Monthly Archives: February 1990

Construction: the Never Ending Story

“Construction: the Never Ending Story”

Law Street Journal Article (February 1990))

By Randol Schoenberg

Students and faculty returned to a somewhat larger and more comfortable building in January. The first sign of the new thinking that accomplished the expansion was the new student lockers. Everyone now has the luxury of the taller and deeper lockers that previously were only available on a first-come first-serve basis akin to acquisition of title in the old west.

In a stroke of genius, Dean of Students Robert Saltzman assigned specific lockers to all students, thereby avoiding a mad rush that would certainly have rivaled a 1979 Who concert in Cincinnati. Still, there remains some inequity in that all third years and half the second years received top lockers, while the rest had to stoop to the lower ones.

Two weeks later when the workmen had at last finished staining the wood panels, students hurriedly occupied the new student lounge. The ancient chairs and tables give the area an immediate lived-in look. The lounge, which will be named after a large donor, is adjoined by a semi-circular patio which will eventually be equipped with lounge chairs and other outdoor furniture. The designers have dubbed their design the “California Life Style Student Lounge”, noting that only in California could a lounge be partly outdoors. Students have suggested that the patio looks more like a fish bowl. If it were sealed and filled with water it would make a nice aquarium.

Student reactions to the new cafeteria were mixed. Bobby Skorpill said, “I had to wait nearly half an hour for the worst cheeseburger I’ve had in my life.” He conceded that the fries were good, however. Brent Osterstock tried the Chicken Burrito and commented, “I think I’ll survive until tomorrow.” Cheryl Doo’s taste buds were offended by the Chicken Taco Salad. “It’s not very appetizing. The Grill open [at Commons] is much better.” Doo suggested the addition of a sandwich deli and a little music to improve the ambience.

Most students lamented the loss of Roberto, who had manned a private eating truck outside the Law Center since September. In an obvious attempt to prevent competition, the University moved Roberto away. The first year class circulated a petition demanding Roberto’s immediate return, and Student Senator James Bozajian has requested action by the Senate, but has yet there has been no positive response. Audry Rohn summed up the feelings of her class when she said, “I can’t perceive three years of Cafeteria food especially without Roberto as an alternative.”

The prices at the cafeteria seem erratic and some have noticed differences with prices with Commons. Tom Foote was particularly upset that V8 costs $1.15, and also pointed out that a small bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider is priced unbelievably high at a $1.56. On the other hand the Chicken and Beef Burritos are generously priced at $2.60.

The Cafeteria is currently staffed by two career food services employees, but they have requested an additional server during peak hours to alleviate the great demand. Alejandro Najera has worked in nearly all the University dining facilities in his 18 years with Food Services. Sharon Paige has worked at USC for 11 years and finds her new position “comfortable.” Chris O’Brien expressed sympathy for the food servers even as he waited 25 minutes for a bagel. “The counter is obviously too wide for them. It must have been designed for gibbons. This thing is a horror. It’s a nightmare. Wake me up!”

Between the lockers and the cafeteria is the game area which currently offers four video games and two pinball machines. Jokerz, the first pinball game to arrive, appears to be the most popular. The high score shows a conspicuously even 5,000,000 by BSO. Originally fifty cents per game, the price has been lowered to a much more reasonable 25 cents. It is impossible to determine if law students achieve the high scores, but we have decided to publish them anyway. GRP is the king of Karate Champ with a high score of 61,000, RJK owns top honors with 763,380 on Sky Soldiers, and RCA managed 367,139 on Tetris.

Students have acclimated to their new surroundings with surprising speed. It took only minutes for everyone to recognize a major flaw. Because the restrooms open up on both sides, they make a convenient corridor from the hall to the locker area. Perhaps the designers realized that bathrooms would be used as hallways and so the as yet unfinished changing rooms on the restrooms have been numbered, as if classes were to be scheduled there.

Students have been less quick to notice the rear exit from the locker area which provides quick access to the library and the new classrooms on the first floor. It remains a mystery why there is a three foot gate blocking the continuation of the stairs on the first floor. Why is it necessary to go outside and reenter in order to continue up or down the staircase?

The journals and clinical programs have moved into their new accommodations. Located on the third floor are the Law Review, Computer/Tax Journal, Post-Conviction Justice Project and Poverty Law Clinic offices. Mary Ann Soden of Post-Conviction seemed very pleased with her new surroundings. Previously cooped up in one small room without windows the Project now shares an enormous light-filled room with the Poverty Law Clinic. There will plenty of room for eight computer terminals, bookshelves, carrels, and dividers for client interviewing spaces as well as plenty of plants to take advantage of the natural light. “We are no longer imprisoned in Post-Conviction,” exclaims Soden.

The Law Review offices don’t have the open, airy feeling that the Post-Conviction room exudes. The bookshelves are already lined with old journals and a touched-up poster of Mikhail Gorbachev stares down at staffers on tables that fill the common space. Although there are only four small offices for the editors, one less than previously, the new offices make much more efficient use of space. “It seems much more roomier,” says Ed Hagenrott, Managing Editor.

Apparently some Law Review staffers have expressed jealously over the Post-Conviction office, but Hagenrott is magnanimous in admitting that, “if anything, Post-Conviction got room they should have had before.” Soden had less compassion for the disgruntled Law Review staffers. “We are doing something real,” she argued. “People read what we write.”

The Computer/Tax Journal occupies the rooms next to the Law Review with a view toward the Coliseum and the giant billboard of L. Ron Hubbard. Editor-in-Chief Colleen Ryan is very pleased with the new accommodations. “It gives us the kind of space we need to get journals out on time,” says Ryan. The Journal did not have individual offices for editors before, and Ryan says she’s looking forward to getting some work done in her less cramped quarters. “Having to spend time in the old office there was a lot of commotion, and it was just harder to work,” she says.

The faculty are slowly moving into their new offices. Perhaps the unfinished look of the connecting corridors is making them apprehensive. The new dining/conference room on the eastern side of the new addition looks tremendous. What a difference from the unimpressive student lounge! The room offers a brilliant 225 degree view and fine blue carpeting. Adjoining the facility is a modern kitchen complete with a dishwasher.

Also worth noting are the new bathrooms on the fourth floor which include showers. In all of the new bathrooms there is one sink raised too high with tape around the pipes. Can someone please explain what this is for?

 

Two Immodest Proposals

“Editorial: Two Immodest Proposals”

Law Street Journal Article (February 1990))

By Randol Schoenberg

Choosing courses is an iffy thing at best. There are a few important considerations such as bar courses, scheduling conflicts, draw time, final schedule, no Friday classes and last and least what you actually want to take. But perhaps the most important consideration is the professor. We all know that even the most exciting course can be made a bore by a bad professor and that the opposite is true as well. The professor determines the enjoyment of the course.

Unfortunately, we have little opportunity to evaluate the quality of professors before we enroll in their courses. Many people use the first few weeks of classes as a shopping period. They may end up with classes and professors they like, but they inevitably miss the introductory portions of some of their courses. Others who are unwilling to go through the hassle of changing schedules, stick it out in courses they dislike, often unaware that there are better alternatives.

An obvious solution to this problem is to make the objective portions of the course evaluations available to students. The faculty clearly would object to this system, fearing that certain professors’ feelings might be hurt if their low scores were made public but that isn’t the case for most undergraduate professors who not only face objective numerical evaluations but student-written course descriptions.

Students have a right to access information which they provide. By denying us the chance to use course evaluations in selecting our courses, the administration is obstructing an informed course selection process. Our educational experience undoubtedly suffers because of it.

***

Drab and dull describe the interior décor of the Law Center. The walls are white on white like a poor imitation of Kasimir Malevich. No self-respecting law firm would leave its halls as blank and unadorned as those in our law school. What we need is a little art to delight our senses and engage our minds as we walk the corridors and lounge in the wide open spaces of the new and improved law center, the cost of art these days! How does a small school struggling to make ends meet decorate?   Certainly we can’t expect $57 million to be shelled out for a Van Gogh to be displayed in the Dean’s Office. What can a poor law school do to show its love and appreciation for the arts?

The answer lies in what we have to offer—lots and lots of blank and empty space. There must be hundreds of student artists at USC who would love to exhibit their paintings if only there were a place to hang them. Why not ask the Art Department to decorate some of our walls?

Each semester the students in the art department could set up an exhibit on the walls, and in the open spaces of the law center. Paintings or sculptures that are particularly good or well-received could be donated or loaned to the law school indefinitely. Over a period of years, the law school could establish quite a nice collection from USC student artists.