VOICE

The newspaper for discourse and dissent.

Category: Volume I / Issue 3

Accepting Our Queerness

The relevance of LGBT rights to other minority experiences.

Sam Lam

When I am faced with the task of summarizing my evolving perspective on LGBT rights, gender sexuality, and queer theory, I balk. How do I explain the story without having to retell it from start to finish? But with the recent spate of suicides in this country by teenagers who were gay or were perceived as gay, I feel compelled to offer something. What helps me muster up the courage to write is to know that at this point, I only need to say something, not everything.

In the almost thirteen years I have learned to reconcile my being a gay male with other facets of my identity, I return constantly to the notion of queerness, of differentness. To me, this queerness is what binds the variegated experiences of individuals within the LGBT community. For instance, though I may not know precisely the experience of a transgender woman, she and I nevertheless share in common that we do not fit neatly into a concept of “normal.” I proffer that this queerness is a critical symbol from the LGBT experience that can and should be used by other minority communities, because it is queerness that constitutes the focal point for the mainstream’s aversion to and disenfranchisement of those communities. It is queerness that lies at the heart of vehement anti-gay rhetoric, such as when religious and political leaders rail against the so-called “gay agenda.”1 It is an affront to these leaders that I am gay, not so much because I have asked for rights per se, but because I have asked folks to accept my differentness. And often, that is too much to ask.

On one level, yes, identifying as LGBT is about civil rights, progressive sexuality and gender norms, and equality. But even more fundamentally, it is about the fact that we cannot or will not accept people who are different. Growing up, I was not really afraid of being teased for my views on gay marriage, my ideas of gender roles, and my perspective on homosexuality and religion. Rather, I was mainly afraid of being condemned for not fitting in.

The relevance of queerness to other minority experiences is direct and powerful, not just as a reflection of a shared experience between the LGBT community and other minority communities, but also as a dialectic to engage those communities.2 While the queerness of the LGBT community is quintessentially sexual and gender-based, the notion of queerness and the conceptions found in queer theory easily translate to the victims of rampant racism that still poisons our society, or immigration detainees unscrupulously stripped of their human rights under the aegis of “national security.”

The common thread in all these discussions is the oppression and suppression of minorities, which is to say the “others,” the different, the queer. We feel somehow alright with pushing “those people” to the fringe because, after all, they are not us. They are “over there.” “Why should we care about the rights of immigration detainees,” I often hear, “if they’re not even citizens?” To answer that human beings have value and deserve respect is apparently nonsensical to some people. To them, the matter is decided whenever we figuratively (sometimes literally) herd a group of “queers” out of sight—not realizing that naming them “different” is itself what pushes them to the outer fringes of society. To call people “queer” is often tantamount to washing our hands of knowing, learning from, accepting, and understanding them. “Why should we care about the rights of queer people, if they’re not even us?”

If the sickness is one of pushing people away, then the antidote is one of bringing people in. When we call people “queer,” we are not making a descriptive statement, but rather a normative one, for at the end of the day we are all weird, different, and queer. As Professor Kenji Yoshino of NYU Law wrote: “[T]he mainstream is a myth. . . . Because human beings hold many identities, the mainstream is a shifting coalition, and none of us is entirely within it. As queer theorists have recognized, it is not normal to be completely normal.”3 There is no normal. Therefore, “other” people cannot constitute any perfect factual description of the essential characteristics of some subsection of the public. I would be remiss in not emphasizing that this “othering,” in the right hands, can be and has been a useful device for coalition-building and discourse, and thus a vehicle for inclusion. Too often, however, “othering” is used by the wrong people, either intentionally or unintentionally, as a device for the wholesale oppression of individuals who appear to fall within a targeted subsection of the population. Regardless of whether queerness is celebrated or maligned, it is of critical importance to the experience of minority communities and individuals, and it can be wielded as a source of power and solidarity.4

It seems too crude to say in conclusion that we should tolerate each other’s differences and promote diversity. Certainly the LGBT community asks for that; all minority communities ask for that. But we do not ask simply to be “tolerated” for our queerness; we ask that our queerness be accepted on every level, whether social, cultural, legal, political, or even spiritual. And in doing so, we ask for an essential American, and human, entitlement: the right not only to be accepted for our differences, but to be accepted for our differences to the same degree as everyone else is accepted for theirs.

_______________________________
1. Or to put it in Justice Scalia’s words, “the anti-anti-homosexual culture.” Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 602 (2003) (dissenting).
2. See generally Victoria Ortiz & Jennifer Elrod, “Construction Project: Color Me Queer + Color Me Family = Camilo’s Story,” in Crossroads, Directions, and a New Critical Race Theory 258-273 (Francisco Valdes, Jerome McCristal Gulp, & Angela P. Harris, eds. 2002) (“Using the mortar of dialectics, we construct a theory for ourselves and our family—three people, two lesbians and one boy, two Latinas/os and a person of white—as well as for our various and overlapping communities . . .”) (discussing the authors’ use of certain theoretical frameworks in the exploration of their non-traditional family, including feminism, Critical Race Theory, Critical Feminist Theory, Disability Theory, and queer theory).
3. Kenji Yoshino, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights 25 (2007). 4. Cf. Nicholas P. De Genova, Migrant “Illegality” and Deportability in Everyday Life, 31 Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 419-47 (2002) (discussing the “illegalization” of undocumented immigrants, specifically migrant workers, as an “active sociopolitical process” and affirmative legal construction, rather than merely a description of some characteristic of “illegality”).

Advertisements

Lollygabber

Curve Your Enthusiasm: A Call for Academic Fairness

Lauren Davis

The faculty recently voted to change the academic rules in three areas, and according to the Curriculum Committee, the changes will go into effect this semester rather than next semester. Although the changes are not necessarily draconian, the timing of their implementation certainly betrays the notions of fair notice we have been learning about since law school began. In light of this, I urge the administration to implement these restrictions next semester rather than more than three-quarters into this semester. I hope other students will join me in holding the law school accountable.

Rule IV.C.1 and 2 finally clarify which courses must impose a median and which courses are exempt. However, what parts 1 and 2 giveth, part 3 taketh away: “In all courses to which the mandatory median set forth in paragraph 1 does not apply, the course median shall be between A- (3.7) and B (3.0).” In other words, a median is still required: At least 50 percent of students in any class—even courses seemingly exempt from the mandatory median—will receive an A- or lower at best and a B or lower at worst. This is strange because the faculty voted in March 2009 that a median would not be required in certain classes. Counter to its position in March 2009, the faculty recently adopted this change, subjecting students in all courses to the restrictions imposed by a mandatory median, regardless of class size or method of evaluation. If you feel this amendment, the purpose of which remains unexplained, could unfairly lower your Lawyering Skills or upper level course grade, please consider emailing or meeting with the administration to voice your concern.

Moreover, Rule IV.F.2 specifies the passing grade in a Credit/No Credit class: “In order to receive credit for a course taken Credit/No Credit, a student must obtain a minimum grade of C- (1.7).” This recent update does not negatively affect me because I asked about the standards at the beginning of the semester and was told that I had to earn a C or higher to receive credit. Therefore, I did not detrimentally rely on the understandable assumption that a student simply had to pass with a D- or higher to receive credit. I told a handful of people about the standard, but I did not tell the entire class because I was unsure how reliable the answer I received was (the standard, after all, was not clarified in the rules until last week). If any 2Ls are currently enrolled in a Credit/No Credit course and did not receive adequate notice about this modification of the rules, please voice your concern.

One of the greatest opportunities at this law school is the ability of students to build an institution and set standards for future classes. I am often amazed by the support and guidance we receive from the staff, faculty, and administration. It is out of respect for this institution and its quest to build the law school of the twenty-first century that I demand academic fairness.

Diversity: Law School Rankings

Jennifer Elrod

Every April, U.S. News & World Report (USN) publishes its latest law school rankings. This list drives most of legal education. For applicants, the rankings signal which law schools are slotted into one of four tiers (only tier one counts in the view of many); for deans, they are a reminder of the fierce, endless competition to climb higher on the ranking ladder; for alumni, they can be a point of pride or dismay, depending on which way (up or down) their school moves in the rankings’ hierarchy; for employers, they are a way to focus on a limited number of schools for potential employees.

What can be gleaned from USN rankings? Some claim that applicants can make more informed choices based on USN’s assessment of law schools, e.g., employment after graduation. But others counter that this measurement can be misleading because law schools create institutional “bridge” jobs so that more graduates are included in the school’s employment statistics. Critics say it is a system that can be, and often is, gamed by deans and administrators so schools move up the USN ranking ladder. Professor Jeffrey Stake has created an online Ranking Game.1 A player, using the USN categories, selects her criteria, assigns a weight to each, and views the result: where the player’s school ranks. If the player does not like her results, she can shift the weight given to various criteria to achieve her desired result.

Based on the pervasiveness and perceived power of the USN rankings, many law school deans respond by pushing to raise the median LSAT and GPA scores of their entering first year class. The aim is to have their schools rise in the rankings, which will attract applicants with high numbers, alumni dollars, and a stronger reputation for that institution. In fact, 40 percent of the total ranking depends upon the reputation of the school as judged by a dean and three faculty members at each ABA-approved law school who are invited to rank other schools on a scale of one to five. But how many in the legal academy take the time to acquire sufficient knowledge to assess accurately what the other 199 law schools are doing in terms of the USN criteria. What happens most often is that the same 10 or 15 law schools receive high numbers while the remaining 190 or 185 schools are left with the task of a mounting an expensive public relations campaign to publicize their programs. Moreover, the reliance on perception rather than in-depth knowledge of a particular law school’s program is problematic as it may lead to inaccurate assessments and, in turn, incorrect rankings.

Here are three points to ponder: How many in academia know that the University of New Mexico’s law school faculty-to-student ratio is 1 to 10, and has been for nearly ten years; that the University of Miami’s law school has taught International Law to its first year students for more than a decade; and that City University of New York Law School instituted a year-long ethics course for first year students in 1983. None of these factors play a role in USN’s rankings but they might be significant for an applicant’s enrollment decision. These three points illustrate the gap between what USN measures and what might be relevant to a potential applicant.

Dean Richard Matasar, New York Law School, points out that the USN rankings assess primarily inputs, e.g., GPA, LSAT, and the reputation of the faculty and dean. He suggests that this is not the best or most accurate way of measuring law schools for the ultimate consumer: the applicant. Matasar argues that the USN criteria should measure mainly outputs, e.g., practical skills training, cost of tuition, quality of teaching, and faculty-student ratio.

Another interesting aspect of the USN rankings is a separate list of specialized programs based upon the assessment of faculty who teach in a particular field, such as tax or environmental law. Although Yale ranks number one overall, it does not place in the top ten of environmental law programs. The number one program is Vermont Law School’s, a fourth tier institution. Thus, when an applicant with an interest in environmental law tries to assess what meaning to draw from this divergent information in the USN Rankings, she is left with a contradictory answer.

The most significant casualty of the USN rankings is diversity. USN does not include diversity as a relevant factor in its measurement of the Top 100 law schools. Rather, diversity is a separate listing. Most of the law schools with significant numbers of African American, Latino, and Native American students are fourth-tier schools, according to the 2011 USN rankings. The top four are Florida A&M University (41 percent African Americans), Texas Southern University (51 percent African Americans), University of the District of Columbia (29 percent African Americans), and Florida International University (44 percent Latinos).

Because of the strong incentive for deans to seek applicants with ever higher LSAT and GPA numbers to move their institution higher in USN’s rankings, applicants with lower LSATs and/or GPAs find that gaining admission to law school is a growing challenge. This group of applicants includes a disproportionate number of African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans.

The reality is that there are fewer students of color in entering law school classes as illustrated by the Columbia / SALT Report, which I discussed previously. And all the talk about seeking a diverse entering first-year class is just that: talk. It is time for law schools and the profession to walk the talk by insisting that USN include diversity as 25 percent weighted criterion in its measurement of law schools. Such weighting might motivate law schools to actualize diversity by enrolling a critical mass of students of color in each entering class.

_______________________________
1. http://monoborg.law.indiana.edu/LawRank/

Haunted Orange

A look at the paranormal side of Old Towne Orange, California.

Sheila Fortman-Craun, Mary Kelleher-Jones, and Debbie Mondares

On Saturday October 23, three brave souls from the UCI Law School ventured to the mean streets of Orange (that is right—there is a City of Orange in Orange County). They were looking for “Haunted Orange” and they found it.

Debbie is interested in the paranormal (some of her favorite shows are Paranormal State and Haunted History). Sheila found a card at the Orange International Street Fair—another story in itself—promoting a ghost tour of the City of Orange. We tried to get on the dinner-tour for October 30, but it was sold out. So we went on October 23, which was great because there was also a full moon that night—spooky.

We started the evening at the Orange County Mining Company, a yummy place to eat. We would need our strength for a 90 minute walking tour. After that, we went down Chapman Avenue to Old Orange—close to Chapman University (boo)—and found two ghouls with lanterns and eerie music—aka tour guides at the Orange Chamber of Commerce. Our first paranormal destination.

Many of the buildings in Orange used for businesses now were former residences. The Chamber of Commerce building was a home to a doctor and his wife. She divorced him, and soon after she was taken ill. He was the only doctor in the area and he refused to treat her. Needless to say, she passed on, but apparently not far enough because her ghost is said to haunt the building. Tenants have found items thrown around. The building also housed a mortuary for a period of time—more bodies, more ghost sightings.

Next stop, the Elks Lodge on Chapman Ave located next to an antique store. A ghost of a former Elk is said to inhabit the space—especially the stairs. Some employees have reported an inability to climb the stairs—the ghost is holding them back.

The Orange Circle was the next location. Apparently, quite some time ago, two boys playing in the circle were mowed down by a horse-pulled wagon. When the movie That Thing You Do with Tom Hanks was filmed in the Circle, the production crew reported seeing two boys in vintage clothing playing in the street. When they went to tell them the Circle was off limits during production, they vanished…hmmm.

Down to another antique store with windows that jutted out onto the sidewalk. The first floor used to be a furniture store and the second floor was a mortuary. You needed the furniture maker to build the coffins. If a body was unidentified, it would be propped in the window of the furniture store— a “do you know this person” advertisement.

Rutebegorz Restaurant was the next destination. According to eyewitnesses, an older woman paces the halls and before the restaurant opened, someone messed with all of their soda machines.We were told that thr staff has no problem commenting on their hauntings. It is also supposed to be a great place to get vegetarian food—might want to check it out.

A now closed, old tea house in Orange once belonged to a banker. When it was a tea house, there were tales of children playing in the attic, but none were ever seen. Sometimes, a place might not be haunted, but the items brought in from somewhere else carry a spirit. The proprietress of that tea shop purchased antique toys. Makes you want to think when you are shopping around for used furniture—do not bring the old spirits with you.

Across from Orange Radiator is a building with a false façade. Behind the façade is an old hotel. When we ventured around the building, the hotel structure was still standing. Wahoo (as in Taco) owns the buildings now. During recent renovations, EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon) of horses were heard in an area that used to be a stable.

Farther down Chapman, between what is now two antique stores, was an old motorcycle shop. One of the mechanics in the shop was burned to death and clerks in the stores have reported seeing a burning man on occasion. This was a fun, educational, and cheap evening (only $12.00 per ticket). We walked and learned about death photos—where dead people were propped up for one last picture with the family. We ended our evening at an antique store where all of the price tags mysteriously disappeared. Quite sometime later, they were found behind a tall, heavy chest. Our tour guides were fun—one works at Disneyland in guest relations and Ernie, the brains behind “Haunted Orange” was going to go to New Orleans to check out some more paranormal activity. Their advice to us was if you are going to buy something, carry it around with you, if it does not feel right, it might be haunted. There are ghosts out there—if you are willing to walk around and find them. If you want more information, go to http://www.hauntedorange.com.

Pottery: A Passion

Char Anderson

When Irina Trasovan started talking to me about writing this article, it was due way off in November. What to write about? Something about me? Well, I have been or still am (to name a few) a mother, wife, girlfriend, sister, aunt, friend, salesperson, blackjack dealer, hippie, airline training supervisor, faculty assistant, and potter.

Right now, pottery takes up all my non-law school hours since we are getting ready for a show. I started making pots about 11 years ago when my daughter took a pottery class. I saw her work and I said, “I wanna do that!” So I went right down to the Irvine Fine Arts Center and signed up for a class. It was a 10 week class, one night a week for 3 ½ hours. I thought I would make a full set of dishes for my home and maybe some presents for my friend. After the first night, my grandiose ideas were scaled back a little, I was hoping for just something round.

Mastering wheel throwing, for most people, takes a while—for me, it took a whole lot longer. I laughed and laughed through my first ten weeks. People would come by and say, “WOW, that’s better; it’s even sort of round.” I was awful, but I did not care. I was hooked. The first couple of classes I made a whole bunch of three-inch tall, sort of round bud vases and doorstops with terrible glazing. I was so proud!

If I had ever wondered about how good my friendships were before I took up pottery, all doubts were erased. They warmly smiled and graciously accepted my gifts of doorstops, platters that were too heavy to pass, fruit bowls that could collapse a kitchen counter, and chip and dip sets that caused a hernia to make but also only held about a teaspoon of salsa. I have REALLY good friends!

I like to think I have progressed from those first 10 weeks. Like with anything, practice makes it “a little better.” My husband and I now have our own small pottery business. (I am the potter and he is the glazer. How that evolved is a whole other story.) Pottery is my passion. I hope all of you will be able to pursue your passion even if it is only part time. Now get back to those books and become lawyers so we can call on you when someone breaks a pot and cuts themselves and sues us.

Char and Larry Anderson will be at the Sawdust Art and Craft Festival in Laguna Beach every weekend from November 20 to December 12 at booth #218.

Democracy Away from Home

Non-Native Californians’ Reflections on Californian Democracy

Denny Chan and Lauren Davis

November can be an exciting and anxious time. In the law school universe, students begin bracing themselves for the impending onslaught of final examinations. Perhaps more importantly, in the greater sociopolitical context of our country, Americans (depending on the year) have the opportunity to engage in one of the most important privileges and responsibilities our democracy affords us: voting. As two out-of-state students (Michigan and Texas/ Connecticut/Washington), this month’s midterm election marked our first ever participation in a California election. Because state and local jurisdictions are typically in charge of election administration, election procedures vary greatly from state to state. We wanted to share our individual observations and reflections on our first California election as some food for thought about the vibrancy of our nation’s democracy.

  •        As a state with many non-English proficient residents, California provides extremely accommodating language access measures. Whether it be under obligation by federal law or the local jurisdiction’s choice, I was pleasantly surprised by the readily accessible election materials—signs as well as ballots—in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. I encountered multilingual poll workers who wore labels that clearly identified them as proficient in specific languages. These indicators serve as a reassuring reminder of the robust protections that exist for language minorities in the United States, particularly in light of a long history in this country of systematic disenfranchisement of otherwise eligible but non-white voters at the polling place, like English-only requirements. Although the state’s language access measures are far from perfect, many jurisdictions across the country struggle with language access at the ballot, so California seems at least ahead of the game in this regard.
  •       On the other hand, the language of the propositions was extremely confusing. While waiting in line to vote, I had to text my friend to make sure I correctly understood the language behind Propositions 20 and 27. Apparently, those propositions were essentially mutually exclusive.  First, it defies logic to order the redistricting propositions as 20 and 27. Such a large gap with interrupting non-related propositions in between throws off even the sharpest voter. Secondly, the complicated (dare I say vague) wording of the propositions raises concerns for a fully informed and deliberate electorate. If law students—presumably well-educated and intellectually sound individuals— struggle to understand what propositions mean, it is reasonable to infer that other voters will also face similar, if not more pronounced, difficulties. Not only are propositions difficult to understand, but a subsequently related difficulty is understanding the effects of propositions. Giving a fiscal impact assessment of a proposition may be one necessary piece of information that voters need to make a fully informed decision, but it alone is insufficient. Furthermore, voters cannot be expected to make responsible, reasonable decisions if they do not know what they are voting for, and unfortunately, cultural and social norms may pressure voters to vote in an arbitrary, “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” fashion.
  •       On the topic of propositions, California has an enormous number of propositions compared to other states. During my time as an eligible and registered voter in Michigan, I saw many hot-button issues via propositions, like affirmative action, gay marriage, and medical marijuana. But the breadth of issues that go before California voters in every election makes other states look almost lazy. The proposition-heaviness of California’s elections also implicates some interesting questions about direct democracy. At first blush, having more propositions seems to cut in favor of democracy, making government more accountable and responsive to the people’s will. On the other hand, one must question whether members of the general electorate are qualified to make extremely detailed decisions about how our government runs. My skepticism exploded during this month’s election when I overheard a voter waiting in line openly ask, “Is this a presidential election?” Perhaps she is an extreme example, but the point is that seriously under-informed voters pose a democratic hazard in proposition-heavy elections.
  •       The “bipartisan” positions also pose a problem. While I appreciated the statements the candidates had the opportunity to provide, the only identifying information given in ballots was the candidate’s name and occupation, which confused me. Fortunately, I caught myself favoring a retired teacher over a businessman (based solely on my preconceived notions of those career trajectories) and decided to simply abstain from voting for the positions I had too little information to make an informed decision. It was extremely tempting, however, to vote simply based on occupation because it was one of the few pieces of information I had. Also, what happens in a predominately white, upper middle-class community when one of the “bipartisan” candidates has a last name like “Gonzales” or “Hwang”? Although I did not vote in an “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” manner, I wondered how many people had employed capricious voting tactics and how that may have affected the outcome.
  •      Finally, our draconian and racist immigration restrictions have caused the de facto disenfranchisement of people of color. A few days before the election, I asked my roommate, an immigrant from Columbia, if she planned to vote. “In two years,” she responded. So, even though my roommate has lived and worked in this country for almost a decade, she will not be able to vote until she becomes a United States citizen in two years. She is not alone. While a more-than-substantial minority of this nation is Latino, Congress continues to pass laws (without much opposition) that directly limit the eligibility of recent immigrants from Central and South America to vote through citizenship. But hope is on the horizon. In less than 20 years, the children of hundreds of thousands of immigrants will be eligible to vote, and neither the Tea Party nor other not-so-closeted racists will be able to do anything about it.

Although we do not want to draw broad generalizations based on our single experience, we hope our thoughts and reflections of this November’s midterm election offer some meaningful commentary on the state of democracy in California. Indeed, our country has come a long way since the days of the poll tax and grandfather clauses, but the empirical reality is that our system has major kinks that need to be ironed out before our democracy can be fully functioning and responsive to the needs of all its people.

Competing Theories

Jorge Nicolas Anwandter

As this year’s 1Ls know, competitiveness has recently become a very controversial matter on campus. After fall break, Dean Schroeder spoke to the 1Ls to discuss some developments within our class since August. Her greatest point of contention was that she had received complaints about the competitive nature of our class. This competitiveness has manifested itself in grade comparisons, study-group exclusivity, and a particular arrangement between some study groups to turn class participation into a point- based competition. Dean Schroeder informed us that several students had approached her, so stressed out that they contemplated dropping out. Given the apparent intensity of this competitiveness, Dean Schroeder reiterated UCI Law’s dedication to collaborative learning and expressed great disappointment in our class not living up to the benchmark the inaugural class set.

The student body reacted to this meeting in a variety of ways. Some approached the Dean to thank her for addressing an issue that they were afraid to confront directly. Others, unaware of the apparent competitive nature of our class, questioned which mod, study groups, and students were the “source of the problem.” Some even questioned their own role in the issue. Most students, however, expressed some level of irritation with the reprimand. Competition is a natural element of nearly every aspect of life, and law school is no exception. As long as grades are on a curve, students will compete to achieve the best possible outcome. The student body’s wide range of legal field interests might mitigate the importance of surpassing one’s peers, but nonetheless a level of competition is unavoidable. Furthermore, some competition is healthy to motivate students to produce their best work. Case in point: the study group competition Dean Schroeder spoke about had the low stakes of the losing group having to cook dinner for the winners at the end of the year. As far as competitions go, this arrangement seems benign. And as far as study group exclusivity is concerned, after a certain point the benefit of a study group diminishes as the number of members increases.

I support the goal of avoiding the traditional backstabbing atmosphere of law schools, and I am sure many others who came to UCI Law appreciate it as well. That said, I believe UCI Law still does a fantastic job of balancing competition with collaboration. At other schools, competition has become limitless and obsessive, devouring every moment of students’ time. It prompts them to withhold class notes from classmates who miss class, check out crucial law books for excessive periods, and, of course, cheat. One of my friends went to USC to get his JD/MBA, and within a year dropped out of the law program due to the extreme competitive environment and resulting social anxieties. Thus, the low levels of competition seen at UCI Law are far from the cutthroat behavior at other schools.

Yet, competition is an issue worth some concern at UCI Law, especially if students felt so pressured that they contemplated dropping out. Grade comparisons and similar behaviors facilitate anxiety, and they should be minimized. But given the school’s aversion to competitive behavior, I am perplexed as to why our mailboxes were spammed with ads for the $135 LEEWS test-taking seminar, which claims among other things that “successful law students are merely less inept than classmates … and/or they’ve taken LEEWS.” Additionally, while Dean Schroeder’s discussion of the matter was important, the approach of comparing us to the 2Ls—a comparison we face quite often—frustrated many. Every new class, particularly in the first years, brings a distinct culture, and comparisons such as these seem unfair. A better approach would have been to emphasize, as Professor Fisk did during a discussion we had on the matter, that UCI Law is in a unique position to reduce the need for the best grade. Based on our contributions to the school and community, and the intimate nature of the classrooms, our resumes and glowing letters of recommendation will make every student more than a GPA to employers.