Fall Ball Bigger Than Ever

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

Last Thursday, October 27, Fall Ball, the annual New York University School of Law student costume party, went off without a hitch, with more students attending than ever before. Held off-campus for the first time, over 1,300 law students and their guests made the trek to Terminal 5, a multi-level concert hall in Midtown Manhattan, filling two levels of the trendy venue to capacity, according to event organizer Marissa Prieto ‘18 of the Student Bar Association (SBA).

Sponsored by the SBA and the Office of Student Affairs, Fall Ball is generally the most widely-attended social gathering at NYU Law. Because of its popularity with students, planners were initially hesitant to move the event away from Law School facilities. However, with mounting concerns about liability and requested attendance outpacing available space, then-SBA Social Chairs, now SBA President and Vice President, Evan Shepherd ‘17 and Samantha Coxe ‘17 began exploring external options, eventually identifying Terminal 5 as a prospective location last spring.

Asked for his thoughts after the event, Shepherd said, “[Samantha and I] believe the event was a success! We first want to thank [SBA Social Chairs] Neesha and Marissa for all of their hard work planning and executing Fall Ball. There are kinks that will be ironed out, but that comes with hosting an event for the first time.”

untitled

Following their election as social chairs in March, Neesha Chhina ‘18 and Marissa Prieto ’18 worked with Dean of Students Jason Belk and Assistant Director of Student Affairs Sarah Bowman to finalize the details, signing a contract with Terminal 5 earlier this fall. In an email to the Student Bar Association obtained by The Commentator, Belk praised the efforts of the SBA, calling Fall Ball “amazing” and saying how “incredibly proud” he was of the way the event was executed.

Said Belk, who attended Fall Ball along with Director of Student Affairs Israel Rodriguez, “From what I gathered, students enjoyed themselves and appreciated the enormous amount of time and thought [the SBA] put in to the event.”

To expand on this year’s success with students at the helm, the SBA has plans to create a social committee to work with the social chairs to improve upon the event and incorporate more student input.

“I think the venue was the biggest highlight for sure. The atmosphere was way more of a party than when it was in [Vanderbilt Hall]. I also think one of the highlights was the fact that people were able to bring more guests, and the event didn’t feel supervised by NYU administrators/staff. We’re also really proud of the fact that our event was safe and had no major mishaps. Thankfully everyone was able to have a good time and do so safely,” said Chhina.

 

Editor’s note: Naeem Crawford-Muhammad is the current Law School student senator and a member of the Student Bar Association.

Letter from the Editor: New York Voter Registration Deadline Looms

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

The New York State voter registration deadline is this week. The New York State Board of Elections requires all voters who are registering by mail to have their registration forms postmarked by Friday, October 14 in order for the Board of Elections to receive the form for processing by Wednesday, October 19.

If you recently moved to New York from another state, you must register to vote in New York State. If you have changed your address from one New York location to another, you must re-register to vote using the same form. If you can vote, we encourage you to register to vote and cast your ballot on November 8.

Letter from the Editor: The Commentator’s 50th Anniversary

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

Dear readers,

Thank you for your ongoing support of The Commentator, the official student newspaper of New York University School of Law. 2015-2016 was a special year for the paper and saw us move from being a printed paper to an online platform: www.nyulawcommentator.org. This year promises to be another special year for us and happens to be our 50th anniversary. Founded five decades ago in 1966 as a weekly, print newspaper, The Commentator remains dedicated to bringing original content created by  NYU Law students to the wider legal community.

At The Commentator, our contributors have the freedom to determine their own areas of interest. In the past year alone, The Commentator has published scores of articles covering the thorniest issues of the day. From current events like the 2016 presidential election and the ongoing Supreme Court vacancy, to more casual and fun reads like our fashion column highlighting the best-dressed students at the Law School and our satire section, Uncommentable, which uses humor to shed light on everyday situations faced by law students. With The Commentator, you can keep up-to-date on the latest events at NYU Law as well as use our platform to share your opinion on an issue of your choice with the world.

While law school is tough and spare time is precious, we hope that you will spend some of your down-time with us. If you’re interested in writing, editing, or photography and would like to learn more about roles with The Commentator, email us at law.commentator@nyu.edu.

Kind regards,

Naeem Crawford-Muhammad,
Editor-in-Chief

 

 

Election 2016: Sanders Brings Record Crowds to Washington Square Park

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

Riding the momentum of a string of primary and caucus victories in his race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) addressed thousands of cheering supporters in New York City’s Washington Square Park on Wednesday night.

New York royalty Spike Lee, Tim Robbins, and Rosario Dawson warmed up the throngs of attendees on a crisp, spring night when temperatures dipped into the forties. Sanders’ campaign estimated that the event drew more than 27,000 supporters to the Greenwich Village park, besting then-candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 record of 24,000. The crowd was notably young and diverse, perhaps reflecting the character of New York University, which surrounds Washington Square Park on parts of all sides.

Bernie Sanders Rally - Mercer Street
The line to enter Washington Square Park stretched several blocks down West Third Street to Mercer Street.

While the crowd may have been more diverse than those that typically attend a Sanders rally, the message was vintage Bernie, with the candidate railing against student loan debt, lack of affordable housing, and the impact of big money on the financing of elections.

“The [American people] are looking at the status quo and saying it’s not working,” Sanders said. “It’s just not working for ordinary Americans.”

Sanders is hoping to close the gap with Democratic frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ahead of Tuesday’s New York presidential primary. According to a Sienna College survey released Wednesday, Clinton leads Sanders by 10 points. The candidates will square off in a CNN-sponsored debate tonight in Brooklyn.

Election 2016: Bernie Sanders to Hold Rally in Washington Square Park

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

According to an official announcement from Bernie 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, the Democratic senator from Vermont will hold a rally in Washington Square Park’s main plaza at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13.

New York University Executive Vice President for Health Robert Berne sent an email to the NYU community saying that “thousands” of members of the public may descend on the popular downtown park, which borders large portions of the NYU campus, including the Law School. According to Berne, who cites the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in his email, the park will be shut down on Tuesday at midnight in preparation for the Sanders rally on Wednesday. While nearby streets are expected to be closed to vehicles, pedestrian traffic should be unaffected, albeit slowed by crowds.

Sanders’ rally comes hot on the heels of his streak of winning seven of the last eight Democratic contests, including this past weekend’s in Wyoming. 247 delegates will be allocated proportionately between Sanders and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in next week’s New York Democratic presidential primary. Both candidates have strong connections to the state of New York. Sanders was born in Brooklyn and Clinton represented New York in the United States Senate for eight years from 2001 to 2009.

As of Monday night, a Facebook event sponsored by “New Yorkers for Bernie Sanders 2016” listed over sixteen thousand people as planning to attend Wednesday’s rally.

According to the  New York Times delegate tracker, which relies on figures tabulated the Associated Press, Clinton leads Sanders in the delegate count 1,305 to 1,086. Additionally, Clinton leads the race for superdelegates 469 to 31.

SBA Election Results: Evan Shepherd, Sam Coxe Elected SBA President, Vice President

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 spring Student Bar Association elections!

  • President – Evan Shepherd
  • Vice President – Samantha Coxe
  • Secretary – Dana Wellesly-Stein
  • Student Senator – Naeem Crawford-Muhammad
  • Social Chairs – Neesha Chhina, Marissa Prieto
  • 2L Representatives – Agnes Aniol, Andrew Gerst
  • 3L Representatives – Staci Cox, Karston Erickson, Sarah Hsu

SBA Debate: Candidates Square Off on Eve of Election

Written by Cristina Stiller, News Editor, and Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

Last night, The Commentator hosted the first-annual Student Bar Association (SBA) Debate. Vice presidential candidates Samantha Coxe ’17 and George Harris ’18 opened the debate, followed by presidential candidates Evan Shepherd ’17 and Alexandra Serre ’17.

According to SBA rules, there are no formal joint tickets in elections. However, Mr. Shepherd and Ms. Coxe, after running on opposing tickets for social chair last spring, are running informally as a joint ticket this year. Ms. Serre and Mr. Harris, a first-time candidate for the SBA’s executive board, are doing the same. The debate was moderated by The Commentator’s Editor-in-Chief Naeem Crawford-Muhammad and News Editor Cristina Stiller.

All four candidates currently serve on the SBA. Ms. Serre has the most SBA experience among the group. She served as a class representative during her 1L year and is now the SBA treasurer, where she oversees the student government’s $200,000 budget. Mr. Harris is the only first-year law student among the top-tier candidates. He is the 1L representative for Section 4.

Mr. Shepherd and Ms. Coxe, both second-year law students, presently serve as the SBA’s social chairs. Overseeing campus-wide events like Bar Review, Fall Ball, and Spring Fling, social chair is arguably the most well-known of the SBA leadership roles. It is the only position, for example, that requires the office-holder to host weekly student events for the entire Law School.

It was clear from the opening statements that both sets of candidates were well-prepared. With several dozen people in attendance, including Dean of Students Jason Belk, the candidates offered detailed policy proposals for a range of student concerns.

Mr. Shepherd appeared the most comfortable in the debate format. Speaking often without notes, he repeatedly came from behind his podium to move closer to the audience when explaining his ideas. Ms. Serre, one of two Californians in the race (Ms. Coxe is from Los Angeles), kept a cool demeanor throughout, easily switching between diverse topic areas, such as tuition levels and the Law School’s alcohol policy.

In one exchange, Ms. Serre offered a passionate explication of the SBA Finance Committee’s work, which she heads, in setting student budgets for the 2015-2016 academic year. “I think all the student input we got [over the summer] was very important. No one was forcing them to [review budgets] over the summer,” said Ms. Serre.

Alternatively, much of Mr. Shepherd’s pitch revolved around his record as social chair, where he says he has kept five out of six campaign promises for diversifying social event locations and increasing inclusiveness and attendance. (The sixth promise, according to Mr. Shepherd, was fiscally unfeasible.)

While the candidates largely agreed with their opponents (all favor additional funding for student organizations and improving campus diversity and inclusion), there were some disagreements.

During the vice presidential debate, a student submitted an online question that asked whether the candidates would support placing standing desks in the library as part of a health-improvement initiative. Ms. Coxe, pointing to a study and student support for the move, suggested that standing desks could have potential health benefits. She said that she would support the addition of standing desks in the library.

Offering a different take, Mr. Harris cited a study that found no correlation between standing desks and improved health. However, Mr. Harris said that he was open to helping students identify more places to study while standing in the library, if there was sufficient demand.

Perhaps the most introspective question of the evening came via email from current SBA President Taaj Reaves ’16. Ms. Reaves asked the candidates for president to discuss a time when they “didn’t get it right this year on SBA,” and how they would recover and manage losses next year.

Ms. Serre reflected on a time during her term as treasurer when she funded an event retroactively, something the SBA typically doesn’t do, because she overlooked the date of the budget request. While she defended the expense as something that “should have been funded” on the merits, she said the error taught her to focus more closely on the minute details. And that, as president, she would be sure to stay on top on the small issues as well as the big picture.

Responding to the same question, Mr. Shepherd commented on an occasion where he elected to host a Bar Review at a venue discouraged by the Office of Student Affairs. Not fully appreciating the prescience of this advice, the event yielded avoidable logistical challenges. Mr. Shepherd said he learned to more readily rely on the experience of others in order to avoid mistakes. But, when mistakes are made, to take responsibility and never repeat them.

Asked for her thoughts following last night’s first-ever SBA debate, Ms. Coxe replied by email, saying, “The debate, hosted by The Commentator, is something that should happen every year. It is a great way for students to voice their opinions, to have candidates speak about the prevalent issues and concerns within the NYU Law community, and for the student body to become more informed about each candidate’s platform and vision. With an effort to increase attendance in the coming years, the debate should certainly be an annual tradition during election week!”

“The debate was an incredible event, thanks to everyone who came out and The Commentator for hosting—I hope after hearing our ideas, Sam and I have your vote,” said Mr. Shepherd.

In an emailed, joint statement from Ms. Serre and Mr. Harris, the candidates said, “We were glad to have the opportunity to highlight how we’ll serve the student body over the next year in a public forum like this! With [Ms. Serre’s] experience on SBA over the last two years, and George’s close connection with the Class of 2018, we think we can do a lot of great work for NYU Law students. We want to thank The Commentator again for all of the hard work behind the debate!”

Each candidate was allowed a two-minute opening statement. They were then presented with questions compiled by the editorial board of The Commentator, as well as questions submitted to The Commentator via social media, email, and an online survey. Candidates were not given the questions beforehand, but were notified of the general debate topics in an article posted to The Commentator’s website last week. Elections are today and tomorrow via online balloting.

Editor’s note: As a recognized student organization, The Commentator is funded by the Student Bar Association. Naeem Crawford-Muhammad is a current class representative and is running unopposed for Student Senator, an SBA executive board position.