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Law Students’ Society not meeting obligations

There’s everything from the Business Administration Undergraduate Society to the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship to the Nels Anderson Society. The long list of UNB’s active clubs and societies caters to pretty much any interest, program, or field. Amongst them is the Law Students’ Society, or the LSS, headed by President Lee English.

Started in 1923 to promote the installment of new law courses at UNB with the end goal of establishing a law school, the LSS is described as organizing “activities designed to further collegiality in the school.”

Collegiality is a central concept to the proper running of any organization, but especially the university. It’s also a hugely undermined concept at UNB at the moment.

Collegiality is the relationship between colleagues. That relationship is based in the mutual effort to further a shared goal. For a university, that means each one of us is working to promote, further, and produce knowledge.

Whether you’re in arts, business, nursing, or whatever faculty, we are all working towards that one goal: knowledge. It might be knowledge of literature or the knowledge of chemical engineering, but it’s all knowledge.

Now, the LSS doesn’t appear to care about collegiality. They hope to “further” it, yet I suspect that’s more of a nice line than it is an actuality.

I am, however, more convinced that the LSS just doesn’t understand what collegiality is, that they have an entirely skewed understanding of what it means. And it’s not just the executive of the LSS, but the rank and file body.

First, let’s go through what’s happened. Students showed up at a Student Union meeting. The SU is the body that represents students and overlooks clubs and societies. Law representative Josh Toombs passed a motion that made blatant the SU’s support for a student’s right to speak to the media.

It came out at this council meeting that some law students felt the LSS had been making students feel as though they couldn’t comment on the issues at our law school. That not only was the administration saying it was an internal matter, but law students’ own society was urging students to not comment.

Not long after, one need only browse through Twitter to see Lee English vocalize his disappointment in the Bruns. Following that, law students seemed to think the most dignified thing they could do was rail against the Bruns for trying to tell the rest of the university what the hell was going on in law. Check out some of the conversations on Twitter. Savoury.

And this is why the LSS misunderstands collegiality. They seem to think that law is a separate and superior faculty on campus. Collegiality only matters between law students because they aren’t colleagues with the rest of us. No, no. Other faculties and the students in them on campus are nice fixtures to the university. It’s the law school that is truly substantial.

And really it’s not. It’s not superior to other faculties or disciplines on our campus. It is one of many degrees which can be obtained on our campus. Law isn’t unique in being a faculty of stringent hard work. The rest of us do that, too. I have complete respect for law students. I know some amazing law students. My respect for the law school is exactly the same as my respect for every discipline on campus, though.

The thing is, with the current law fiasco, that every person in this province has a right to know what’s happening. The law school is not a vital cornerstone to UNB that we would crumble without. That’s actually the N.B. population. Sure, most people aren’t all that interested — but they still have the right to know what’s going on.

The Bruns made mistakes. We apologized and corrected them. That’s good journalism — admitting when you’re wrong. Fixing mistakes when you make them.

Sure, the law school can have a private meeting. There’s not a huge problem with that. There are private meetings on campus all the time. But there is an obligation for the law school to communicate to the rest of the university and province what is going on. Instead, we know we have a now absent law dean who has a slew of insane accusations against him, Eddy getting yanked away from media, and the LSS thinking they’re Tony Soprano and his thugs.

President Lee English has an obligation to uphold a sense of collegiality at the student level. It’s what his own society purports to do. Instead, he’s obstructing collegiality, interrupting healthy communication between students. He’s inadvertently supporting bad relationships between students and the organizations that support them on campus.

The LSS thinks good collegiality means exclusion. It means shutting everyone else out and saying things are fine. It’s a classic page from the Eddy handbook to leadership and wealth. English is disappointed in the Bruns? Well, there’s plenty of people disappointed with the LSS.

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3 Comments

  1. Ludlow Alumni Reply

    While the thoughts expressed here may have been true in the days immediately following the announcement of the Dean’s leave, my understanding is that the greater public now knows just as much as the law students. Who can we thank for that? None other than the individual being chastised in this very article, Lee English. I suppose we can also thank Terry Seguin, a reputable and respected news source. 

    -UNB Law Alumni

  2. UNB Grad Student Reply

    This article is disappointing. As the partner of a law student who has been keeping me up to date with what students know about this “fiasco,” the general public knows as much about this as the law student body does. Law faculty and administration are keeping students in the dark, and targeting a student who has done nothing but encourage their peers to avoid spreading conjecture is doing NOTHING to promote collegiality and seems to be in fact promoting tensions between faculties. If you’re concerned with collegiality, why not talk to the LSS and hear what their concerns are about this issue and how the allegations against the Dean are affecting students at the law school. This reads like a witch hunt against a student who is understandably stressed out that his suggestions that law students not spread rumors are being stretched to the most outrageous possible extent and is being demanded to inform the entire PROVINCE about something that he has as little information about as the rest of the student body. Just for the record: it’s not the LSS saying that the law school is better than other faculties, administration is telling the students that to placate them while keeping them in the dark. Being deliberately inflammatory is not helping faculties gain a sense of community here.

  3. UNBLawStudent Reply

    As a current law student and avid reader of the Brunswickan, this editorial is disappointing and not up to the paper’s usual standards. As someone who attended the meeting with Dr Campbell it was clear to me that the intent in asking students to not talk to the media was to stop rampant and uninformed speculation that was potentially damaging to the faculty and to the law student body.  While it is understandably concerning that some UNB law students felt that they were unable to freely express their opinions on the current situation within the law faculty, the issue was immediately addressed by the Law Students’ Society and has now been clarified.  It is decidedly not the sense within the law student body that students are being silenced by the LSS.  
    The LSS has done an excellent job dealing with the issues that itcan effectively address including class cancellations and missing term marks; neither it nor any other student society can force the University to disclose the reasons behind a leave of absence which is a contractual matter between the University and one of its employees.  In the year and a half I have been a student at UNB Law the LSS is both eager to act in the interests of UNB Law students and, perhaps more importantly, to seek feedback and improve when individuals are unhappy with the actions it has taken.  What the LSS cannot do is get UNB to reveal private contractual matters between Dr Levitt and the University.  

    As for the author’s rant against the LSS and UNB law students for being arrogant and suppressing the press, it is largely unfounded.  Criticism of the Brunswickan’s coverage of the current issues is simply part of the marketplace of ideas that makes up freedom of speech within a healthy democracy. Just as the Brunswickan has every right to heartily pursue this story, others should feel free to push back when the coverage is incomplete, misleading, or incorrect.  When a reporter from the student paper describes a student calmly but forcefully asking a question as “shouting” or says the meeting was “heated”, it is entirely legitimate for those in attendance to point out the paper’s errors. It is the job of the press to ask tough questions, find out the facts, and inform the public.  When this duty is ignored, either through malice, incompetence, or (most likely) simply making a mistake, it is not “rail[ing] against the Bruns” to attempt to correct the record.

    As the issues within the faculty come to light, it is important for the administration to make public what information they can but also for the student press to do an accurate job reporting on that information.  To some extent the Brunswickan has done this; Mark Mancini’s editorial yesterday was excellent and the paper’s coverage of the accusations against Dr Levitt was apparently accurate. In criticizing the LSS for seeking restraint in uninformed speculation to the media, not mentioning the clarification from the LSS  to the law student body regarding the call for restraint, and by accusing UNB law students of thinking they are “superior” to other UNB students, this paper has done a disservice to the UNB community and betrayed its long history of excellent reporting.

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