Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Class Elections

The problem with accusing others of overachieving is that you run the risk of sounding like (1) a condescending bastard and/or (2) an underachieving lay-about. I mean, I’m in law school, and I’m working my ass off, so I’m fairly certain I’m not a great example of the second. But I’m probably the former.

I don’t mind saying it: I think student government is silly. It’s an educational exercise in the same capacity as a Model United Nations, except without the accompanying geography lessons. I’m heading into my last year of law school, and I’m still expected to pretend that student elections have more to do with leadership ability and less to do with how many references to “Borat” one can cram onto a campaign poster. It smacks of little more than a popularity contest, with the grand prize being another line on your résumé.

Dear Reader, if you’re presently crying foul because all elections are, at base, popularity contests: you’re correct. But let’s distinguish between the popularity of a candidate’s ideas and the popularity of the movie that the candidate associates himself with. While a standard sheet of A4 paper probably lacks sufficient room to convey your vision about meeting the political challenges facing your law school class, there is probably just enough room to cram “I come from Kazakhstan!” in 72 point Comic Sans.

Additionally, there is more solace to be had in the fact that there really aren’t any political challenges to be met by a student government. To be certain, administering a school is a difficult task, and takes years of experience in managing a team of hundreds of faculty, coordinating various departments, and other feats of academic adroitness that I can’t even imagine. Luckily, the school has people who have been specifically trained and hired for just such an occasion: school administrators.

The student government is not wholly without task, however. Even the most hardened micromanagers among school administrators can see the value of giving the students some autonomy. Let the students handle the decision about what kind of pizza the cafeteria should serve on Fridays, who should be in charge of painting the banners for the pep rally, and what the playlist should be for the homecoming dance. (Subject to the administrators’ approval, of course; kids these days listen to the most vulgar things.) It’ll make them feel like they’re all grown up.

And now that we’re in law school, I’m sure the student government has been charged with resolving dilemmas of even greater importance. There are fundraisers to be held, and charities to support, and even a law school prom to organize.

sidebar: Yes, law schools have proms. Really. I’m not making that up.

I mean, I suppose it all shows an interest in those fabled extracurricular activities that we’re all told employers care so much about. And student government likely falls within the definition of the word “extracurricular,” as it’s not part of your classroom instruction. For even more employer appeal bonus points, a role in student government could demonstrate an interest in taking charge and managing a team. That would come in handy if your future law firm is considering having a bake sale. (Insert your favorite Jay Leno open-mic night joke about how “it’s a recession, folks!” here)

My rambling mockery of student government was brought on, Dear Reader, by the fact that not one but two students running for student government positions brought cupcakes to give out on election day. Cupcakes. Yes. Like in that movie where Matthew Broderick is a pedophile teacher.

For the record, I’m not hating on the players. I’m hating on the game. (See Marrow v. Warner Music Group) If you’re mortgaging your future to be able to afford law school, the only rational decision is to squeeze every drop of life experience out of it before you’re flung out into the real world to hang your shingle.

But boy, the game is silly.