Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Out on the Hudson

I usually have trouble waking up in the morning, but over the course of this trip, I have developed an ingenious method of forcing myself out of bed. Would you like to know what it is? Basically, I just choose the most annoying noise my iPod can produce, turn up the volume all the way, and set the alarm for a bunch of times, each 5 minutes after the last. I'm usually on my feet by the 2nd or 3rd installment. I don't know how my suite-mates get up before me, because they don't seem to use any alarms at all.Maybe they just have fantastic internal clockwork.

The subject of today's class discussion was obscenity: whether it was protected by the 1st Amendment? If so, to what extent? Who decides what is obscene? etc. I like how the teacher (in this case, Luke) was able to approach a subject that could spark a lot of crudeness with the same scholarly method as he did with  all other topics. Like those of yesterday, these cases showed us how unclear and open to interpretation the law is on the protection of speech. Many Supreme Court decisions seem to contradict previous ones, while still using them as legal precedents.

We got out of class early for the lunch break. Once again, the food in the afternoon was far superior to that in the morning. Today's culinary genre was Italian. After eating, Liam (a student in my class) and I spent about twenty minutes trying to find the room of the second college admissions talk. Despite having wandered aimlessly around the campus for so long, we were some of the first people to arrive. The main message of this session was that a college application should be one fluid resume. Your transcript, personal statement, recommendations and supplementary essays should all emphasize the same basic strengths and interests, but in different ways. Often, your academic essays should express one of your strong suits that your teachers may not be aware of.

In the second half of class, we were broken up into six groups of five people. These groups will be our teams for a mock debate on Thursday. Our team, Group 3, will be suing Group 4, in the imaginary case of Smith v. California. Smith was arrested for burning a flag as an act of protest to the war effort. Under California law, flag burning is only a misdemeanor, which gives us grounds to sue for damages. There are many ways for us to win over this case, but we'll have to discuss which approach we will take in our meeting tomorrow. I can't say anything about our arguments in this post, because Tomi is in Group 4, and she might read this. No cheating, Tomi.

After our research session, I went back to Carmen Hall to do laundry.

At 5:30 PM, our cohort headed down to the subway. We met Ms. L. in Times Square, and caught the bus down to the pier. The boat we boarded was packed, so we're lucky that Ms. L. booked tickets in advance. The boat ride was fantastic, the whole way through. Everything about it was awesome (except, maybe the food). We went from Manhattan, past Ellis Island, past the Statue of Liberty, under the Brooklyn Bridge, under all the other Bridges, and next to Queens, before we made a U-turn and did the whole voyage in reverse. It was honestly, one of the most fun things I've done on this trip, so far.

Back at the pier, we caught another bus, back to the subway. We departed ways with Ms. L. about halfway through our ride; she gets off on a different stop than us. We got back on campus a little before 10:00. I felt a little hungry still, so I went across the street to a Japanese grocery store/ sushi bar to grab a bento box. Tomi decided to accompany me, although she didn't get anything.

Tomorrow, of course, is the 4th of July. I'm still not totally sure what my plans are yet, but I know I'm meeting with our debate group in the morning and watching fireworks at night.

Sunset on the Horizon

Thankfully last night I had an adequate amount of sleep to refresh myself for what lays ahead of us. I didn't wake this morning to review anything from our prior assignments, and instead made the decision to simply rest as much as I could before heading off to breakfast. Therefore, I woke up at 8:30, took a shower, and headed downstairs towards John Jay's dining hall.

My day was very typical in regards to our classes, activities, and schedule. The only situation today that differed from yesterday was the fact that we had a guest speaker in our first session today. The speaker was a student attending law school that assigned reading to us last night and prepared a moot court exercise for us. In preparation for the activity, we read two course information sheets and were asked which one we'd like to argue for. One of the information sheets I read was Sangria v. Belding. The situation is mainly about a school search performed by nearly a few members of the school after hearing about a potential threat on campus. Ms. Sangria believes the search was a violation under the 4th amendment regardless of a potential threat. Just for the challenge, I chose to work in favor of Sangria because it seemed like the harder case to support in regards to this situation. I have 2 other partners for this debate session and they are Rowland and Hayley. They asked me to do the rebuttal so I will be the second speaker, following after Rowland's introductory speech. I didn't really mind which order I went because regardless of my position, I'm very experienced with debating and public speaking so I am both confident and comfortable regardless of which position I speak. However, I was chosen by my group also for another reason, rebuttals are the most intense segment of the argument thus I can present my items very effectively.

On a different note, our second session seemed like it finished a lot earlier! I was really productive and worked really hard today in our research seminar. I feel like my goal to finish my paper on Saturday is a little too unrealistic, but I'm still determined to truly stick to my word an try hard enough to succeed (or at least make it close to my personal deadline).

After the session, I stayed with Rowland and Hayley to discuss our topic and key points of our arguments. We will probably meet up again or at least keep in touch tomorrow in regards to our debate in order to make sure we are properly prepared.

After our group discussion, I rushed to my room and organized a few of my research documents. As soon as I did my work, I went to the dining hall to enjoy a last meal before heading of to the Circle Line Cruise. It was such a breathtaking experience to witness all of New York around you. Just like Lucas said to me when we were in between Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, "This feels so surreal."

The cohort engaging in a serious debate regarding technology.

I planned to sleep earlier upon arrival back to the dorms but I'm not too ashamed to say that that plan actually failed. I decided to maximize the use of my time and conduct more research for Thursday. After contributing more to my paper and preparing more for my course, I began writing this blog to summarize my day with you all. I must say, I'm entirely exhausted but tomorrow is yet another big day for us all...

Stay tuned to hear more about us tomorrow!


My morning was nothing special; it followed my usual routine and nothing more. 

Luke was the one who taught today's morning class. He began the class with a discussion about what it means to do the right thing versus having the right to do something. By the end of the discussion, our class had decided that "doing the right thing" is doing what you believe is morally correct, whereas "having the right do so something" is something that is deemed legal by the government due to morality of the action being considered either neutral or correct. 

Instead of going over our homework like we usually do, we applied the evidence and holdings from the cases and applied them to hypothetical cases. One of the hypothetical cases that we "defended" was Smut v. Prudeville. In the case, the defendant Sally Smut, a photographer who enjoyed posting her racy photographs  both inside and outside her home, was being prosecuted by the people of Prudeville for the public display of obscene material. Using the reasoning from the cases Roth v. United States, Miller v. California, and Paris Adult Theater v. Slaton, the class was able properly defend Ms. Smut's case. 

After class, I decided to eat quickly and then rest up for my next class, instead of studying. I'm glad to say that I made the right choice, because I returned to class a lot more well rested than usual. 

During the afternoon class, Jerrfery announced our debate groups and topics. My group consists of my roommate Lizzy, as well as four of my other classmates,Caroline, Mac Tan, and Brenno, Our debate topic is the following: 

Case One: Smith v. California

Rita Smith was upset and angry after her son died in the line of duty in Iraq. She joined an anti-war group and participated in a protest in San Francisco, During the protest, Rita burned of flag of the US. No one was injured in by the fire. The police, who ere nearby making sure the protest would not get out of control, arrested Rita and other members of her group for disorderly conduct. Rita is suing the state for violating her first amendment rights. 
For the debate, we will be representing the State of California. Our debates shall include a 6 minute opening speech, a Q&A session between the two sides with each side asking the other four questions in total, and then finally a 5 minute closing statement. The rest of the class period was spent in the library, conducting research. Initially, researching for our side was somewhat frustrating--all efforts at suppressing flag burning or similar offenses had been deemed unconstitutional under the claim that they violate the first amendment, but after further research we found some arguments that may just help us win the case. I would like to keep those arguments a surprise--mainly because Lucas and Lenny are on the opposite team! My team and I continued our research until 4:00 PM and we disbanded with our respective assignments in hand.  

At 6:00 PM, the others and I met with Mrs. L in Times Square in order to take a boat cruise on the Circle Line Cruise! I had never been on a boat before, let alone a boat cruise so the trip was an entirely new experience to me!  The cruise was a round-trip sail along the Hudson River and New York Bay. While on the cruise, we enjoyed a leisure dinner of hot dogs and nachos as we took in the glorious sights so the view before us. 

The boat cruise was fantastic and I would really like to go on another one someday. Not only was I able to catch a few glimpses of both New York and New Jersey, but I was also able to learn a little more about New York's history as well. I would also like to mention that was able to meet my personal goal of not getting seasick! This evening was really great and one of my favorite parts of the trip thus far. I just hope that tomorrow's holiday will be just as great!

Boat Cruisin'!

I went to sleep very late last night, so waking up this morning was a struggle. I forgot to get coffee, so I was mainly running on orange juice and a large intake of scrambled eggs when I went to the morning session. We read six cases last night, and majority of them dealt with pornography and some others dealt with protected speech.
  • Roth v. United States - Mr. Roth published a literary porn magazine and had it circulated, and he was charged with violating federal law against obscenity in terms of erotic nudity and pornography. He was convicted because his freedom of speech was not protected.
  • Miller v. California - Mr. Miller was the operator of the West Coast's largest mail-order porn business. He was easily convicted due to violating a California penal code, seeing as though he was mailing obscene material.
  • Paris Adult Theater I v. Slaton - Theater owners would warn their viewers before films that the pornography content could be considered offensive. Viewers of the films also had to be 21 years old. This case ended in the banning of showing adult films in movie theaters. 
  • New York Times v. Sullivan - The New York Times published a full-page advertisement to solicit funds for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so he could obtain a defense attorney. He was fighting a charge in Alabama Court against an Alabama perjury indictment. The advertisement contained false information about the Alabama police force, which angered Mr. Sullivan, who worked as a public official for Alabama. Mr. Sullivan sued the NY Times because he felt the advertisement defamed him. However, he lost the case because a law prohibits a public official cannot recover damages against falsehood, and the advertisement was protected.
  • Cox Broadcasting Company v. Cohn - (Note: We ended up not discussing this in class, but I'll post it anyways) Mr. Cohn sued the Cox Company for releasing the name of his seventeen year old daughter, who was a rape victim who did not survive the attack. He claimed that the release was an invasion of privacy. However, the court found that the released identity would not rise enough public interest for a case. 
  • United States v. New York Times - (Note: I mentioned this case in my blog yesterday, but I will summarize it here) After the leakage of the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times, President Nixon claimed that this was a violation of freedom of speech and that no more newspapers could publish the papers. However, the court found that the New York Times and other newspaper's freedom of speech WAS protected. Thus in turn, the publication of the papers continued to Nixon's chagrin. 
After class, I had lunch and then started working on homework in my dorm. During the afternoon session, Jeffrey passed back our quizzes from last week, and I'm happy to report I got a perfect score on it. This has definitely built a great momentum for my confidence and I am studying to do just as well on Thursday's quiz.

I definitely feel as if I'm getting a better grip on political science! My APUSH teacher would be proud
Not only do we have a quiz on Thursday, but we have a debate as well. We were split into groups of five to six. I'm in a group of five - my group is Jack, Joy, Miwako, Talia, and myself. We are assigned a case and are the defense. This is the prompt:

"The Johnsons, who live in Texas, recently found out that their eighteen year old daughter started making hard core pornographic films after she graduated from high school. They found out that Sweet Films was distributing the film nationwide to video stores and also on the internet. They convinced the District Attorney to charge Sweet Films with violation of Federal Code 18 USC & 1465 for transporting obscene material. Sweet Films feels that the statue is in violation of their First Amendment rights."

That sounds like a mouthful - it is. We split up into different jobs, and mine is writing the opening statement, which will last six minutes. I have no idea how I'm going to write a six minute long statement, yet alone write the statement. When I was a defense attorney is a mock-trial for my WWII class, I wrote the opening statement but it only lasted about one minute at the most. I'm going to research opening statements and do my best to not embarrass my team.

Jeffrey released us from class over an hour early so we could work in groups in the library. However, 3 out of the 5 members of my group are commuter and we felt it would be simpler to do individual work and create a Facebook and email group to keep up with one another. I feel that my group is strong enough to do this. I have faith in all of us!

After going back to my dorm and looking up how to write opening statements, I went to dinner and then with the rest of the group to the subway to meet Ms. L for the Boat Cruise! After taking the subway and then the bus, we went to Pier 66, where we enjoyed a wonderful Boat Cruise across the Hudson River. We saw a bit of Ground Zero, many skyscrapers including the Empire State Building, and even the Statue of Liberty! It was a great way to enjoy such a spectacular night.

Yummy nachos!
Momo and I
Morvarid with Manhattan in the back
First glimpse of the Statue of Liberty
Morvarid and the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
Yes I took pictures of myself on my phone with the Statue of Liberty in the back (I'm cool)
View of Manhattan!
Overlooking Manhattan
Brooklyn Bridge
Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, so we have no class. I'm going to Coney Island with the girls and Ms. L and then enjoying lovely fireworks in the evening. In between that time, I will be studying for the quiz, working on my debate, and finding more research for my paper! Topics are due on Thursday, and I'm considering changing mine from saying Affirmative Action is constitutional to my opinion that it is unconstitutional for presidents to exceed their powers during a National Emergency. It's all very exciting and I can't wait for the next steps.

Cause You're My Sunset

My morning did not start the way I intended it to. I awoke later than usual- around 9 AM- and missed breakfast due to my shower. So I headed to class with an empty stomach but was more awake than usual. Peculiar, I know. Today during class we discussed the similarities between Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in terms of Progressivism. TR’s political views were always toward progressivism, the “urban reaction to the excesses of unrestrained laissez-faire capitalism, rapid urbanization, and industrialization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” Woodrow Wilson began with a Jeffersonian ideology consisting of states’ rights and conservatism. But as his presidency dragged on, Wilson had to conform to the changing times and Progressivism went with the flow.

Once our discussion on TR and Wilson ended, a guest speaker, who is in law school, came to speak about court cases. On Thursday, after our 4th of July festivities, we will be debating sides for court cases. Our speaker conversed with us about the two court cases we read the night prior. The two cases were about contracts and how it can be deliberated in a district court and can be appealed in Supreme Court. Apparently I won’t make a very good lawyer; every time we guessed the verdict and reason, I was wrong. It’s okay, engineering is more of my thing anyway.

Before class ended, we picked lotteries to see who would be arguing different cases; Bertram v. Clinton and Sangria v. Beldings. Unfortunately for me, my lottery pick was not in the pile so I was last. It’s okay, Forensics will once again be my advantage! So after lunch, my group and I headed to a discussion room in Butler Library to prepare for the upcoming debate. We researched similar cases from the past that could help us. Sadly, all the rulings for the cases were against us, so we mainly focused on refutations today.

After planning with my group, class finally ended and I headed for my dorm to relax a little before tonight’s cruise. We ventured on the Circle Line Cruise which sails on the Hudson River, passing from Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge and back. The greatest aspect of the cruise was the timing of the ride; we rode during sunset and early night, seeing the night of NYC come to life. It was definitely a great way to spend two hours here in the city; the hustle and bustle can get to anyone, and the ride was a perfect way to unwind.

Sadly the cruise ended and we all headed back to temporary homes. Now onwards to tomorrow’s adventure; Coney Island and hot dog eating contest!