Friday, July 6, 2012

Top of the Rock and Democracy

My morning  back fell into my usual routine, there wasn't even a fire alarm to spice things up.  

Once again, it was Jeffrey teaching the morning class. The central theme of today were the rights established by the 14th and 13th Amendments, which guaranteed basic civil rights and equal protection for all US citizens. Cases such as Dred Scott v. Sanford, Plessy v. Fergurson, and Brown v. Board dealt with the central issue of whether segregation and discrimination were considered unconstitutional under either Amendment. 

It was interesting to see the to see how biased the Prosecution's arguments; they were obviously fueled by racism and bigotry rather than valid legal arguments. They even went as far as to dehumanize African-Americans by refusing to acknowledge their citizenship. The job of these justices is to fairly interpret the Constitution and use said interpretations to solve legal issues without allowing their bias to get in the way.

During lunch, Columbia hosted a information seminar. I found the Columbian admissions process to be very similar to that of the other Ivy Leagues; they expect students to achieve the best grades possible in the highest level courses available, to partake in extracurricular, and to present their personal statement in a way that easily and effectively captures their personalty. Besides the infamous Columbia swimming test, there wasn't much presented information that was particularly unique to Columbia, which was somewhat disappointing. However, I was able to get a few things out of the seminar, as hearing the admissions officer talk about how they were looking for more original personal statements gave me a few ideas of how I wanted to write and present my own. Some of the ideas I came up with included a third-person story format as well as an essay on how my childhood inspirations and aspirations helped my grow up into I am today. 

The afternoon class, which was taught by both Luke and Jeffery, was spent watching the documentary Torture and Democracy. The documentary was about the constitutionality and ethics of torture conducted by the United States, specifically the torture cases associated Guantanamo Bay detention camp after the events of 9/11. The film brought upon a somber mood and a disgusted reaction from the class, as well as a very controversial question--can extreme methods torture be justified by the prospect of national security?  The class was unable to reach a definite answers; some, including myself, were so adamant about the illegality of torture that cannot be overlooked while others argued that the lives and safety the nation outweighed those of suspected detainees. The question was soon followed by similar rhetorical questions such as, such as whether one could make the conscious decision to kill one person if it meant preserving the lives of many others. 

After class came our usual meeting with Mrs. L. Today's meeting was the same as usual. We went over our plans for tomorrow, which include trips to NYU's campus and the 9/11 memorial, as well as a dinner with Vassar alumni. We decided that we'll leave at 9:45 tomorrow morning, in order to meet Mrs. L in time for our 11:30 tour of NYU. 

When the meeting was over, Lucas, Morvarid, Brittany, and I decided to take a trip to the Rockefeller Center's Top of the Rock. For those who don't know, the Top of the Rock is refers to the gorgeous view of  New York City that can be seen from a top of the Rockefeller Center's 70 stories. We left at 6:30 PM, in order to be able to see the City's landscape during sunset. Before entering the Rockefeller Center, we made a quick visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral located a few blocks away from the Center. The inside of church was very beautiful, but I was unable to take any pictures due to a malfunction with my camera. Luckily, I was able to fix it while inside the Rockefeller Center. 

On the Center's 69th and 70th floor observation decks where were able to see what looked like the entirety of midtown Manhattan. 

The City That Never Sleeps, indeed.

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