BY ZACHARY PRICE
Last Thursday HLS students had the opportunity to participate in an important spring-semester ritual: the selection of new HLS Law Student Council representatives. Over 550 of Harvard’s 1651 JD candidates – roughly 34 percent – participated in the election, which selected the LSC leadership for next year, as well as the Marshals for the Class of 2002.
The student council winners were Mike French ’02 for president, Sarah Brackney ’02 for vice-president, Tony Chan ’03 for treasurer and Lowell Plotkin ’03 for student advocate. The 2002 Class Marshals will be T.J. Duane ’02, Taryn Fielder ’02, Mike Ginsberg ’02 and Aaron Thomas ’02.
Winners told the RECORD they feel honored and excited to have been chosen by their peers for their new responsibilities. “I am very excited about this opportunity and feel extremely flattered to have been elected by my classmates to serve in this position,” said Fielder, one of the 2002 Class Marshals.
Student Advocate Plotkin echoed Fielder’s sentiments. “I really enjoyed the election and campaign process,” Plotkin said. “I also think I ran against a wonderful candidate in Gary Slossberg. No matter who won, the HLS Student Advocate was going to be working hard to get things done.”
French, who served as Student Advocate during the 2000-2001 term and ran unopposed for President, said he was impressed with quality of the candidates. “The candidates for vice-president and student advocate are all very active LSC reps and I know anyone of them would have been excellent for the position. The Treasurer’s race also featured an active LSC rep in Greg [Parets ’03] and a member of the Student Funding Board this year in Tony [Chan],” French said.
French added that he did not consider his unopposed election a “negative” for the LSC. “I think it follows the trend established in last year’s election of having someone who is very familiar with the LSC take the President position,” he told the RECORD.
“I hope to continue the relationship with students that I have had as Student Advocate,” French said. “This past year I would receive student comments and complaints almost daily. This input helped steer me toward those areas that needed the most attention … I hope to continue to receive input directly from students on any area of concern.”
French stressed that student input will be especially important in the coming year as the Law School implements fundamental changes, such as the adoption of 1L colleges. “My number one priority is ensuring student input in the implementation of the Strategic Plan,” French told the RECORD. He said the LSC plans to organize frequent focus groups and meetings during the coming year.
French said he also plans to work towards the completion of a “number of issues that the LSC has been working on,” including “the finalization of online registration, addressing the Open Mail problems, ensuring professor feedback within the colleges, establishing the pro bono requirement, and perhaps changing the 3L paper requirement.”
Echoing French, Plotkin described responding to student concerns as a “chief goal.” Plotkin mentioned Hemenway improvements and the creation of a fully online registration system and an “online Sound-Off Board” as top priorities. “I want a close relationship to my constituents,” Plotkin said. “My job is to work for them and get things done. As much as I have an agenda and goals, the most important aspect of my job is ensuring that students are happy or at least that student life is improving.”
The newly elected Class Marshals told the RECORD they look forward to working with their classmates to ensure the coming year provides a satisfying conclusion to student experiences at HLS.
“3L year will be the last time I and a lot of my classmates will be full-time students,” Mike Ginsberg, one of the four Class Marhsals, told the RECORD, “so I want to make the most of it. I’d really like to think of lots of fun and interesting events for the class, maybe things that haven’t been done before. Also, I really want to get lots of input from 3Ls so that we’re planning events that the class really would like to do.”
Taryn Fielder mentioned similar goals. “I want to ensure that the class marshals provide a forum for the Class of ’02 to create a fun 3L experience; to work with the other 3L Class Marshals planning fun social events for our class; and to create an atmosphere in which in the Class of ’02 feels free to express ideas for social events, creative planning, and social bonding.”
“I hope that everyone in the Class of ’02 (the best class EVER at HLS!) will email me and the other Class Marshals to let us know what they want their 3L year to be all about!” Fielder added.
T.J. Duane said he also looks forward to organizing graduation events and alumni reunions, as well as social events over the coming year. “Graduation is huge, and I want to use my organizational skills to work with the marshals on really making graduation an amazing event not just for students, but for their families also (and no, this doesn’t mean free open bar and appetizers afterwards for everyone at Pravda!). I have some ideas up my sleeve,” Duane said. “Additionally, I feel like there is an unbelievable sense of community within this class and I plan to ensure that it continues for decades after we graduate. I plan to constantly work to maintain strong class bonds throughout the rest of our lives and I do plan on doing cultural, social, and academic reunion events on a regular basis after graduation.”
When asked about the relationship between his new responsibilities and his work at HL Central, Duane said he plans to shift the focus of his energy to his role as a Class Marshal.
“As of April 1, HL Central will have an entirely new board of rising 2Ls who will be running the organization in its entirety. I am very confident and excited about this new group of leaders for the organization,” Duane said. “My role will be limited to at most an advisory capacity – providing answers to the board when they have questions, etc. I am limiting the amount of involvement I will have with pretty much all the organizations I am involved in so as to put a 100% of my effort into the Marshal position.”
Duane added that he feels “honored” by the election results, which he interprets as a show of support and gratitude for the efforts he has made through HL Central.
“There have been times over the last two years when I have felt sort of down and out – but then someone in the class would say, ‘thanks for doing this, I appreciate it,’ after some event or something and that would make it all worth it,” Duane said. “Having the collective class elect me marshal and give me the opportunity to address them for the last time on graduation (not through an email) was sort of like one collective ‘thank you, we appreciate it,’ and it makes me realize it was all worth it because apparently it made at least some of them a little bit happier.”