Monday, July 2, 2012

Back to Basics

Unlike last weekend, today was really uneventful. I reverted to my basic morning routine of waking up early and studying before finally heading off to class. 

Today's morning class was lead by Jeffery, who began the class with a short lecture on the origin of our civil rights. We learned that civil rights can be traced back to three main sources: 

  1. The Bill of Rights: Which gave legal citizens their basic rights such as the freedom of speech.
  2. The 14th Amendment: Which made it unconstitutional to restrict any legal citizen's rights. 
  3. Incorporation: Which began the trend of the 14th Amendment being applied to the States. 
We then went onto review our weekend homework, with the central theme of the cases being the powers infringement of one's freedom of expression, due to accusations of incitement of destructive behavior towards the government. Amongst the cases we discussed today were Gitlow v. New York, Whitney v. California, and Dennis v. United States. 

As you may have guessed, lunch today was the same as always. I first had lunch with the girls in the cafeteria and then returned to my dorm room to start on my homework. 

For the afternoon session of class, we watched two films--The First Amendment Project and The Most Dangerous Man in AmericaThe First Amendment Project was about controversies surrounding the First Amendment, such as that between comedian Al Franken and Fox News reporter Bill O'Reilly over a dispute caused by Franken using a picture of O'Reilly on the cover of his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. The second film, The Most Dangerous Man in America was a 2009 documentary about the scandal that occurred in 1971, when Daniel Ellsberg, the eponymous "most dangerous man", released the Pentagon Papers--top secret papers documenting controversial studies concerning the Vietnam War--to the New York Times. Both movies dealt with legal cases that we will be covering in class in the near future, Fox v. Franken and New York Times Co. v. United States respectively.  

After class came our daily meeting with Mrs. L, where we discussed the details of our boat trip tomorrow, as well as other upcoming events. When we finished discussing our plans, we then went onto talking about how we felt after our first week at Columbia. We were told to give an adjective that describes how we feel about the school, the people, the city and then explain why we chose that word. The words of my cohorts varied according to their personalities--their answers ranged from "amazing" to "crackin'". 

The word that I chose, while cliche, accurately describes my feelings about everything. My word was "unbelievable. Never in my life have I imagined myself at Columbia University, in New York City, or anyplace too far away from home. Just waking up knowing that I'm going to school with hundreds of equally bright and unique students or that Times Square is only a 20 minutes subway ride away is just too hard to believe. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I'm grateful for every second of it--even the "uneventful" parts. When the meeting was over, I ate dinner with the others and went back to my dorm to finish my homework with my newly arrived text book.

Although I said that today was uneventful, that was only in comparison to the past few days, which were admittedly a lot more exciting. I hosnelty appreciate very moment of my stay here, and I can't thank the Ivy League Connection enough for this opportunity. As I said before, this is once in a lifetime chance to enjoy this trip--and enjoy it I shall! 

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