The F-Word (and The H-Word)


TWO OF MY PROFESSORS USED the F-word in class this week. That’s right, “finals.” Seems like the semester’s just started, and already it’s time to worry about actually opening the casebooks and doing some reading. As a 2L, finals are a little scary because last fall as 1Ls we got about a month to study, and this time we get about three and a half hours from the last moment of class until our first exam. So the week I spent making an outline for criminal law that would eventually prove relatively useless is now condensed into about forty-five minutes of scrolling through my constitutional law class notes and deleting the limericks I wrote during lecture:

There once was a case named BrownThat made schools integrate all ‘cross townThink “equal protection”Think “Plessy’s rejection”Think I’d better write this one down.

Heck, maybe I should keep the limericks and delete all the rest of my notes.

What’s been interesting about classes this year is that I’ve heard lots of people talk about how they’ve been assigned the same cases for multiple courses. Topics like the dormant commerce clause (please don’t ask me what that is), or its arch-enemy the actively-erupting lava-spouting commerce clause, or “how to fake your way through being on panel without having done the reading” have come up over and over again. Little-known secret when choosing classes: the readings for Feminist Perspectives on Feminism are exactly the same as the readings for Old White Guys 101. Still, signing up for two classes and only having to read for one of them is still more work than signing up for four classes and reading for none of them. Or signing up for no classes and writing a bunch of limericks and calling it a third-year paper.

There’s speech that’s protected and freeI don’t know which speech that might beBut for sure, I supposeThere’s an outline that knowsIt’s an outline that I’d like to see

I can also write haiku. And speaking of things that begin with “H” (is this a great transition, or what?), how about the Hark renovation we’ve been getting e-mails about? I think they ought to give us a survey to get feedback regarding what we want from a new student center (besides new students).

A survey like this:

1. I visit the Hark:

(a) every day, so that I am able to, in comparison, more fully appreciate the lighting and layout of my 118-square-foot apartment or dorm room when I go home.

(b) only when there’s a special event, like a student organization deciding that the Hark is the best place for them to hold a party, or the weekly “Turkey Monday” lunches that both foreshadow and recall happy Thanksgivings past and future.

(c) when I’m desperate to go the bathroom, but don’t want to use a clean one.

(d) to check my mail once a semester and throw out the fourteen advertisements for class rings, seven flyers regarding the “early-bird discounts” on ordering a yearbook, five firm recruiting brochures, three pieces of melted candy a journal threw in my box to thank me for checking footnotes for an hour last October and an empty envelope that used to contain a callback invite from Cravath but someone stole it.

2. My favorite part of the Hark is:

(a) the pool table with 12 balls.

(b) the handicapped doors.

(c) Bill, the guy who stuffs the mailboxes with class ring advertisements four times a week.

(d) the smell.

3. My least favorite part of the Hark is:

(a) its colorful brown color scheme.

(b) the message board featuring one hundred and forty-three flyers in an 8×11 inch space, all stapled one on top of the other.

(c) the permanent stack of Harvard Magazine from three years ago.

(d) the “summer job evaluations” collections box that doesn’t know the summer was a long time ago.

4. When I meet friends in the Hark, we:

(a) leave as soon as possible.

(b) choice (a).

5. If I was going to build a new student center, I’d make sure it had:

(a) a food vendor that wasn’t managed by an institutional bureaucracy.

(b) walls that weren’t brown.

(c) space for flyers, newspapers, and advertisements to all coexist peacefully and in user-friendly ways.

(d) a bulletin board summarizing all of the upcoming law school events.

(e) meeting rooms.

(f) free cookies.

(g) lots of free cookies.

Correction to last week’s column: I didn’t mean to make fun of reference librarians. I meant to make fun of the “Tech RA on duty” signs that never have Tech RAs sitting by them, and even if they did, who knows what a Tech RA is anyway. “I’m locked out of my computer. Do you have a key?”

Jeremy Blachman’s column appears weekly. He also posts commentary regularly at

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