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Point/Counterpoint: Birge Life – Are We Better Off? Two Idiots Weigh In

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Point: Good Riddance, Flavelle

Marita Zouravlioff, 2L

Stop. Just stop. I think we’ve all had enough whining. You’ve relentlessly complained about the transition space. You’ve blamed it on the Dean, the admin, the university in general, your ill-timed conception and ensuing admission to law school…enough is enough. The Birge is really not so bad at all. I would even go as far to say that it’s a vast improvement over what we were dealing with over in Flavelle. Perhaps the summer erased some of your lower points last year, so let me just jog your memory. Surely you remember wearing a winter jacket in BLH? Or the row of broken chairs? Have you forgotten what it was like when your latecomer classmate had to get intimate with you just to find a seat in MCR? Friends, we’ve moved up in the world.

Natural light exposure is up 73%. At this time last year, vitamin D levels had already dropped to a dangerous low. The majority of the school population was exhibiting an alarming pallor, and it wasn’t just the horrific fluorescent lighting but the result of trudging from one subterranean classroom to another. We now walk outside to get places. The reading room has huge, glorious windows. Our food station is now a café and there is a smorgasbord of options to satisfy even the most discerning palate. If you need to eat lunch late, you will have more than just one pathetic reject sandwich to choose from. We do not all share your enthusiasm for egg salad, Paloma.

We’ve been integrated with some of the undergrad population, but this is not so terrible. Hopefully some of their zest for life will rub off on us…well, at least the sound of their innocent, unadulterated giggling is a nice contrast to our cynical and jaded laughter. You also have the opportunity to be mistaken for an undergrad and feel like a young pup again! Or, alternately, an 18-year-old might offer to carry your books in the hopes of becoming learned.

I know what you’re going to say. “But Marita, I miss the pit! It was where me and all my friendsies would hang out! We had like the best times!” If your best times were in the pit, you should begin to attend pub night. Just saying.

Not to mention, this is for an entirely good cause. Do you want to graduate from Canada’s premier law school? The Ivy school of the North, if you will? Then you cannot continue to attend class in a dungeon. You may not know this, but other law schools do not resemble a condemned community centre. A Stanford kid would probably tear from laughter upon touring Flavelle and then ask to see the real U of T law school. Hell, an Osgoode kid would do the same. The Modern Extension (I’m not making this up – that was its actual name) which included the library and main floor, was opened in 1991. That was over 20 years ago. There is nothing modern about late 80s architecture. Form follows function, whatever. It sucked.

In conclusion, stop being nostalgic for no good reason. Flavelle was a POS. U of T Law, you deserve better.

Counterpoint

Paloma van Groll, 2L

Listen, I don’t know who you’ve been talking to, but no one was complaining about the transition space. We were used to the dilapidated state of Flavelle, so if anything, I believe most of us approached this year with mild indifference – who cares if we trade one larger grimy space (Flavelle) for seven disjointed, slightly less grimy places? But after spending a few weeks shuttling between classes, it’s clear that what we had at Flavelle was dear. People should be complaining, alright – complaining about what we’ll be missing.

Sure, these days spent in ‘transition’ involve plenty of time outside going from class to class, and sure, this is great now as we enjoy the remnants of summer. But just wait until winter. We’re going to have to carry our coats around as we duck in and outside between classes. At least in Flavelle we didn’t have to take those coats off once we got to class. And think of all the money the Faculty saved on heating bills. Money that all went into financial aid, I’m sure.

Of course I remember that row of broken chairs. It was our comic relief from endless dreary days of reading. Remember when the ceiling of the library started falling apart and water leaked for weeks before it was fixed? ‘Ha-ha-ha,’ we would muse, ‘we pay $30k a year for this, can you believe it?’ What are we supposed to laugh about now? The plethora of natural light and ability to purchase more than fake Starbucks coffee and egg salad* for lunch? Yeah, Marita, HILARIOUS. Those new reading room windows you praise so highly? They will soon be prisms to an outside world you are not able to participate in. Now when we spend hours upon hours reading caselaw we will actually see what we’re missing. At least in Flavelle you could sit safely in the fluorescent lighting of the pit, and not even know if it was still nice outside.

The sound of undergrads’ unadulterated giggling is just another reminder that the real (job) world is quickly penning us in and I will be just another working adult so very soon. And really, undergrads are too busy puking in bushes and not doing readings for class to carry our books. We aren’t a source of interest to them, we’re just boring law students who happen to be stomping around like we own the place for two years.  We should lament the days of being quarantined in Flavelle, with only other law students. Who is better to have around than others as cynical and jaded as you? Misery loves company.

Yes, I would like to graduate from Canada’s premier law school, but what better place to hone legal skills than in a dungeon? The new building will be all flash and pizazz, with features to better distract you with. At Flavelle you could do your readings in the small and unattractive library and know that you were here to learn, not to enjoy frivolous coffee breaks with your pals on comfortable chairs basked in natural lighting. Please.

Sure, Flavelle was a ‘POS’, but it was our POS. OUR POS!

*I concede you this one point, Marita. I really did like those egg salad sandwiches.

 

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