Class Gift Presentation: Anton P. Jongeneel
We arrived at Columbia Law School less than three years ago. In that time, I served with you in many of our student groups and projects, perhaps more than is prudent considering the difficulty of those three years. Whether in the law revue show, the Senate, the journal, or whatever else I joined you in doing, I was drawn by a realization: Columbia law students are really good at making things happen really well. Your dedication and ability has been inspiring to me, and it was an honor being your colleague.
In the past three years, we have loaded up on buses to go to polling stations and protect the fundamental right to vote, we sent more law students than any other law school to Louisiana in order to help with the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Many of us left our homes and went around the world to advocate. We helped democracies transitioning from the aftermath of colossal human tragedy, from Rwanda, to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, the Middle-East, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and on. Some of us stayed here at home to work for the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Lambda Legal, NAACP, and even for the sake of our families. America is a great place, but imperfect, and we energetically took on some of the toughest problems in our society. In the meantime, we also chaired the National Native American Law Student Association, won the Jessup Moot Court World Championship, and got hired to rather spectacular jobs. And still, we did not forget our immediate community. We tutored Harlem’s children, fought discrimination at Columbia – voicing it out loud and in legal briefs, and with the same energy, we worked closely with the new administration at Columbia Law School to improve our own school.
Dean Schizer, during our time here, Loan Repayment Assistance improved, the school guaranteed second, and then first-year public interest summer funding, you worked with us on class enrollment issues, online issues, even our own personal issues – and we know we had them. We know, too, that there are many important changes happening in the next year that will directly improve the lives of students at our school. Columbia Law School is a difficult experience, and we sincerely appreciate the time you spent listening to us and the energy that you and the administration spent in helping us through it. We urge you to keep students as your number one priority, and that student-learning and student-welfare remain at the heart of your administration.
Amidst this momentum, we know that there is more work to be done, and we graduates are committed to your efforts to make Columbia the best place to study law. Dean Shizer, we are a magnificent group of graduates, and I urge you not to underestimate our ability to help where help is needed. In fact, we are so good at what we do, and so committed to Columbia Law School and its future students, that we, as a class, broke the school record. 75% of us sitting out here today, JDs and LLMs, pledged to the Class Gift, far more than any other graduating class in the history of this school. We set out to break the previous record of 62%, and we smashed it.
Dean Schizer, on behalf of my co-chair Cecelia Castro, the incredibly dedicated leadership of the Class Gift Committee, and the 477 students of the Graduating Class of 2007 who pledged their support, I present you with the 2007 Class Gift Scroll of Honor.