People go to law school for different reasons. We all came to this particular law school for different reasons, and that really shapes what we value in a Dean. We’ve found ourselves in an exciting place - as current students and future alumni, we have the opportunity to participate in a decision that is made only every 5 years. It’s crucial that we make the most of it!
The Dean’s Appointment Committee is composed of 9 members, each with one vote, and a Dean is selected by simple majority vote after a 5 month selection process. The fact that there is only one JD student position shouldn’t reflect in any way that there should only be one set of priorities brought to the Committee. The role of the JD student rep is to represent the entire constituency. Having spoken to many of you, I’ve found that we’re concerned about a full range of things: reputation, tuition, commitment to community, faculty hiring and dismissal practices, admissions. These are our priorities, and we need to better understand them so we can bring a full perspective to the table.
The first order of business for the committee is to create a set of selection criteria with which to assess the candidates. The next is to interview a short-list and to organize opportunities for students to meet the candidates. The last is to vote. Every step is an opportunity for us to be involved.
If elected, my priority would be to find out what we as students want in a Dean, and to make sure that the student consultation process is one that works for you. That may involve well crafted surveys, town halls or opportunities for open dialogue. Having spoken to several of you, I’ve found that many of you want some opportunity to be involved in the process (a survey, a few meetings), but would ultimately want to elect someone who you can trust to be diligent and conscientious. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve found that many of you want a representative who will provide the opportunity to think critically about the identity and long-term direction of the law school, and engage strongly with the process. Both are so valid. I want to make sure that you have the chance to participate as fully as you would like, while representing your interests equally regardless of your level of involvement.
Why would I be a good candidate to represent the student contingency? The first reason is that I care a lot about the quality of our education, and of our law school. During my first year I took every opportunity to participate in curriculum review, and I submitted suggestions for how student engagement in the process could be improved. I also participated in the student feedback process for the interviewing of a new criminal law faculty candidate. When Maxine Matilpi was dismissed I wrote a letter to the VP Academic and Provost expressing my concerns with the dismissal, and its ramifications on student wellbeing. If you’d like to see that letter or the response I received, I’d be happy to share it with you. As JD student rep, I would ensure there’s a strong voice representing the full student perspective.
The second is that I have a lot of experience setting meetings, facilitating discussions, collecting feedback, organizing information and managing the communication of that process. During my undergraduate degree I was the Finance and Operations Director of a not for profit organization, and my portfolio included the management of several different working groups. In addition to facilitating student consultation, I would keep everyone apprised of the selection process, report on major milestones, maintain a thorough record of consultation that students can access, and make myself available to provide information and to take comments and suggestions seriously. I’d set up a website to house all of this information, so you can access it when it’s convenient for you. I would also have a mailing list that you can opt into or out of, so you can stay updated without being flooded.
The third is that I intend to commit to this position. For student representation to be meaningful, it will involve a lot of commitment from the student representative, and I am no stranger to commitment. This position would be a priority in my schedule, and I intend to spend a significant amount of time reading surveys, attending meetings, facilitating discussions, answering questions, and doing everything that is necessary to represent students fully.
And as for who I am, I’m a second year law student who did her undergraduate degree in environmental biology at Queen’s University. I’m from Waterloo, Ontario, and during law school I also volunteer as a Sexual Assault Response Worker with the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Centre. Most of my past employment has been in a range of not for profits, and I came to UVic law because I was looking for a small, community focused school that would be supportive and collegial. I’m happy to say that I’ve found a great fit! Some of my favourite things include landscape photography, practicing yoga and eating fried chicken.
Let’s make the most of this opportunity! If this is an approach that fits with your vision for the Dean’s appointment process, I would really appreciate your vote for JD Student Representative on the Dean’s Appointment Committee. Voting takes place online, from this Thursday August 16 to next Wednesday August 22. I hope to work with you in the months to come!