Proud NCCU law alumna
Regarding “The heat’s on NCCU about its law-school admission standards” (Jan. 18):
As an alumna of the NCCU School of Law, I take pride in my alma mater’s mantle of “Least Selective Law School.” The ABA might be most concerned with student grades, but NCCU is and always has been most concerned with educating students who will be a credit to the legal profession. It has been highly successful at doing so.
While I was there (many years ago), I knew quite a few students who left due to family circumstances, financial circumstances, and other issues that had nothing to do with their capacity to be excellent attorneys. Most Duke and UNC students come straight out of college, have no family to support or other distractions, and many are in a financial position to be able to afford to attend schools with high price tags. NCCU on the other hand, serves students from profoundly varied backgrounds, with often much higher challenges in their life circumstances. Any lawyer will tell you that work is incompatible with the demands of law-school study, but you would have a hard time finding an NCCU student who doesn’t have to work while attending school. Many have children to support because they didn’t come to law school at age 22 right out of college.
NCCU has consistently maintained its low annual tuition rates to make it possible for anyone with capacity to attend. Faculty have turned down raises in favor of keeping tuition low. And NCCU law faculty are the most available and supportive of any law school in the state (arguably of any in the country). But low tuition translates to low resources for the school. And without wealthy alumni in the numbers many law schools have, those resources aren’t made up in other ways.
Accreditation is critical, and bar passage is a reasonable litmus test for a law school. But the way to better bar passage isn’t by limiting access only to students who come in already having the resources and skills to get good grades. I hope that NCCU will not take the ABA’s invitation to hegemony, but will request the resources needed to provide the varied kinds of support that its diverse and outstanding students require to be successful, and that the university and legislature will be responsive.
Al Czervik is our president
It hit me out of the blue this morning: Al Czervik is running our country.
Who is Al Czervik? He’s the Rodney Dangerfield character from the movie “Caddyshack.” A flamboyant, coarse, loud-mouth boor, Czervik was an outsider rubbing shoulders with the old-money rich white men at the exclusive country club of which was not a member. He was a self-professed womanizer who purposely disrupted the peace both on and off the golf course.
His antics, like having a kegerator in his golf bag from which impromptu parties would pop up, appealed to the lower-class service workers like the caddies at the club whom he would woo and court to be his pals. He would take from these inferiors what he needed for his own gain, be for a raucous party at which he was the center of attention or for a dramatic putt to win a bet. Rather than kowtow to the members, he simply threatened to use his nouveau riche wealth to buy the club.
In a fit of pique with a key member of the club, he proposes a wager: a golf match with a high stakes bet to determine once and for all who is the “better” man. It looks like Czervik is going to lose, but at the last minute, Bill Murry’s groundskeeper character detonates an explosion that hands Czervik the win. As the movie closes, the exuberant Czervik shouts, “Hey everybody! We’re all gonna get laid!”
The parallels to Trump’s election are profound to me. Except unlike Czervik in the movie, Trump ultimately buys his way into the club and becomes the chairman of its board. His disruptive style causes chaos in the leadership, and he does everything he can to keep out the lower classes to which he previously pandered in order to get in. He tells the help what they want to hear with no intention or ability to keep his promises. His board consists not of leaders with the knowledge or experience needed for their roles, but rather of other members of his elite, xenophobic tribe from whom he can extract loyalty or to whom he owes favors. Only Norwegians – white elite – may be considered for membership and people of color – from “s---hole countries” – should be kept out at all cost with a big wall around the grounds. Women are playthings, and everyone else is irrelevant.
And so it is that on Nov. 8, 2016, the United States went from being the Land of Opportunity (including for those from s---hole countries) to the caricature of an elite men’s dining and golf club led by Al Czervik.
Look at ourselves
Wait a minute now, let’s take a good look at ourselves. We’re living in a country whose governments carried out a policy of genocide and theft from the Native Americans, enslaved millions of Africans, invaded and overthrew governments including Iran, Chile, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Congo, Brazil, and S.Vietnam, and Haiti where Marines invaded and stayed for nearly 20 years, supported the world’s worst dictators like Pinochet of Chile, South Africa apartheid regimes, and Marcos of the Philippines, took half of Mexico’s territory in an imperial war in 1846, and now embraces murderous thugs like Philippine President Duterte, makes multi-billion weapons deals with countries like Saudi Arabia that use them for a horrific war in Yemen, and threatens nuclear war with N.Korea.
And now our white supremacist president wants to deport hundreds of thousands of immigrants regardless of the impact on families (not if you’re from Norway), open the coastal ocean areas to more oil drilling, roll back environmental regulations, reduce national park lands and open them to fossil fuel extraction, take aim at Social Security and Medicare, privatize public schools, and set conditions on Mmedicaid recipients that have been proven to be health-threatening and regressive.
And the Democratic Party is an enabler, they voted to support Trump’s bulging defense budget, and to renew the Patriotic Act when they could’ve stopped it. What’s it going to take for us to realize this country continues to create crap-holes everywhere, including our own home?
Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks do not disappoint in the movie, “The Post.” I felt drawn in by the inner workings of the two top newspapers in the country – The New York Times and the Washington Post – rivals in the movie. As a businesswoman, I was mesmerized by the corporate structure and the politics of the business passed down by her father to her husband. One of my favorite lines was Meryl Streep’s personal revelation, and lo her own realization that, “it’s no longer my father’s business.”
There were some tight points in the development of the film that old friendships and loyalties skirted up against. I know that I would find it hard to write a scathing news piece about an old yachting buddy. Ethical and legal conundrums abound in the movie. So I have coined a new term, “Streep-strength.” In a profession dominated by men, it really does help for women to possess “Streep-strength” and character.
The dogged determination of Tom Hanks in the movie confirms the courage of conviction. When a person feels convicted that some action is the right thing to do, caution is thrown to the wind, despite wise counsel. When all you have to lose is everything, and you still push full steam ahead toward a potential train wreck, believing you are right, close your eyes and hold your breath for what may come.
Protection of the identity of a source is crucial to the profession of journalism. The confidentiality coin is two-sided though. Integrity requires that only truth be told. The movie ends on a cliffhanger which I hope will segue into a sequel.
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