1L Experience: Election season


First things first. Contrary to the accusation made in the Parody, my column is not about the same thing every week. The Hark’s squash pizza is not the same as the Hark’s squash soup. Except perhaps on Fridays, when the pizza that’s been sitting there all week has gotten soft and they kind of have the same consistency. Second, everybody cool reads my column. To prove it — if you’re cool (or even just if you think you are), and you’re reading this, send me an e-mail at jblachma@law.harvard.edu and I’ll send you an extra bonus column even funnier than this one.

That, by the way, is my campaign speech for Second Assistant Vice President of the Cool Law Students Society. They’re just one of the many organizations that have recently sent me an e-mail encouraging me to come to their next meeting and vote for the new officers — and inviting me, along with the hundreds of other students who find themselves on the mailing lists of organizations they once signed up for but have no actual involvement in, to run for office myself. As I’ve been discovering, it’s election season.

I sat at a table at the activities fair during admitted students weekend and was surprised to realize that I knew many of the other people in the room. I don’t think I know an unusually large number of other students, but it seemed like I knew almost everyone sitting at a table for some organization from yet another organization that we both had in common. A friend of mine tried to explain the phenomenon: “There are only a limited number of ‘joiners’ here, and more organizations to go around than people to participate. So, really, every student organization consists of the same people, just with different titles.”

So the President of SALSA might be the Secretary of NALSA, and the Treasurer of BLSA. But the Vice President of APALSA may be the Publicity Director for CLSA and the Membership Chair of JLSA. And that’s not even considering the two height-related affinity groups at the law school, TALLSA and SMALLSA!

I’m still considering whether or not to run for a position in any of the organizations I’m in. It seems like we’ve finally passed the point where resume-building ought to be a consideration. I expect it’s very unlikely that underneath the bold “Harvard Law School” heading, the difference between getting rejected by an employer and getting a job will be whether or not someone was Recording Secretary for the Harvard Defenders. Meaning that the traditional intuition of trying to strive for the highest position realistically possible probably shouldn’t apply, and that not running for anything probably shouldn’t be seen as somehow “losing a race.” As one of my professors said last semester before the final exam, the race is over. We’ve all already won. Winning an election for Deputy Social Director of the Medieval Law Studies Association (MLSA) just doesn’t matter.

So we’re each faced with the harder question of what we actually want to do, as opposed to having to worry about what we ought to do. Which should be a good thing. It lets us look at the actual tasks involved in doing a given job — say, Managing Editor of the Hark Lunch Menus, who perhaps needs to come up with names for the entrees, arrange the sample plates and pick whether the pasta ought to cost $4.95, $5.25 or $6.42 — and decide whether or not they are things we feel like we’d enjoy doing and that we’d be good at. Kind of like the considerations we all took into account when we decided whether or not to subcite for a journal in the fall.

Right. Because everyone loves to subcite, and that’s why we all do it. Let’s face it: We’re not used to really thinking about whether we want to do something or not. We’re all overachievers; that’s how we got to law school. If the girl who sits across the aisle from you in Contracts class gets elected President of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and you’re just the Chairman of the Neutering Committee, you feel like you’ve lost. Even if you don’t really want the responsibility of manning the animal phone lines and having to listen to clients barking orders at you all day. It’s human nature. It’s hard to let what look like possible opportunities go by, even if intellectually we know it won’t make a difference.

So, in conclusion, I ask you to come out to next week’s meeting of the Unspecific Law Students Association (ULSA) and vote for me for Associate Coordinator. And if you’d like to run for Lieutenant Representative, there really is still time to submit your candidate statement.

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