Hannah Dawson, Daniel Egel-Weiss, and Radhe Patel: Candidates for 2L Representative

Interview with Hannah Dawson

Record: Why are you running for 2L Rep?

Hannah Dawson: I think the main reason I want to run for 2L rep is because I think there’s a trend in Student Government of doing amazing things, and I want to get involved and see how I can make Harvard Law School an even better place for students.

R: What kinds of things would you want to accomplish next year if you are a part of student government?

HD: Giving students more ability to choose courses and more flexibility and more information to make choices for courses. One thing that’s pretty related to making that happen is the reform of the course evaluations that continue to make some of the information a bit less transparent for students. That’s something that I would definitely like to work with the administration on, along with giving students more flexibility for clinics – the way that the program is currently structured to require so many classroom hours is something that student government is currently working on and that I’d like to continue to work on as well. Finally, for 1L students, sometimes the courses that they are able to enroll in as their elective is very tightly tied to what section they happen to fall in and who their professors tend to be. I want to keep making sure there’s flexibility there as well.

R: Is there anything that you would like to change about Harvard Law that you would say is beyond your control?

HD: I think that there are things about the student body and the professors at Harvard Law that can make diversity and inclusion a real challenge, in particular diversity of the faculty representation and diversity of perspectives and ideas. The nature of an institution like Harvard is that turnover is very slow. It’s an academic institutions where it’s hard to make an impact as quickly as we would probably like to see as students. So that’s something that I know that the student government is really pushing for and working on, but it’s certainly not something we are going to be able to change overnight, and I think that it has a huge impact on student experience.

R: What other commitments do you have on campus that are important to you?

HD: I’m involved with the Harvard Mediation Program and a member of the Harvard Law School Canadian Students Organization.

R: Anything else?

HD: An important part of what I would want to do is to focus on student wellness. It’s obviously something that all students are concerned about to a certain extent, but I would like to be involved in the subcommittee on student health and wellness. I think that if you look at the specifics on people farther into their careers, it continues to be really important, and so focusing on student wellness while in law school, but also developing the tools that you need to take care of yourself are really important.

R: Speaking of that, the mental health survey results just came out and it turns out that upwards of 60% of HLS students say they are lonely. Where do you think that comes from?

HD: There’s a certain natural competition for all kinds of different things that can create a desire to present oneself as having everything together, and when you’re not feeling like you can be comfortable and honest and vulnerable, that does make you feel lonely. I think an awesome initiative that SG has put on to counteract that is the HLS Talks sessions where students talk about themselves not in a career focused way, but in a very human way. I think the more of that there is, the more it feels like you have a real support network and community, not just a career network.

R: Do you think there should be more dogs, fewer dogs, or about the same number of dogs on campus?

HD: I think that we are at optimal dog density right now. There are people who love dogs, who hate dogs… I like dogs, I think the focus on dogs is good, but focus on other things is good as well.

Interview with Daniel Egel-Weiss

Record: Why are you running for 2L Rep?

Daniel Egel-Weiss: I had the good fortune of being a 1L section rep this year, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to get to learn about the law school, but more importantly, get to help my sectionmates and make it easier for them to get through their 1L year, so I figured the way that I could continue to help them and hopefully to contribute my talents to the school is to run again for 2L Rep.

R: What’s hard about navigating 1L?

DEW: I think everyone is new, and the people who are giving you advice in part are perhaps not new to the institution, but are new to your section or are new to your particular group, and so finding a way to navigate it so that everyone finds what they are good at, and what they want to become passionate about in law school is critically important, so to have someone who is a fellow student try and bridge the gap between the very steady administration here and the newcomers is what I think can sometimes be a little challenging on top of the academic work.

R: Do you have any comment on gaps in knowledge between people who come here knowing nothing about law school and people who come here knowing a lot?

DEW: I came here knowing nothing about law school. In fact, I’m still learning a lot, and I think that speaks to a few things but more than anything, there is a bit of a gap between what the administration knows about 1L year and the information that is provided about 1L year, and the best way to close that gap is to seek out 2Ls and 3Ls to give us their insight, but additionally, there should be other resources for students to turn to, and I think those resources exist, but I don’t know if all the students know where those resources are.

R: What do you hope to accomplish next year as part of student government?

DEW: I think there are three things student government does, and those are to provide opportunities for students to grow and foster their passions, to create a community where people can become engaged and do good in the world, and to lead and navigate tough times as we face them, but also to encourage our fellow students to problem-solve and get through the struggles that we collectively face.

R: Are there any other commitments on campus that are important to you?

DEW: I am currently the Congress Editor on the Journal on Legislation. I think that is an amazing organization. It is, as far as I can tell, the only bipartisan journal, and regardless of my political leanings, it’s a very interesting place to be within the greater Harvard community because you do see opinions on all sides of the issue, so I will continue to work on that journal.

R: Is there anything you wish you could change about Harvard that you would say is beyond your control?

DEW: I refuse to believe that anything is beyond my control. As I gain more institutional knowledge, and as we all gain institutional knowledge, our class can steer Harvard in the right direction. I would always love to see more diversity on campus, I’d love to see more economic and cultural diversity and any other kind of experiential diversity that you can probably think of, and I do think that Harvard is moving in the right direction, but it is a very slow institution. Things change very slowly, but I refuse to believe that we won’t be able to push it in the right direction.

R: Do you think there should be more dogs on campus, fewer dogs, or about the same number of dogs?

DEW: There should be more dogs, but I personally am a cat lover. I’m a big cat person. I think that we should have more animals in general. I’m also a big animal rights advocate. I love them, so the more the merrier, but if we’re gonna include dogs, we gotta have more cats.

Interview with Radhe Patel

Record: Why are you running for 2L Rep?

Radhe Patel: This year, I had the opportunity to be the 1L Rep for Section 2, and it was really rewarding to be able to kind of help all of my classmates. We had issues that ran the whole gamut from different accommodations that students might need that they don’t have the first idea of how to apply for because they didn’t actually teach us anything in orientation to more systemic stuff, like why are there no classes in the curriculum for certain public interest categories but so many different sections of corporations and other things that there needs to be a broader conversation on. I spent a lot of time just diving into learning the different avenues to get each of those, which is something I want to keep doing for the 2L class, and this time serve more than just my section.

R: How do you think we can improve orientation?

RP: There was this really big discussion around mental health. It’s important that they are being forthright that it’s an issue attorneys struggle with, but there are no services to back up any of these things they are telling us to do, like, ‘go to HUHS,’ or ‘use urgent care.’ More than a handful of people that I know of, just in my section, had to wait more than a month to get their intake appointment. That’s insane. If you are dealing with something and the semester is 3 months long, and it’s an adjustment problem, it blows my mind that, just to get your foot in the door, you have to wait a month and then after that you might have to wait even longer just to see somebody, and so I think one thing that they could do better at orientation is to be realistic about the resources that are available, encourage us to start reaching out to providers sooner, or reaching out to providers that are in the Cambridge area that maybe haven’t filled up yet, so that folks have that support system going in and they know to be ready for it.

I think the other thing is, we had maybe one session on what outlining means and how to outline in order to find resources on it. I’m the first person in my family to go to law school, so maybe this is coming from that perspective, but a lot of kids aren’t socialized into knowing what the law school time cycle looks like their first year, and everyone magically knows around when you are supposed to start outlining, knows what the good resources are, what the bad resources are, and right off the bat, you are putting marginalized kids who have probably exceeded every odd to be here at a greater academic disadvantage. WLA has done a really good job at diving into the data at how, even as broadly as a gender perspective, there’s a huge disparity in things like Latin Honors. That should indicate to us that something is wrong, and I think orientation is the place where we can start leveling that playing field.

R: Could you tell me a little bit more about this information asymmetry?

RP: I think, for the first year, most students typically do public interest stuff, and there’s some things that just unspokenly have to be submitted by December 1st. I got lucky because I was in SG and I just kind of knew to talk to folks at OPIA and had access to the pro bono committee that does this kind of stuff, so I was pretty on top of it, but I had peers I was talking to for whom by the time they got around to thinking about this and focusing on it, they were out of any acceptable window where it would have been possible for them to even apply to DOJ or the SEC and they had no way of knowing that. That just seems like you are creating this pipeline where the kids know they are going to get the great jobs the first year, and so the kids who are really dedicated to public interest are already a step behind their second year, and that seems so frustrating.

R: What distinguishes you as a candidate?

RP: Daniel is a great person; I really enjoyed working with him this year. I think the difference, probably, is just a matter of focus. Daniel’s done a lot, for example, on the pan-graduate council to focus on our relationship with other schools and he seems to have a vision for where HLS is supposed to be situated in the greater Harvard community. He was very vocal in the presidential search. For me, I really want to, as a 2L rep, not look outward, but look inward and see how we can make this experience better for my class as we go through 2L and 3L and prepare for the real world, but also make sure that everybody here feels supported and like they have access to the resources they need to succeed. I want to focus on clarifying internal vehicles. I think a lot of people don’t even know the things that SG does or can help you with.

R: Do you have any concrete plans for the next year?

RP: Mental health is probably one of my biggest focuses; it’s on everyone’s mind. The biggest thing we want to focus on is more full time staff at HUHS, and more earlier touchpoints. It’s insane to me that every 1L isn’t checked in with by somebody. When I was an undergrad, I was an RA and every single RA on campus had to talk to every kid on their floor, which meant that effectively everyone on campus was touched at one point, because you had a 20-minute one-on-one conversation with a peer that was a couple years older than you. BSAs have 10 people each, I don’t see why we can’t set up similar touchpoints and check-ins to make sure that people know that they can talk to folks.

My second big thing would be connecting student orgs to the broader work that this institute does. There are definitely places those conversations are happening – our leadership, for example, meets with the Dean of Students and other folks regularly, but one thing I had the chance to work on this year was, during the Bicentennial, making sure that the great work our student organizations were doing had a way to be highlighted in the talks that might feel relevant to those groups, allowing more intimate meetings between alumni of a particular group and a particular speaker. I’d like to work with our director of student orgs next year to make sure that there’s more of that kind of integration.

R: What other commitments do you have on campus that are important to you?

RP: I’m on the ACS board as 1L rep. I love ACS, big fan of what they do. I think it’s particularly important in this cultural moment. I’m involved in SALSA. Before coming to law school, I did a lot of South Asian work. The South Asian community is important to me, so that’s been a nice way to stay connected to that. I’m also on PLAP.

R: Do you think there should be more dogs on campus, fewer dogs, or about the same number of dogs?

RP: Always more dogs! At my undergrad, there were a lot of babies around all the time, and babies have the same effect as dogs to me, because they are little pure humans that are so happy. So more babies, more dogs, I don’t know how we’ll get the babies one done, I’m sure its a function of geography, we are a little further from the square. More dogs, more babies 2018 for sure.

Kate Thoreson is a 2L. She is the editor-in-chief of The Harvard Law Record.

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