Friday, June 29, 2012

The First Amendment and a Plight

As I said before, my mornings thus far follow a basic pattern of wake up, study, and go to class. Today was no exception.  

The main focus of today's class were the rights bestowed on us by the First Amendment, namely the right to the freedom of speech. As per routine, Luke began the class with a discussion topic. This time, we were asked the question "What is the purpose of free speech?" By the end of the discussion, we reached the following conclusions: 

  • To promote truth
  • To promote peace
  • To prevent rebellion
  • To promote tolerance
  • To promote autonomy
  • To promote democracy 
  • To promote self government 

  • To prevent "dogma", the presence of only one dominating opinion 
The cases we went over today were Schenck b. United States, Abrams v. United States, and Masses Publishing Co. v. Patten. Each of these cases shared the same basic issue of whether the First Amendment protects citizens from being for prosecuted potentially harmful propaganda. The rest of the class was spent exploring the powers of the First Amendment. 

Instead of just hanging out for lunch, I decided to join Lenny at a "TED Talk", which is where a group of students watch a short speech from non-profit organization that allows people to share their new and innovative ideas with the world. After the video, students discuss about the information presented to them. Today's topic was, presented Sam Harris, was on how "science can answer moral questions". If you would like to watch the video, you can do so here

Personally, I feel as though the integration of morals and science is impossible. Science is based on fact, and morals on opinion. Scientific questions have testable, definite answers, whereas morals do not.Basing morals on scientific research alone would then restrict individualized belief, which would in turn  hinder both cultural and personal ethics through a process similar to assimilation. While I didn't agree with Harris' arguments, I still really enjoyed the talk. Being able to hear everyone's opinion exposed me to some new viewpoints that I had never previously considered. I think that exposure such as this is very important if one wants to be an active member of society, as being introduced to new opinions and beliefs is something that is sure to happen   nearly everyday. 

Before the actual lesson started, Jeffery began to talk about on of our upcoming assignment, a research paper arguing the constitutionality of a current legal issue, such as the death penalty or Affirmative Action. While the paper itself is due on the 9th, our topic is due this Friday. 

The afternoon class's lesson continued the theme of "speech and it's limitations". One of the main focuses of the lecture was how the freedom of speech is so heavily protected, the reason for which is outlined in the following seven points: 
  1. The Harm Principle: States that as long as speaker's intent was not to cause harm or destruction, they are allowed to say whatever they please. 
  2. Education Agreement: States that if we allow the educated to express their ideas, they will inform and incite the uneducated.   
  3. Liberal #1: States that you may say whatever you please as long as it is without the intent to forcibly  coerce others beliefs. 
  4. Liberal #2: The "property of rights." States that certain forms of speech are immune to state intervention. 
  5. Democratic Agreement: States that publicity and criticism are protected under the First Amendment.
  6. Self Expression: States that everyone has the right to express their unique opinions. 
  7. Advancement of Science and Culture: As the name suggest, freedom of speech allows for the spread of enlightened ideas and opinions. 
After class, I decided to eat lightly in order to save room for our evening dinner with current Columbia students. With over three hours to get ready, I spent most of my time getting ahead on my weekend homework before I finally went down to meet with the rest of the group. At 7:40 PM my cohorts and I left school to meet with Mrs. L at Columbus Circle. 

Tonight we ate at Marea, a very elegant Italian restaurant with a very wonderful, and dedicated staff. Not only was the restaurant kind enough to offer our group a private room for free, but it's servers were versed enough with the menu that they were able to recite the menu by heart! They even gave us complementary muffins on the way out! 

During the dinner itself, I mainly spoke with Mario and Adriana--two rising junior Columbia students who who's relationship was eerily similar to that of Adrianne and Lucas. Between laughter and dining, we also talked about things such as Columbia's core curriculum, dormitories, and facilities. I honestly think that this was my favorite dinner so far! Not only was the food great, but I managed to learn a lot about Columbia and found out that it's not too different from what we're experiencing now at the High School Summer Program.

The only problem with this evening was a matter of our curfew--by the time we reached the desert course we had less than half an hour to get back to our dorms. After a few rushed goodbyes, we ran to the subway and back to campus as fast as we could. Thankfully, in the end I made it back to my dorm on time--with only four minutes to spare!

I'm glad to say that I'm really starting to adjust to everything both in and out of school. Not only am I talking more in class, but I'm also participating in more activities and meeting more and more people. Now that my first official week as a Columbia student is over, I'm really excited to see what the next two weeks have in store. 

They Say Rain Is A Sign Of Luck...

Aurea, Adrianne, Britney, and I went to the Maroon 5 concert! I absolutely love their band ever since a very young age when I use to always wait for their music to come on Alice 97.3 radio station. At that time, I didn't even distinguish them by a particular name like "Maroon 5," I just knew every lyric to their songs without even knowing who they really were. I remember being only in elementary school and being completely obsessed with their songs, not even knowing what half of the things they said really meant. Now that I'm older, I'm not really as obsessed with celebrities like I use to be since now I realize that they're all just normal people, but I will always love Maroon 5 because their music almost create a 6th sense for me in which I can connect to the past. Believe it or not, I have so many memories with their music that I will always have a soft spot for them in my heart. It sounds kind of "cheesy," but it's true!

When I realized there was going to be a FREE Maroon 5 concert, I was absolutely estatic. Back in California, my friend had gotten tickets to go to their concert in Lake Tahoe, but she paid nearly $2000 dollars per ticket, plus the venue was too far from my home. I felt really unfortunate for not being able to go, but in the end, it seems like Maroon 5 came to ME!

We tried sleeping a lot earlier last night and take naps often to be perpared for this big, eventful day today. In all, we were successful! We woke up at around 4AM but all met out at the gazebo at around 5:30. Unfortunately, the thunderstorm broke out and rain poured over us like an endless waterfall. A lot of my friends told us later in the afternoon, "did the rain and thunder wake you too?" Little did they know we were out their under the rain while they were in their warm cozy beds watching the lightening flicker through the window their dorms.

When we arrived there, we met a lot of people that actually stayed their from midnight and were right next to us! We felt bad for them because we technically had a bare minimum of 4 additional hours of sleep compared to them but still ended up as far back as they were. Although our positions weren't the best, I'm still glad I went because it will always be reminded of it as a memorable experience. Long story short, we had a lot of laughs and just an over all good time together. If only we wouldn't have been worried to risk lose our spots even in the back when we saw people moving to the front, we would have had a really nice view of them. Either way, I'm sure the nation had a nice view of us since we were recorded on TV while I was asking Adam Levine (the lead singer of the band) to prom. It was a total joke, but nonetheless it was funny. I just held a sign simply saying, "Prom?" in large dark letters just to be different from the endless crowd holding generic "we love you" and "I got the moves like Jagger" signs. Although, I'm sure Adam said yes secretly to my invitation either way(totally kidding by all means).

After the concert, Britney and Aurea grab a bite to eat at the nearest bakery while Adrianne and I sat together to rest our feet. We met up with the RA and the other students right outside the bakery in front of Saint Paul's Cathedral and prepared for our walk back to the metro. We arrived back at around 9AM and managed to have an adequate amount of time to eat breakfast as well.

For class today, things were a little bit different than usual for our first session. Instead of a discussion, we went to Hamilton Hall room 318 and watched a documentary about Hamilton himself. It certainly had a touching effect sitting in a hall dedicated to him at a university that he actually attended. The window to my room is actually right above the monument dedicated to him and as I am typing at this very moment, I look down and notice him still standing tall and proud despite all the misfortunate events that occured in his lifetime. He was a man spark by ambition and tragedy and will leave his mark always, not only on this nation, but also New York and the nation as a whole. While watching the two hour long documentary, I endlessly took notes to as I watched and jotted down almost all important aspects of his life I did not know about. It wasn't quite necessary to write notes during the class, which is why I was probably the only person constantly writing notes during class, but I did it anyway for the sake of my learning. I enjoyed the documentary a lot and stayed a little bit after class to ask the professor some questions and clear up some of my confusion in regards to some aspects of the documentary that were relatively unclear. In all, class today was really enjoyable.

After class, I came home and took a nice nap in preparation for our dinner. I was so excited to go out again with my cohort and Mrs.L! The first week of our trip, dinners like these were basically embedded within our routine, but now I rarely see my entire cohort and Mrs.L so I miss them all dearly. The dinner to place at Marea, a delicious restaurant right across from Central Park. No sooner had I realized before entering the restaurant that the zesty aromas of the dishes teased my nostrils with nostalgia.

Promptly upon our arrival, we proceeded to enter our downstairs private room and were greeted with a few of the many marvelous students from Columbia University. Each of them were all so unique and friendly that I truly had an amazing time with all of them. I had the pleasure to sit with Theo and Matt, and also speak to Andrea and Mario. Unfortunately, Andrea and Mario were on the other side of the dining table so I did not have the full opportunity have a very thorough conversation as I would have liked, but I was still honored to have the opportunity to talk to them as much as I did. For most of the night, however, I spoke to Matt and Theo about a lot of different matters. Whether we were speaking about Columbia, the education system, ourselves, or simply joking around with one another, I truly had a good time. They definitely intensified my already great interest in Columbia University. They were all very nice and I enjoyed their company! Hopefully next week if I have the opportunity to attend the poetry night, I can see them all again.

On a different note, however, by the time dessert arrived it was already 11:25 PM and our curfew was at midnight. Anxiety stormed it's way into our hearts and we were extremely nervous about making it back to our appropriate rooms on time. As soon as we noticed the time,we ate our desserts as fast as we could, thanked all our guests for being there, and rushed right out of the restaurant and down to the subway. We had 10 minutes to get to Columbia University from Columbus Circle, run in our hall, and be literally inside our rooms before the clock struck 12:01 AM. When the train door opened allowing us to exit to Columbia University, we all just physically ran up the stairs and across campus to reach our dorms as soon as possible. At this point, we only had 5 minutes left to make it to the other side of the campus. From the metro to the other side of the campus, I ran in 3 inch heels and a dress; now that's what I call a Wonder Woman. I was running in about the same speed as the rest of my cohort and they had switched to flats from their bags, or in the men's case, they already were in flats. Since my hall was a lot farther than the rest of my cohort who conveniently lived in the same building, Mrs.L asked one of the guys to walk me to my hall before going to their own room if possible. However, realistically we only had 4 minutes which was EXACTLY what it took to have our IDs checked, wait for the elevator/run up stairs, and be in our rooms. They couldn't walk me to my hall and I honestly didn't expect it of them because if they did, they would have been punished for violating the curfew. Instead, they just made sure I was in my dorm by checking up on me and calling me as soon as I got there. Thank goodness they didn't come because I made it to my room exactly TWO minutes before curfew. If they did come, there would have been no way they could make it back in time to their own hall.
While running in my heels, there were about 15 RAs sitting and walking around campus, and they all made some sort of comment like, "wow, now that's what I call determination" while all the girls just watched shockingly to see me run in heels. I'm assuming it's not every day they see a girl sprinting across campus like that; I guess you can say that today I have discovered a hidden talent?

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!

Friday Morning Rain is Falling

Yes, it was pouring here at 5 AM. Now this may not have been cumbersome for most Columbia students, but that’s a different story for those going to see Maroon 5 that morning. And fortunately for me, I was one of them. I awoke at said time to depart for the Maroon 5 performance at Rockefeller Center. So imagine my face when I walked out my dorm. My jaw probably dropped and I cursed the rain for the umpteen time. So after grabbing a plastic poncho to keep myself partly dry and breaking out my umbrella, we were all ready to depart for the subway. Usual commuters probably gave us peculiar looks seeing teenage girls at about 6 AM partially soaked on the subway. Or they were used to weird occurences in the city and they paid us no mind.

Maroon 5!
Once we exited the subway, we made our way towards Rockefeller Center. Then we arrived near the center, and we dispersed into our respective groups, promising to meet in front of a cathedral to leave together later. So Morvarid, Adrianne, Brittany, and I all pushed our way through to get as close as possible. And along the way we made a few friends with fellow Maroon 5 fans. Al Roker filmed our side of the crowd, so maybe many of you saw me on the Today show! When our departure time came close, we decided to head to the cathedral and back to Columbia University.

After a bustling morning in downtown, I decided to grab some much needed coffee before class. And thank the above I did because if I didn’t then I probably would have fallen asleep; definitely not a good idea. Today during class we watched a documentary on Alexander Hamilton. But before the movie started, our teacher tested the projector with an Alexander Hamilton rap from The rap was very interesting; the rapper narrated the song from Aaron Burr’s perspective, so parts were of course bias towards the man on the ten dollar bill. The video gave me a newfound respect for Hamilton. I always knew of his contributions into America’s economic system but I never realized what a huge impact it had on us. Although, I will always be a Jeffersonian at heart.

Lunch then came and once I had my fill I made a beeline for my room for a quick nap. I’m amazed I stayed awake the whole day up until my head touched my pillow during midday break. Thankfully my roommate woke up me up when she entered the room or I might have been late for my next class.

As I arrived at Butler library, I settled myself in a corner to get some work done. My outline for my research paper is near completion and I have most of my sources found. I just need a book on Eisenhower, I believe. And I have finally established my research thesis and I don’t plan on changing it anymore. So now I will be doing the differences in presidential legacies as time goes by.

So after my usual session in Butler Library, I had some time to kill due to the upcoming dinner we had with current Columbia students. So for a good two hours I wandered campus and relaxed. Then as six o’clock rolled around, I started to get ready for my dinner. After a good hour and a half of pampering and refreshing myself, I exited the Carman building with Morvarid. I’m sure people were giving us a few peculiar looks with the way we were dressed. While everyone else around us was dressed in shorts and t-shirts, we were dressed in dresses and heels. Even a few people turned their heads when they saw Lenny and Lucas.

We're so fancy!
After taking the subway to Columbus Circle, we met Ms. L to depart together for the restaurant. Since we were a little early for our reservations, we decided to stay inside Time Warner to cool off from the heat. Inside we discussed potential trips we will be taking, and one of them must be a museum. We all have potential locations we want to visit, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Museum of Natural History.

Once dinner time neared, we trekked to “Marea,” an Italian restaurant near Central Park. Luckily for us, the restaurant reserved a private room for our group that evening. There we met with four current Columbia students; Mario, Matt, Adriana, and Theo. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Mario, a rising junior from Ohio, while across from him was Adriana, a rising junior from Florida. Dinner was definitely an interesting affair. As I observed Adriana and Mario, I found the way they interacted was very similar with Adrianne and Lucas. Tomi and I came to the conclusion and we immediately started laughing. Watching the two pairs banter playfully back and forth was definitely entertaining. I learned some much needed advice about Columbia University. They explained the core curriculum in depth, so I now have a better idea as to what to expect while going to college here.

Unfortunately for high school students in the summer program, we have curfew. Sadly we had to depart a little earlier than we liked to get back in time, or our residential advisors would have grounded us. So the six cohorts for the Columbia program must have looked odd running back to our dorms all gussied up. It’s okay, we all made it back in time. Hopefully.

We Put the Constitution in Jeopardy

I think I've entered a consistent sleep routine. Each night  I go to bed at about 1:00 AM. My roommate wakes me up in the morning by slamming the door at around 7:00. Rather than being annoying, this is a big help. I fall back asleep again, but it makes it much easier to awaken from my alarm at 8:50.

Once again, I don't have much to write about tonight. Yesterday, it was because I had very little time. Today, it's because I just didn't do much.

The first half of class was spent reviewing cases that we read last night. It's hard to summarize them all, because they covered a broad range of topics. At this point, we are basically just reading major Supreme Court decisions to be knowledgeable on important precedents and have an understanding of how justices have interpreted the Constitution.

At lunch, I watched a TED talk on Economic Inequality. I had heard of these before, but never seen one. It was really fascinating. The speaker went into detail on the implications of the matter, without losing objectivity. The evidence was all empirical, even when it pointed to a clear solution. After the video, everyone in attendance had a discussion about the subject.

When we returned to class, we took a quiz on cases we had read and played a game of "Constitutional Jeopardy." I would like to point out, that my team, "Team Awesome," came in second place, by a slim margin. The game was really fun.

I didn't go anywhere after class. I spent my time in between dining halls and dorms, just meeting people and making new friends. We don't have much work for tomorrow, so I didn't have to spend too long studying. There were very few scheduled events today, so it seemed like a great opportunity to just relax. I went to an ice cream party on the twelfth floor of Carmen hall for a little while, but I didn't stay too long. Eventually, I just got tired and went back to my room. This probably wasn't the most interesting day to read about, but it was definitely fun and productive.