Thursday, July 14, 2011

Home and a Musical

Okay, I've changed my mind. I want to go home.

I love it here. I love this city, and this class. But I'm getting addicted. Today, I went outside in 70 degree weather and shivered. Shivered! As if I was cold! I've stopped using the air conditioning in my dorm. If I was here too much longer I might actually start to like the heat.

And I miss home. Everything is so damned green here. And wet. Even in this hot summer, the parks are all emerald and lush, covered in stately trees and moss. I miss rolling hills flaming in the sun. I miss gnarled oaks providing shade for yellowed grasses. I miss breathing in and not drinking at the same time. I miss the sprawling lawns in Berkeley that just invite you to lie down and have a nap. I miss California.

Its funny, how differently people react to things. I know when we got here, I wasn't homesick at all. The thought that, eventually, I would have to go home wasn't much more than a hypothetical situation. I was so busy with the now that I forgot, just plain forgot what it was like. Others in the ILC group were homesick, I'm sure, and some of my suite-mates definitely felt the same way. But for me, now that actually being back in California is only about 48 hours away, I realize I want to head home.

I even miss my dog.

I'm sure everyone else's blog tonight talked about the college fair we had on campus today, which was quite the experience: I stopped by at some booths, wandered about for a bit, wrote down my name for any and all schools I'm thinking of applying for, and got some nice practice pushing through crowds. That certainly helped tonight!

After class today I just lounged about with friends here (one of our suite-mates had left earlier in the morning, so we were all feeling a little incomplete) before heading off with Beilul and my RA to see “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” which is a mighty funny musical. While it wasn't as good as Billy Elliot, the show was really great, with a gorgeous set, funny writing, a good plot, and brilliant casting. For those who didn't know already, this is the Broadway show that Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe stars in, and he was really quite good. Not at all Potter-esque, and he certainly wasn't trying to coast on his fame, which is what I had been afraid of before going to see the show. Sidenote: Radcliffe is actually a terrific dancer. After the show finished, everyone rushed outside to wait by the stage door for Radcliffe to come out: while everyone else wanted to be right by the railing, I opted for a scenic spot across the street, giving up my prime real estate four feet away from the guy for less pushing and fewer girls screeching right in my ear. Even though there was a car in the way, I did get a few brief glimpses of Radcliffe, although I was plenty happy just seeing him on stage.

I must be brief tonight because I'm in the middle of my research for tomorrow's (erm, today's) debate. Again my side is incredibly hard to argue: I'm on the side of the United States government in a Guantanamo case. Right. Because that's a totally logical avenue for an absolutist stance. Anyways, I must get back to that if I want to get any sleep today... Good night!


Our guest speaker today was amazing. Simply amazing. Chris Riano isn't your average lawyer. He even said so himself. He was so young that I felt he could relate to us. He was one of the success stories you hear about... when you take years off from school then you finally realize what you want in life. He's opening his own Higher Education Law Firm and works as a clerk currently.

What I loved the most was his interest in what we were working on and our futures. He asked each of us to explain our papers in detail and asked us questions about them that we hadn't thought of ourselves. At least once, I felt like I had to really think about my paper and ask... can this be applied today as he was suggesting? 

He also cared a lot about what we were doing in the future. He came prepared with details about each of us that the professor had told him. He knew I was from California and was interested into aeronautical engineering. Chris had also wanted to become an engineer but told us that after his robot he was building failed to work and math was no longer real, he decided it wasn't for him. 

What was unique about this speaker was how he talked about a lot of colleges to us and kind of drew out from us what we really wanted and made us second guess ourselves. Just because we were here for 3 weeks didn't mean we would enjoy living here for 4 years. And the same goes for staying close to home. We have lived there for most of our lives and have become comfortable so of course we might want to stay near home, but will we actually enjoy it? 

Ultimately, it doesn't come down to a big named college, or a super competitive college. It's finding the college that suits YOU. Not your mom or your dad or your teachers. It's up to YOU! Dr. Z. told us never to make the decision for the college, to apply, hope for the best, not to let money be a decision maker, and let the college itself decide. Don't let yourself decide whether you will get in or not.

I discussed with my teacher my disease I caught yesterday called "writer's block". I needed to get well soon and asked for her advice on how I should finish my paper. She told me that 20 pages was a goal, not a requirement. If I came a little short that was fine; as long as I felt comfortable putting my name on it and turning it in as my final draft. I can say I've never been so comfortable on this trip than I did then. My professor had a one on one discussion with me comforting me and even laughing about how worried I was! She told me ultimately, it's quality and not quantity.

I spent the rest of my evening buying final souvenirs and packing some of my things. If I were to wait til the last minute to pack, it would be a wreck. I decided to pack some of the stuff I wouldn't be using for the remainder of my trip. It's truly amazing how fast these three week have gone by. At the beginning there I was, little me homesick and nervous to be in such a different place. I can definitely see how I've grown these past three weeks, not physically but emotionally and mentally. I am more than positive that no matter where I go I will be fine. Sure, I'll be homesick and lonely. Most people go through that. But it's about getting through it and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

Final Debate

So, for our final debate, my group has a pretty difficult task at hand. Our mock case, Baker v. University of New York, deals with two students: Baker and his Mexican neighbor, Lopez. Both applied to the UNY and only his Mexican neighbor got in, even though both were just as qualified. In order to determine who is admitted to the school, UNY used a point system where 150 points is the maximum. The 150 points are divided into 70 points for academics, 60 points for testing, and 20 points for "other" which includes leadership, legacy, talents, socio-economic background, and race. In the academic and test categories, both students had the exact same score. The difference between the two is in the "other" category. Baker received points for leadership and legacy while his neighbor received fewer points for legacy, points for soccer, and points for being Mexican. It was the points for being Mexican that gave Baker's neighbor a one point advantage. In the end, Baker wasn't admitted and his neighbor was. Baker argues that the school violated the equal protection act of the 14th Amendment...and my team is defending the university.

Given that the only difference between the two is that Lopez received points for his race and was accepted I find my team caught in a corner because basically every case dealing with affirmative action has gone against us. So, instead to give our argument credit, we're going to quote from the dissenting opinions of affirmative action cases. In addition, we plan to interpret the equal protection act of the 14th Amendment as a strict textualist.

Our argument stems from the 14th Amendment which states "...No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws..." The equal protection clause clearly applies to only law—not the application process of a university. Because there is no law stating that the University of New York must use affirmative action, then the equal protection act cannot be applied.

We also argue that even if the equal protection clause applied then it has been ruled in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke that affirmative action can be applied in a narrow sense. According to Justice Powell, the "use of race was permissible as one of several admission criteria." He goes on to say that the only situation where affirmative action is uncalled for is when there is a strict quota that the institution must fulfill. Because the UNY doesn't have a quota and reviews the applications holistically, then affirmative action is justified.

This argument is upheld in Grutter v. Bollinger where Justice O'Conner states "narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body." and "in the context of its individualized inquiry into the possible diversity contributions of all applicants, the Law School's race- conscious admissions program does not unduly harm nonminority applicants."

Hopefully, with this evidence, my team can emerge victorious and end the class on a high note!