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Wednesday
Apr222015

SBA elections prepare the organization for a new year

The results are in! After the election on March 26, 2L Rachel Morris and 1L Sandor Callahan are the new Student Bar Association President and Day Vice President, respectively. 2E James Danford won the position of Evening Vice President, 2E Adrienne Beaudoin is the new Secretary, and 2L Brad Paraszczak is the new Treasurer. 

In an interview with the Law Weekly, Callahan said: “I’ve already started working!” In response to complaints about the availability of microwaves on campus, he said he has worked with the administration to post maps showing where microwaves are available for students on campus. While this may seem like a small or insignificant issue, he emphasized that any improvement to the student experience is important to him.

Callahan is also interested in working with the administration to reduce printing costs for students. “I think one of the issues the administration might have is seeing where the current profits go from the printing,” he said. “It’s common knowledge that our endowment isn’t that large, and while we’ve been growing and have been doing a great job in raising it, we have to be careful.”

Callahan noted that he personally values SBA’s role in building a community. His time in the Peace Corps, where he was stationed in China’s Guizhou Province, helped solidify this ambition. In addition to his role as vice president, he will also be serving as a Resident Fellow in the Gewirz Student Center next year, giving him a chance to further shape and foster the Georgetown Law community. 

The campaigns lasted two weeks, and the battle for ballots took place both across social media tools, such as Facebook and Snapchat, as well as throughout the Georgetown Law student body socially. Morris ran her campaign alongside Paraszczak, one of the first people she met at school. She also noted that she has spoken to her former opponent, 2L Micah Fielden, and has plans to pursue some of the ideas he raised during the campaign.

In her platform, Morris states that she wants “[t]o increase collaboration across the Law Center through working with student org leaders, journals, individual students, and the administration.” Specifically, she stated that “students can look forward to expanded programming like Ditch the District, improvements in services provided by the law center, and more collaboration across the school.” The Ditch the District program is a series of trips that takes students outside of the law school environment for a weekend.

Student life improvements, like providing coffee and hot drinks along with increased transparency in grade returns, course evaluations and faculty hiring, are on the agenda as well. Morris also expressed a desire to improve the experience for students on nonstandard paths. According to her platform statement, Morris “would like to ensure that all students have an excellent experience while at Georgetown Law. Many students already have this. However, there is room for improvement, particularly when it comes to LLMs, transfer students, evening students, and students with diverse backgrounds.”

Morris and Callahan will lead a cadre of 26 delegates starting at the SBA meeting on April 14, with more to be added from the new sections in the autumn.   

Thursday
Apr022015

April Fool's Day 2015 brings a collection of joke stories

Thursday
Mar192015

Hoya madness: room for a breakout?

To many members of the Georgetown community, the news that the Hoyas were seeded fourth in one of the weaker groupings (Duke, the #1 seed in Georgetown’s grouping, has both good wins and shocking losses) was great – a nice chance to watch Georgetown beat up a weak team before going on to play some more difficult games.

For other fans, however, it might bring up a dreaded sense of déjà vu.

In the past 6 years, including this year, Georgetown has been seeded five times in the NCAA tournament, and every time has been seeded sixth or higher, generally reflecting the prestige of Georgetown and the Big East. In 2010, Georgetown, a #3 seed, lost to Ohio University (not Ohio State University) 93-87, despite being led by future first round center Greg Monroe. In 2011, Georgetown, seeded 6th, lost to Virginia Commonwealth University, survivor of the first “First Four” in tournament history, 74-56. In 2012, Georgetown, seeded 3rd, actually managed to beat its first round opponent, Belmont, 74-59. It promptly lost to North Carolina State, the 11th seed, 66-63. Finally, in 2013, in perhaps the most infamous of the upsets, Georgetown, a #2 seed, lost to Florida Gulf Coast University, 78-68, in the first round.

Combined with losing to Davidson during its run with Stephen Curry (despite Georgetown having both Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green), Georgetown has managed to play the unwitting Fairy Godmother to the most famous recent tournament Cinderellas. Thus, it is no surprise that Georgetown has already become a popular choice to flameout in the first round, to Eastern Washington, and very few prognosticators have Georgetown getting past #5 Utah in the second round.

Is there anything that distinguishes this team from the teams that failed to escape the first weekend of the tournament? Looking at the talent of the older teams is not helpful – teams manned by Greg Monroe and Otto Porter both lost in the first round. Relative success in the Big East Tournament has not proven a useful predictor either – the 2010 team made a run to the Big East Finals before losing to Ohio.

One major difference is that virtually all of the players have changed since that time. Of the starters playing against FGCU in 2013, only Jabril Trawick and Mikael Hopkins remain. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, a key bench player in 2013, has become a leader of the team this year, along with transfer Joshua Smith. Smith might make a difference – in 2013, surprisingly for Georgetown, the Hoyas lacked a traditional center, instead playing with a combination of Nate Lubick and Mikael Hopkins awkwardly playing that role.

Georgetown has traditionally found its strength from a sturdy defense, with a slower-paced, deliberate, Princeton-style offense accompanying it. The pattern has proven mostly successful in the regular season, though seems to have come up short in the tournament. After the 2013 loss to FGCU, Coach John Thompson III could not explain the upsets, saying, “I’ve tried to analyze it, think about it, look at it, think about what we should do differently and I don’t know.”

Looking on the other side of the court, the Cinderellas that have beaten Georgetown have taken different forms. VCU is perhaps most famous for its never-ending full court press, and won mostly due to its defense.  On the other hand, Florida Gulf Coast was more well-known for its aggressive offensive play, and became known as “Dunk City” during its tournament run.

Eastern Washington, Georgetown’s first round opponent, is from the Big Sky Conference, a small conference (though so were all of the teams that beat Georgetown, other than NC State). For the most part, rankings don’t treat it kindly, but Eastern Washington did beat Indiana. Additionally, Tyler Harvey, one of Eastern Washington’s players, has scored the most points in college basketball this year, and Eastern Washington is the third-highest scoring team in college basketball. 

Unfortunately for Georgetown, it allows a relatively high number of three-point shots, which Eastern Washington relies on. Thus, unless Georgetown can either make a strategic shift to combat three-point shooting, otherwise disrupt their long-range shots, or count on Eastern Washington to miss more than its average number of three point shots, it could be a long night for Hoyas fans. 

Thursday
Mar122015

Learn everything there is to know about GULC's new saunas

The Law Center’s high-temperature relaxation facilities are set to get a major upgrade. A Student Bar Association (“SBA”) resolution passed February 24 authorized the replacement of the hot tubs in the Sport & Fitness Center locker rooms with saunas.

At a glance, it may seem that the new saunas are simply a move to increase the prestige of the Law Center’s recreation facilities. However, in a campus-wide email, SBA President Andrew Warner wrote that “[O]ur expectation is that the saunas will be more popular with students, easier to maintain, and less expensive to run.”

The resolution, despite being passed by SBA, still requires a final decision from the Law Center’s administration. They are awaiting research on costs and timing. Overall, the gym management company that the Law Center works with has found that other gyms overwhelmingly favor saunas.

The resolution was introduced by SBA Representative Sam Smith on February 10. “I introduced the resolution after talks with folks involved in facilities and student life here at the Law Center,” said Smith. He learned that the current whirlpool hot tubs are well past their expected operational lifespan, causing their maintenance costs to skyrocket. SBA Representative Bryan Almeida said the current hot tub constantly breaks down, and requires expensive special order parts before they can be repaired.

Smith also cited lower operating costs and environmental friendliness in his decision to offer the resolution. 

Saunas and other forms of high-temperature ablution are common worldwide. While the word sauna is Finnish in origin, sauna-like traditions developed in the Americas, Rome, and Turkey as well. Broadly speaking, they work by heating the air, historically using heated coals or stones and pouring water on them to generate steam. The humidity of the bath determines the air temperature, with the driest, hottest Finnish saunas reaching upwards of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The proposal was not without opposition. After being introduced at the February 10 meeting, it was tabled until the February 24 meeting in order to allow Representatives to gather more information. Section 1 Representative David Costello said “[B]oth delegates from Section 1 posted a poll on our Facebook page to gauge our Section’s interest. Based on this Section discussion, both Section 1 delegates voted against the proposal.” 

Costello also expressed surprise at how quickly the resolution was called to question on February 24, ending the debate. “[The] haste with which it was called [to question] caught the delegates who were planning to speak against it off guard.” In the end, the resolution still passed, and the plan moves forward. 

Alongside the sauna issue, SBA overwhelmingly passed a resolution authorizing the creation of a mental health task force.  While mental health for law students is certainly a more pressing and more impactful issue, Smith reinforced the notion that student governments cam tackle issues big and small.  “[The saunas] will likely cut long-term costs and benefit students, both of which are goals of any administration or student government.”

What do you think of the new saunas? Vote in the Law Weekly’s poll here!

Wednesday
Mar042015

Review: GG&SS presents "And Then There Were None"

The Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society brings Christie’s novel to life in Hart Auditorium. Photo by Laura DonnellyGeorgetown Law Weekly’s own had the pleasure last week of seeing Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, directed by Georgetown 2L Alex Bassett. A far cry from the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s tongue-in-cheek production of Spamalot this past fall, the winter show was a gritty murder mystery full of the very twists and turns you would expect from Agatha Christie. From the very beginning, Bassett and company set the stage (literally) with period music and an elaborate set, which placed the audience inside a living room of a house in the 1930s. The set was all the more impressive with the knowledge that it was painstakingly crafted by the show’s own cast of students, alumni and community members.

Standout performances include a marvelous performance of General McKenzie by Dan Snow, who played his character’s ominous predictions to perfection, as well as Amy Reno, who played Emily Brent’s sour and judgmental demeanor to a T.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of the whole show was a most unfortunate stage slap, which could have been seen for miles away. But considering some of the décor featured what appeared to be faux portraits of the distant relatives of Keanu Reeves and Jude Law, perhaps that too was an effective and intentional bit of levity in a dark and ominous show.

Another great aspect of the show was Bassett’s decision to integrate other forms of media into the production. What seemed to be a fan favorite were the title cards projected above the stage that introduced each character as they appeared. The title cards, which appeared on stage to the sound of an old-school type writer, projected from above while the cast froze in place. This addition was just enough to give the audience a casual reminder of the play’s origins, making it seem as if the audience was living in the book without the fourth wall being completely broken. 

All in all, it was another successful production from the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, which brought the audience into the engrossing world of Christie’s 1939 novel of the same name through excellent acting and fascinating twists. We look forward to the next production from the group!

Laura Donnelly contributed to this review.

Wednesday
Feb252015

Court report: what's next for Hoya men's basketball

The Georgetown men’s basketball team’s trajectory is familiar to all those who have followed the Hoyas for the past several years. Georgetown started off relatively underrated, with one player singled out as someone to watch this year (this year, it was D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, voted Big East Player of the Year during the preseason). The season began with a relatively difficult non-conference schedule, with one seemingly impressive win (against Florida, though this is not the Florida of the early 2000s, or even of last year), and several impressive close losses (against Wisconsin and Kansas). 

Then the conference schedule began, and confirming the worst fears of Hoyas fans, it began poorly with a 17-point loss to Xavier. However, Georgetown recovered relatively quickly, and beat then #4 Villanova at home in an easy win, 78-58, and even claimed first place in the Big East, albeit temporarily. 

What trends can be made out of the season so far? Unlike previous years, Georgetown has not (yet - knock on wood) lost a game to a clearly inferior opponent.  In recent years, Georgetown has dropped at least one game to a team with a losing record, including DePaul, South Florida, and Providence (back when Providence was an also-ran, not a contender). Instead, Georgetown has lost to Xavier (twice), Providence (twice), and Villanova. Both of the losses to Providence were close, with one going to overtime.

However, Georgetown’s losses to Xavier, as well as its loss to Villanova, were all by significant margins, well over ten points each. Several similarities emerge between the losses. First, Joshua Smith, who has otherwise displayed the talents that led Georgetown to recruit him from UCLA, has struggled, fouling out in multiple losses. Additionally, Georgetown has failed to consistently score in the beginning of most of the losses. In particular, Smith-Rivera, who leads the team in average minutes, points, assists and steals per game, failed to score in the first half against Villanova.

As would be suspected, Georgetown gave up large shot percentages in the games they lost, with Villanova hitting 50% of 3-point shots and Providence shooting 53.5% overall.

Despite these negative signs, Georgetown still maintains a strong record that should appeal to the selection committee for March Madness. Georgetown lacks any bad losses, with the losses coming to teams that also have strong records. Ironically, Georgetown may hope for Xavier to do well, as Xavier’s record, other than beating Georgetown twice, does not look as strong as Georgetown’s (Xavier has lost to DePaul and Creighton, both of whom are struggling this year). At this point, Georgetown has played most of its toughest games. Thus, Georgetown should ensure that it sweeps St. John’s, positioning itself well for the Big East playoffs, before taking on Butler and Seton Hall to finish off the regular season.