September 25, 2007

An Open Letter from BLSA: Ambands

Submitted by Jamie Flaherty, BLSA President

On Thursday, September 20, 2007 some members of the Black Law Students Alliance wore black as part of the national Unity Day to stand in unison for the Jena 6.

In the fall of 2006, black students at Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana asked the principal if they could sit under “the white tree,” which had been traditionally used by white students. The principal granted them permission. The next day, three nooses were found in the tree. The three white students determined by the school to be responsible for the act were originally ordered to be expelled. However, the local Board of Education overruled the Superintendent of Schools. The students received a three-day suspension instead.

As a result, black students staged a sit-in under the tree. However, it was later dispersed by the police. On Dec. 1, at a party, a black student was beaten by a white student with a beer bottle. Days after, a white student bragged about the beating. Six black males beat up the student without any weapons and were charged with attempted murder. They now face twenty-two years in prison. (According to the New York Times, the charges of attempted murder have since been scaled back to aggravated battery and conspiracy, the former of which one defendant, Mychal Bell, was convicted on June 28. Late last week, the Times reported, an appeals court found Bell was improperly tried in adult court on the battery charge and overturned the conviction.)

On September 20, 2007 civil rights leaders from around the country descended upon Louisiana for a “Unity Day” to protest what many see as the disparate treatment given the black and white students. Participants chose to wear black in a show of unity with the teens.

While the Black Law Students Alliance of the University of Michigan Law School is composed of members of varying political persuasions, cultural, and life backgrounds, BLSA universally agrees with the idea of protecting constitutional rights equally for all persons. To that extent, BLSA members wore black to signify that they too support the constitutional rights of the Jena Six.

For More Information on the Jena Six, see the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/us/19jena.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin or Newsweek: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20218937/site/newsweek/.

Signed,

The Executive Board of the Black Law Students Alliance at Michigan

April 03, 2007

Federalist Symposium to Be Held at Law School

Open Letter

To the Law School Community:

On behalf of the University of Michigan Law School Federalist Society, I would like to thank everyone who has participated in and supported our events throughout another great year. Although our Law School has a “liberal” reputation, the Law School community has always been extremely supportive of the Federalist Society’s efforts to further intellectual debate. Our events draw students from all perspectives. In fact, they often excite vigorous discussion among our own members, who range from all varieties of conservatives to libertarians, even card-carrying ACLU members!

It gives me great pleasure to announce that our own chapter’s vitality and the dedication of the Law School community have made it possible to host the 2008 National Federalist Society Student Symposium at Michigan Law School. This Symposium, entitled “The People and the Courts,” will occur on March 7 and 8,, 2008, and will focus on the interaction between society, the judiciary, and the democratic process. This symposium will bring together law students from around the country to engage with judges and legal scholars from top law schools. Michigan Law students consistently make valuable contributions to our discussions and events and we hope that our fellow students—Federalist or not—will also take advantage of the opportunity to engage in this discourse. Dedication to intellectual diversity is one of our law school’s greatest assets and we are thrilled to host this valuable contribution towards that goal.

Mike Ruttinger
Federalist Symposium Director

March 20, 2007

Build Green for a Better Law School

An Open Letter

Dear Members of the Law School Building Committee;

We write on behalf of the Pro Bono Committee of the Environmental Law Society, a group of Michigan law students interested in issues of environmental law and sustainability, and eager to apply our time and skills to contributing to such efforts wherever we can. We were excited to learn that the Law School’s plans for new construction have taken a new direction, and would like, in the early stages of the concept and design process, to raise the issue of green building and sustainable design.

Sustainable building is rapidly gaining momentum in the architectural and construction communities. And for good reason; building green is cost effective, attractive, and speaks volumes about an institution’s commitment to the world outside its walls, from our immediate surrounds in Ann Arbor, already considered one of the most progressive cities in America, to the State of Michigan, whose current economic woes fostered a new energy plan this year, which calls for utilities to provide 10 percent of the state’s energy needs to be supplied from renewable energy resources by 2015, to the corners of the nation this law school seeks to serve.

As you take your seats on one of the most important committees in the Law School, you face a great challenge: How to effectively use a limited amount of space to create an environment that is both respectful and complimentary to the inspiring architecture that has won this Law School such renown, while at the same time ushering in something new and vibrant that is also, ultimately, an enjoyable place to live, work, and study. Green building is both progressive, in that it incorporates new technologies like low-energy LED lighting, and solar power generation, and traditional, utilizing natural materials, recycling of construction waste, and daylighting and ventilation schemes that utilize ambient heat, light, and air, to create a comfortable interior environment that is at harmony with the natural one. The effect, in essence, has the potential to successfully create indoor work/study space that feels like being in the Quad on a warm autumn day – and nobody who’s been there could argue that an indoor environment like that would increase productivity down the line, from devoted dean to overworked 1L.

In short, green building
• Saves money. 98% of a building’s costs are in its operation – good upfront design can dramatically reduce these costs.
• Is a great way to set the Law School apart. The School of Natural Resources and Environment recently “greened” the Dana Building, a 1903 academic building that now serves as SNRE’s central laboratory and educational center, winning “gold” Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the United States Green Building Council in the process, and making headlines throughout the building and academic worlds.
• Offers innumerable public relations benefits. A green building will showcase what the Law School stands for and serve as an important recruiting tool for faculty, students, and potential donors.

Notably, several of our peer institutions have already caught on to what will likely be the future of new construction in America.

• Boalt Hall, in its Request For Proposals (RFP) for new building plans, detailed that plans must meet the UC requirements for green building, which include LEED certification of all new buildings.
• The Ross School of Business, after significant student and faculty input, has made significant design changes for its new buildings so that it can meet the requirements for LEED certification.
• Duke University has made sustainability one of the key ways it differentiates itself from its competitors; every new campus building must meet sustainable design guidelines, with the stated goal of achieving LEED certification for all new structures.

And, of course, green building is great for the environment. Buildings are the number-one consumer of energy in the United States – and that energy is the number-one source of greenhouse gas emissions. With climate change looming, and given the social and political climate of Ann Arbor, it would seem almost regressive to build a brand new structure using conventional technologies and materials – like littering, or smoking indoors, it was only understandable before we knew better. Consequently, we believe strongly that as plans for “completing the Quad” move forward, the building committee, and indeed the Law School, should focus on sustainability as a key design benchmark, perhaps using LEED standards as a starting point, as Dana, Boalt, and Duke have done.

At the 1925 dedication of the Law Quad, then-Dean of the Law School Henry M. Bates opined that law is “a plan of life, reaching down into every phase of human existence.” The new addition to the Law School’s landscape should similarly integrate the modern and traditional humanistic foundations of Michigan Law School, making them part of the built environment as well as the academic and professional one.

Sincerely,

Lara Dumond
Stephen Oertle
Liz Polizzi
Mark Shahinian