave us money for food, since John Jay dining hall is closed on the weekends.

Opinions about the Columbia on Columbia Dinner: 
(Note: I am calling it the Columbia on Columbia dinner because we are the ILC Columbia cohort, we are already at Columbia, and here we are having dinner with current Columbia students and talking more about Columbia. Tongue twister much? Say that five times fast.)

1. We dined at Marea's, a really nice restaurant that is not far from Columbus Circle. The food was seafood based and was absolutely amazing. It was definitely a huge difference from all the rich food I have been eating in John Jay dinging hall.

2. We had dinner with four Columbia rising juniors: Matt Arciniega, who attended my high school and our Columbia dinner back in San Francisco in May, and his three friends Andrea, Mario, and Theo. Matt sat on my left and Andrea sat to my right. What I really noticed was how friendly, casual, and even playful the four of them were with each other. They were from all different parts of the United States but Andrea even joked that she's "from the Bay Area." While they were casual with one another and we shared many a laughs at the dinner table, they were all clearly very serious about Columbia and really wanted to answer all of our questions.

3. Andrea is a political science and art history major at Columbia. She said that she applied to twelve schools and that her top three choices for college were Columbia, Cornell University, and Swarthmore College. She said the minute she stepped onto Columbia she knew it was for her. Andrea stated she knew this because she loved the city aspect and realized how much she didn't want to spend her four years in college strictly on campus. There are so many opportunities in New York City! Andrea spoke fondly of her Literature Humanities teacher, who took their class to see the opera. She also spoke of one of her art history professors, who led a lecture in MoMa. Andrea said, "Obviously you'll meet a wide range of professors at every school, but the professors at Columbia really care about you."

4. Theo is an economics major and is minoring in art history. He is from Princeton, New Jersey but didn't want to apply to Princeton because he wanted a new atmosphere. Theo's parents really bid Williams College to him but in the end he chose Columbia and does not regret his decision. I found it interesting how he stated that his parents campaigned Williams to him for an hour but that he chose Columbia instead because he really liked the atmosphere and the people.

5. Mario is a political science major and applied Early Decision to Columbia because the school really sold itself to him. Mario cracked a lot of jokes during the dinner and made it very lively. But he did somberly state how he didn't get to see his parents that often, but college is not someplace where your parents are supposed to come and hold your hand. He feels that Columbia really connects the undergraduate experience with city life, which really prepares you. He also said the financial aid package at Columbia was wonderful, and that it was cheaper for him to go to Columbia than Ohio State (he's from Ohio).

6. Before I came to Columbia, I was not sold on the idea of a Core Curriculum. I felt that it was too restricting and that I would never end up enjoying it. However, the four students really explained the meaning of the Core and how it brought Columbia students together. Andrea even stated that the Core was one of the reasons she came to Columbia. Matt explained that all freshmen take the year long course Literature Humanities, which discusses novels of Western Thought throughout all the centuries, starting with Homer's The Iliad and ending with Virginia Wolf's To the Lighthouse. Sophomores take the course Contemporary Civilizations, which does the same thing as Literature Humanities, just with philosophy instead of literature. Theo even stated that his mind was like mine but had been swayed by the Core. By the end of dinner, I realized how much I actually wouldn't mind the Core if I was a Columbia student and that it sounded much more interesting than I thought it would. Mario stated that the Core really forces students to break out of their comfort zones and become well-rounded students.

7. I was also conflicted about Greek life, but each student said that the fraternities and sororities at Columbia were all great and not exclusive. Matt stated that being in a sorority was one of the more relaxed activities he participated in. Each student also spoke fondly of the dorm life at Columbia; apparently 95 percent of Columbia students live on campus all four years. 

8. Columbia seems like a really connected community, which I like in a school. It's in the middle of the city, has about 4 to 5,000 undergraduates, has a splendid Core Curriculum, and is stated to be a really politically active school. I feel like Columbia is really changing my mind about some things. I know I am interested in pursuing writing and English in college, but now I am considering a possibly minor in political science. I feel like this dinner also really interested me in Columbia more, and I am definitely looking more into it.

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Unfortunately, the cohort had to leave dinner early to rush back to the dorms for curfew. Columbia HSP is very strict about being on time for curfew. I'm proud to report that we all made it back on time, but barely. I know we'll be more careful next time we're out so late like that.

However, I am really looking forward to this weekend and learning more about Columbia!

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