Saturday, April 15, 2006

On or Off Campus?

On or Off Campus?

I can't help but compare, repeatedly in my head, the undergraduates at this university to cockroaches. They refuse to be quiet, go inside, or be sober. It is now 2am, and the parties in the neighborhood are still going strong. I wonder if I was this annoying when I was an undergrad? Granted, I attended a similarly large public school, but I think we were decidedly more academic and entirely less inebriated.

Given the distracting state of the undergraduate population, this got me to thinking about whether law schools are better off being situated on campus. My old law school, while part of a greater university, had its own campus at least 1/2 mile from the main campus. My new law school, while encompassing its own city block, is adjacent to the main campus.

During class this week I had to present my final project on a day that just so happened to be one of the first really warm days of spring. The fraternity across the street from the law school decided to start blasting Notorious B.I.G. two minutes into my presentation, and of course the professor didn't bat an eyelash and expected me to continue seamlessly. Meanwhile, the other students in the class started bumping and grinding to the music, while I proceeded to trace Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence at the turn of the twentieth century.

Flash forward to this evening, and the undergrads keep taking shots on their front porch, while singing loudly and drunkenly to Journey. I would have thought Journey would be a bit old for current undergrads, but then again I suppose it shows how music transcends generations.

So, should law schools be situated on or off the main university? In large urban centers like Chicago, Washington, DC, Boston or New York, I suppose it doesn't really make a difference. Students there don't tend to live right on-campus anyway, and you have more that commute to school. But in more rural university towns removing the law school to far corners of the city might help students focus. Granted, I don't know how many times I had to trudge to one of the other campus libraries for a source for an article I was dealing with on the journal this year.

I think when I was at my old law school, I missed the buzz of academia in the air that being part of a greater university community brings to the mix. I missed walking across a campus, seeing the various disciplines represented, and feeling like I was part of a greater whole.

So, while my apartment is a mere five minutes walk away from the law school, I think I am going to have to throw in the towel, stop battling with the drunken undergrads, and move away from campus. Every five minutes I think about going out there in my pink polka dot pajamas and asking them to please, for the love of God, just go to sleep. Goodbye five minute walk, hello commuting and parking issues. The things we put up with for a good night's sleep.

I haven't even mentioned my downstairs neighbor who loves to wait until 3am to blast music -- just when I am hitting that good part of REM sleep (what he does until that time, I will never know). But I'll save that for another midnight post.

Isolation or drunken communion --- which is worse?

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