If you've been with me here on this blog for the past 3 years, then you probably recall the amount of bitching I did that our law school had ZERO interest in promoting our pretty much non-existent international law program. The problem with this is that on paper, it looked like we had a stellar program, such as having tons of international course listings in the bulletin (which hadn't been offered in over 5 years, but they don't mention that). We offer a joint degree program in law and international relations (a top 20 IR program, in fact), only to have the law school not even offer any international classes, or at least not enough to fulfill the grad school requirements. There was no study abroad program. There was previously an international moot court team, but it had been scrapped. Our international law professor went to go clerk for a SCOTUS justice, and we didn't offer international law for two years because we didn't replace him. And did anyone care? Nope.
Not being one of those annoying people who just sits back and bitches about something but doesn't take any action, I took action. (And bitched too, but I think bitching is okay if you're also working towards change.) I caused a stink about the course offerings and got nowhere. We got "international environmental law," which was pretty much just "environmental law," and was quite possibly the most boring class ever. As dry as the readings were, the professor kicked the boring up a notch. After much bitching about the unfairness of it all, the graduate school ended up having to take Administrative Law as an international law credit. Yeah, WTF?
There was the epic fail of the international arbitration moot, a program we'd participated in for years as a law school, until the law school cut the program. We wanted to reinstitute it and raise the money ourselves, and the interim dean shit a brick. We weren't allowed to ask for money from, well, anybody on planet earth, because that's money that those people would obviously give directly to the law school otherwise. (Yeah, right. You're not getting another penny of my money, so suck it.) We were gonna do it anyway, and pay our own way, particularly since we'd already written the first brief, but about that time, the economic apocalypse hit, and my teammate decided she couldn't afford to go since, well, she didn't have a job anymore and she also got hit with some unexpected medical bills. It was a huge disappointment, but what are you supposed to do when you aren't even allowed to fundraise?
In addition, a few of us had tried the study abroad thing. The provost was willing to waive the cost of tuition (a big deal) for the creation of new study abroad programs at the university, and the only cost to the students would be combined with room/board/travel and the professor's salary/room/board/travel. Significantly cheaper than the cost of summer school tuition for law students. The response from the law school dean's office was "whatever, so long as it doesn't cost us any money, just don't bother us." The problem is, trying to coordinate that as a student is nearly impossible. When the dean of a law school calls you, versus Random Law Student, you're more apt to take it seriously. No one wanted to do business with us, the available schools we wanted said they already host study abroad programs, and there's this whole document full of rules and regulations the ABA requires in creating a new program. It was apparent we had to either hook up with another school's existing program, or it wasn't going to happen. And that wasn't something we as students could facilitate.
Which is exactly why Mediocre Law School finally has its own study abroad program, since we got a new dean this past year. I guess having a dean who gives a crap about international studies (which he should, considering it's one of the biggest initiatives coming from the university) makes the difference. So, I feel vindicated, even if none of these accomplishments happened on my watch, or even because of anything I did. I just feel like someone heard us finally, someone saw what we saw, which was a huge waste of brilliant potential.
Of course, I'm also a little bitter, because there is no reason why this all couldn't have been done years ago. Why the interim deans were more concerned with fundraising for the new law building that still has yet to break ground, than doing something for the current students that paid tuition and had nothing to show for it. It's aggravating, but at least it's good to know that the future will be better. Even if I never got to study abroad in England for a semester.