One of the self-imposed duties that comes with the job is attending the dinner we give to welcome first-year students. If that sentence sounds as if the dinner isn’t something I look forward to, well consider these facts:
- The dinner consumes scarce and expensive baby-sitting resources (my wife and I both teach at UM; we both feel we have to go)
- The preprandial cocktail party is held outdoors at one of the most oppressive and sweltering times of the year
- I am always the designated driver and thus the open bar is just adding insult to injury
- I have to smile a lot
- I don’t teach any first year classes, so many students seem disappointed to meet me, focused as they are on what they fear is an upcoming first-year ordeal .
This year was no exception as to points 1-4, but very different on point 5: a surprising number of incoming students had found this blog, so they seemed happy to put a face to the rants.
And I happened to sit with some extraordinary students at dinner.
- A Romanian (from Transylvania, no less), with a philosophy Ph.D from Stanford, supervised by Richard Rorty
- An American fresh back from working in Niger
- A Polish-born American who recently resigned a commission in US Army intelligence (in part, he said, because the failure to prosecute commanders for recent atrocities — an absence of command responsibility — suggested a failure among our leaders to hew to the ideals he had been taught he was serving).
KhazakstaniKazakhstani national here on a Fullbright whose English is flawless
And these were not our international LL.M. students, who are always wonderfully experienced and diverse. These are a random sample of our J.D. students.
One could have quite a bit of fun teaching in a place full of students like that…