Blast from the Past: Cartoons, weed, and underwear

Justin Khorana-Medeiros (1L)

November 20, 2007 – “JD students conserve energy – forego climate change conference” by Robert Wakulat

In the run-up to global climate negotiations in Bali, the Faculty of Law organized and co-hosted an interdisciplinary climate change conference: “A Globally Integrated Climate Policy for Canada – November 1-2, 2007.”

In spite of featuring prominent academics, industry and private sector representatives, as well as an Assistant Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Energy, the conference failed to arouse excitement in the student body. “We also weren’t sure why there weren’t more JD students” said Professor Andrew Green, a lead organizer. “We advertised in multiple forums and made it free for students. Was it Reading Week?” According to Mr. Wakulat however, “those that did attend found it was illuminating and worth their time.”

Panelist and long-forgotten journalist Andrew Coyne noted “…you don’t have to sign up and take an oath and say, ‘I think everything put out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is gospel.’” One wonders what he might say about the subject today. I suppose we will never know.

September 11, 2007 – “Simon says… Profiling Simon Stern, one of the new additions to the faculty this year” by Maria Zeldis

Professor Simon Stern, fresh from his adventures PhD-ing, clerking for a federal judge in Seattle, and practicing litigation in Washington D.C., began his U of T teaching career with a criminal law small group and a course called “Legal Mysteries.” Asked who was the sexiest Supreme Court Justice, he wisely (and immediately) responded: “There are no literally sexy Supreme Court judges in the conventional sense of the term. But if you take it metaphorically, how can there be any doubt? It’s obviously Bora Laskin! …Although L’Heureux Dubé is a close second.”

1Ls currently enjoying LPPE with Professor Stern may be interested to learn that he prefers boxers to briefs, liquor to beer, haikus to limericks, and New York to Los Angeles. It all makes so much sense now!

November 21, 2006 – “Debate over Danish cartoons turns hostile”  by Jonathan Song, Mark Myhre, Stephen Birman

Sandwiched between the Rushdie Affair of 1989 and last year’s Charlie Hebdo tragedy was the Danish cartoons controversy of 2006.

The Federalist Society, in concert with the Faculty of Law, held a debate about whether the cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed should have been published here in Canada. Ezra Levant (then editor of the Western Standard and today hack journalist) argued for the motion, while Islamic Law and Business Professor Mohammad Fadel argued against.

Unsurprisingly, the UV journalists in attendance described the Mr. Levant’s debating style as “witty, jocular, and at times abusive” while Mr. Fadel maintained a composure at once “calm and academic”. The arguments made on either side were typical of free expression versus cultural sensitivity discussions: the cartoons were simply an attempt to antagonize and demonize Muslims, while alternatively media outlets were abandoning freedom of expression, yielding to intimidation, and behaving hypocritically vis-à-vis other religions.

Ultimately “feelings about the debate were mixed. Dean Moran, who was not in attendance, said that she wouldn’t be inclined to invite Mr. Levant back to the school any time soon, because several students told her the debate did not take the academic tone she would have expected.”

September 16, 2008 – “UV first-year survey results” by Amanda Melvin

Ever wonder what 1Ls were like 8 years ago? If you’re anything like me, you’ve thought of little else. It’s kept us up at night. Well, now we have the answers!

96.1% of respondents were of the opinion that U of T is the best law school in Canada, with a “vast majority” of students picking it as the best school in North America (Yale making a distant second). Most students were from Ontario, with British Columbians trailing not far behind.

The entering class’s favourite subjects were, in order, Torts, Constitutional, and Contracts.

A full 40% of students planned on being in the top third of the class at the end of the school year.

Fully 66% of students planned to work for a big firm. 1Ls had an extremely wide range of expected salaries, with responses ranging from $0 (grad school plans) to $160,000 (New York firms?). Many students expressed a desire to make “enough” to cover their student debts.

On a more personal level, many students cited going to the gym, running, cooking, and playing/listening to music as top ways to de-stress. Unsurprisingly, 17% of respondents cited alcohol and marijuana as preferred leisure activities. Shockingly, the student body was split on the question of whether Batman or Superman was the better superhero.

(NB – This survey was not conducted in a scientific fashion and only sampled ¼ of the class.)