Monday, March 28, 2005

Candidate Statement: Nick Napolitan

Nicholas Napolitan
ACS Board Candidate—Vice President, Practitioner Relations
Statement of Interest

I am asked why I am interested in serving on the ACS board. I feel like I have to answer this question in two parts: why I want to be a board member for the ACS (instead of just a member), and why I want to be a board member for the ACS (instead of somewhere else). First, I want to be a board member for the ACS because I like to organize and I do it well. I want to see the group thrive, and I think that I can lend a skilled hand. I work best if I have responsibilities, and I enjoy working with others to make things happen. I enjoyed being a 1L board rep, I have done a lot in terms of event planning and brainstorming, and I want to keep it up.
Why the ACS? The ACS is still a young organization, and this is evident in a lot of what this chapter does—namely in the character of the group and the scale of the events. This is a progressive organization in a left leaning school in a liberal city. Growth, or at least development, will come easily. The question is, growth into what? The mission and guiding vision behind the organization go a long way in differentiating us, on paper, from the various complimentary groups at the law school, but in terms of events, speakers, and general character, we are still struggling to find some kind of niche. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that we currently exist as a bunch of anonymous member, with the occasional board meeting or speaker, and a flurry of e-mails and blog posts to keep us entertained. This stuff is great, but it doesn’t make for a unique presence at the Law School. Without something more, a behind-the-scenes connection with a savvy national organization doesn’t cut it.
There are a number of ways that the ACS could give the law school something that it doesn’t already have. First, I would very much like to see the ACS could create a sort of discussion group think-tank lunch thing. I am thinking specifically of the election recap from last November, which involved a quick, 10 minute presentation by Olati Johnson, and was followed by the best discussion that the ACS has produced all year. This kind of event, if held on a regular basis, would be a great way to give meaning to general membership in the Columbia chapter of the ACS beyond a nice sticker and a water bottle. I’ve headed discussion organizations in the past, and I think that such an activity would be a great compliment to the Columbia chapter of the ACS.
Second, I think that the ACS is in a unique position to identify and develop progressive constitutional issues in a depoliticized context. Our existence does not need to be as a foil to the Federalist Society. Debate is a great way of identifying those crucial points of impasse that make us disagree, but discussion is a better way of building consensus and actually finding a plausible basis for progressive policy. To my knowledge, we have only addressed conservative groups in the context of debate. A constitution should facilitate social agreement, and a Constitutional Society (call me crazy) should make building agreement at least a secondary goal. I am interested in hosting not just debates (which are still fun), but also roundtables in the future. A shift in context might go a long way.
I look forward to seeing where the organization goes in the coming years, and I am excited by the wealth of possibilities. I hope to see the organization develop a unique character and new role in the law school—something that will add a unique voice to the academic discourse, as well as a unique experience to law school.

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