Monday, April 20, 2009

Columbia ACS Board Election -- Candidates Statements

President

Ron Balfour
Certainly everyone running for ACS board is dedicated both to the cause and the organization. However, I bring two unique things to the table. The first is experience. As a 1L representative I have seen first hand how the organization runs and created important contacts. For example, I *already* have two professors who are committed and eager to speak to the Columbia ACS community this fall about criminal justice issues. The second thing I bring is a creative vision for where ACS goes from here. While I'm proud of what we've done as an organization this year, I think we might be too over-reliant on the "lunchtime debate" event format. Though other events are less conventional, I think ACS is the kind of organization that can and should be pushing the envelope. While my attempts at "open forum discussions" about issues and movie nights haven't gained the kind of traction I'd hoped for, I think I've now had enough experience that I could make these kinds of things happen, if given the opportunity. I think this kind of creativity is important if we want to prevent ACS from degenerating into just another unsolicited email for free pizza lunch; I like free pizza as much as anybody, but ACS can, should, and, with a little creativity, WILL be more than just that.

Taylor Kirklin
I would like to provide leadership for the Columbia ACS chapter because I have both an intellectual interest and personal commitment to the goals of the organization. During the past year, I served as a 1L representative on the ACS board. In this position, I planned several speaker events, including a recap of the 2008 Presidential election and a lunch event focusing on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. As President, I would continue to expand ACS’s membership and involvement in the CLS community, both through regular social events and lunch events on topical constitutional issues. I would also like to plan events with ACS student groups at other law schools in the area, so that we can meet and network with other New York students with interests similar to ours.

Vice-President

Ron Balfour
Please see my statement for President; I believe the same more or less applies here. I am absolutely dedicated to ACS and will use the skills I mentioned in that statement to improve the organization reagrdless of my position on the board.

Alexandra Briggs
I am running for a board position with the Columbia Law School chapter of the American Constitutional Society because of my beliefs in individual rights protected by the Constitution of the United States. My interest in the role that protected individual liberties play in the United States was sparked during high school when a klu klux clan rally took place near the boarding school I attended. I was outraged by the appearance and the demonstration and found it hard to believe that such individuals still existed. As I pondered it more, however, I began to think about how the freedom every individual has to express her opinions allows a constant discussion and dichotomy throughout the country. And while I may often feel horrified with an individuals personal beliefs, it is more important that they are given the freedom and allowance to express those opinions. Since that time in high school I have become increasingly aware of how important individual liberties are and the important role they play in this country’s history and future.

I have also become more keenly aware of how often these rights and liberties are threatened today. This became especially vivid in Constituional Law when I read Hamdi, and the threat he faced of being detained indeterminately without a right of habeas corpus and a possible utter failure of due process.

It is these beliefs that have motivated me to run for a position on the board of the Columbia Law School chapter of ACS.

Taylor Kirklin
While serving as a 1L representative on the ACS board over the past year, I gained experience working with other members of the board to coordinate events for the organization. As Vice President I would be well equipped to provide support to the President and other board members in planning the group’s events.

Events Chair

Ron Balfour
Obviously the discussion of creativity in event planning that I talked about in my statement for President is particularly relevant here. Moreover, I think we have some work to do in terms of publicity for events. While we're pretty good at sending out emails for events, we've been less good at flyering and have almost entirely neglected the use of facebook events (though I did have a facebook event for my "Roger & Me" event). Again, I think the creative element is of fundamental importance.

Alexandra Briggs
I am running for a board position with the Columbia Law School chapter of the American Constitutional Society because of my beliefs in individual rights protected by the Constitution of the United States. My interest in the role that protected individual liberties play in the United States was sparked during high school when a klu klux clan rally took place near the boarding school I attended. I was outraged by the appearance and the demonstration and found it hard to believe that such individuals still existed. As I pondered it more, however, I began to think about how the freedom every individual has to express her opinions allows a constant discussion and dichotomy throughout the country. And while I may often feel horrified with an individuals personal beliefs, it is more important that they are given the freedom and allowance to express those opinions. Since that time in high school I have become increasingly aware of how important individual liberties are and the important role they play in this country’s history and future.

I have also become more keenly aware of how often these rights and liberties are threatened today. This became especially vivid in Constituional Law when I read Hamdi, and the threat he faced of being detained indeterminately without a right of habeas corpus and a possible utter failure of due process.

It is these beliefs that have motivated me to run for a position on the board of the Columbia Law School chapter of ACS.

Taylor Kirklin
I have planned several events for ACS the past year and am familiar with the process for organizing speakers, making room and food arrangements, and handling other logistics for the group’s activities.

Michael Overmyer
My name is Michael Overmyer and I’d like to be the Events chair next year. I’ve been involved in ACS this year mainly through the moot court team. I’ve also worked to further progressive goals outside of ACS, including volunteering to teach middle-school students about environmental justice and going to Virginia on the Law School Democrats trip in November to campaign door-to-door and work the polls as an election monitor. I have a lot of experience in event planning. In college I ran a student journal on international affairs that published articles by academics. We would organize a forum bringing together some of the authors from each issue to come to campus and discuss their articles. We also hosted a more high-profile speaker once a year, and this included working with speakers agencies and organizing receptions. Last year I was at SIPA (as part of the joint-degree program) and I worked part time at Columbia’s East Asian Institute, where I helped organize and publicize their events. I think the ACS events this year have been really interesting and I’d like to continue to arrange similar talks by professors and practitioners. I’d also be interested in organizing more social events—maybe arranging for a group to go watch a taping of the Daily Show or Colbert. I would also like to try to organize more social events with ACS chapters at other New York law schools.

Finance Chair

Helen Mayer
I got involved with ACS during my 1L year as Assistant to the Finance Chair. I (not surprisingly) helped our current Finance Chair with his duties and served as an active member of the organization. I hope to continue and broaden my involvement with ACS next year as your Finance Chair!

Taylor Kirklin
I am familiar with ACS’s financial procedures, including the process for obtaining funds and the balancing of the group budget.

Michael Overmyer
My name is Michael Overmyer and I’d like to be the Finance chair next year. I’ve been involved in ACS this year mainly through the moot court team. I’ve also worked to further progressive goals outside of ACS, including volunteering to teach middle-school students about environmental justice and going to Virginia on the Law School Democrats trip in November to campaign door-to-door and work the polls as an election monitor. I have a lot of skills and experiences that I think will make me an effective finance chair. First, I’ve taken an accounting course. Second, in college I ran a student publication with a $10,000 annual budget. I was responsible for securing funding from various academic departments, the university president’s office, and the provost’s office. This required drafting a comprehensive budget plan outlining the publications goal and projected expenses. I also paid the publisher and arranged compensation for travel expenses for out-of-town speakers. Finally, when I was working before law school, I helped in drafting my unit’s budget proposal. I think these experiences give me a good background for serving as ACS’s finance chair next year.

Media Chair

Michael Overmyer
My name is Michael Overmyer and I’d like to be the Media chair next year. I’ve been involved in ACS this year mainly through the moot court team. I’ve also worked to further progressive goals outside of ACS, including volunteering to teach middle-school students about environmental justice and going to Virginia on the Law School Democrats trip in November to campaign door-to-door and work the polls as an election monitor. I think I have a lot of skills that would be make a good media chair. I’ve previously worked reporting on Congressional hearings and policy speeches, so I have a lot of experience applicable to writing and editing the stories on the blog about ACS events. I’d like to see the website and blog become more active, perhaps with more student-written opinion pieces. Recruiting students to write short (200 – 500 word) posts could be a great way to get more students involved in the chapter. Though I’m not an HTML expert, I did help with the redesign of the website of one of the places I’ve worked at, and I’m confident I can manage maintaining the website and learning anything I don’t know. I also have some friends in the local freelance web design community who may be able to help in making the website and blog more visually dynamic.

External Relations Chair

Ron Balfour
For this position, I think my experience as a 1L representative is particularly relevant. I am comfortable going out into the community (or the virtual community via email) and representing ACS because I've gotten my feet wet doing it this year. Of course, for any good representative, brevity is of utmost importance. :)

Alexandra Briggs
I am running for a board position with the Columbia Law School chapter of the American Constitutional Society because of my beliefs in individual rights protected by the Constitution of the United States. My interest in the role that protected individual liberties play in the United States was sparked during high school when a klu klux clan rally took place near the boarding school I attended. I was outraged by the appearance and the demonstration and found it hard to believe that such individuals still existed. As I pondered it more, however, I began to think about how the freedom every individual has to express her opinions allows a constant discussion and dichotomy throughout the country. And while I may often feel horrified with an individuals personal beliefs, it is more important that they are given the freedom and allowance to express those opinions. Since that time in high school I have become increasingly aware of how important individual liberties are and the important role they play in this country’s history and future.

I have also become more keenly aware of how often these rights and liberties are threatened today. This became especially vivid in Constituional Law when I read Hamdi, and the threat he faced of being detained indeterminately without a right of habeas corpus and a possible utter failure of due process.

It is these beliefs that have motivated me to run for a position on the board of the Columbia Law School chapter of ACS.

Taylor Kirklin
I have experience organizing events with academics and attorneys outside of the law school for ACS events. Additionally, I think it would be useful to organize events with ACS student groups at other law schools in New York.

Lisa Knox
I am running for External Relations Chair. As a 1L board
representative for ACS, I have seen what a great job the organization
does of arranging speaking events for students. However, I think that
an area in which students would like to see more activity is in
interaction with practitioners and other law schools. To that end, I
would like to serve as External Relations Chair in order to expand
ACS' activities outside of the law school, including getting a
mentorship program off the ground that could link CLS students to ACS'
national network of progressive lawyers in the City and beyond.

Michael Overmyer
My name is Michael Overmyer and I’d like to be the External Relations chair next year. I’ve been involved in ACS this year mainly through the moot court team. I’ve also worked to further progressive goals outside of ACS, including volunteering to teach middle-school students about environmental justice and going to Virginia on the Law School Democrats trip in November to campaign door-to-door and work the polls as an election monitor. I think I’d be an effective external relations chair for several reasons. First, I’m not shy about picking up the phone and calling someone or sending an e-mail to try to get a conversation started. Second, when I was working before law school, a lot of what I did was liaising with other organizations. I have several ideas of what I’d like to do if elected to be external relations chair. I think it would be great to organize more frequent events with ACS chapters at the other New York law schools, and maybe even try to build up a network between ACS chapters throughout the region. Building these ties with ACS students at other schools would be very helpful for maintaining a progressive network throughout our careers after law school. I also think there’s a lot to be gained from increasing our ties to practitioners. For example, I think the ACS Columbia chapter could be a conduit for connecting ACS students looking to fulfill their pro bono requirement to ACS lawyers at local public interest groups. Similarly, I would also like to explore the possibility of students fulfilling their pro bono requirement by working with ACS lawyers at firms who are handling progressive cases on a pro bono basis.

3L Representative

Kate Sauser
I am running for 3L Representative because, after serving as President this past year, I feel like I have valuable information to contribute to next year's board about this chapter's operation and running an organization at Columbia. I hope to continue to serve ACS by planning events, contacting speakers, and improving upon what we did this year. I will also be available to assist board members in anything they might need. I have really enjoyed being a part of ACS and think that the organization is growing more important all the time, and I look forward to staying involved my 3L year and once I graduate. Thanks for your vote!


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