Columbia Law Students Gather To Watch Presidential Forum

Columbia Law Students Gather To Watch Presidential Forum

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September 12, 2008 (NEW YORK) –  Approximately 100 Columbia Law School students gathered in the Proskauer Auditorium of Jerome Greene Hall on Sept. 11 to watch a live broadcast of  the Service Nation presidential forum at Columbia University attended by both John McCain and Barack Obama.
“I’m so surprised that these two presidential candidates are holding their speeches close to our lives,” said Hiroki Fuchiwaki, 31, a first-year Columbia Law School student from Tokyo. “I’m feeling part of what the American democracy is. Because in Japan, we don’t have such opportunities.”
“It shows how prestigious this university is,” said Luo Xiao, a 26-year-old Shanghai native enrolled in the LL.M  program. “These candidates did not pick any other university. They did not pick New York University. They picked Columbia University.”

 The forum was held in Lerner Hall on the Columbia campus, a quick walk from the Law School. It marked the first joint appearance of its kind for McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona, and Obama, the Democratic senator from Illinois, since each won the official presidential nomination of his party. Each candidate was interviewed individually by PBS News Hour anchor Judy Woodruff and TIME magazine managing editor Richard Stengel.
The presidential forum, which commemorated the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 by focusing on the issue of national service, also included speeches by New York State Governor David Patterson, a 1977 graduate of Columbia College, and Columbia President Lee Bollinger who graduated from the Law School in 1971 and is on its faculty.
The students were excited to be in proximity to McCain and Obama, and an event of such importance.
Stephen MacArthur, 22, a first-year Law School student who graduated from Duke University this spring, compared Columbia’s uniqueness to his undergraduate alma mater this way: “People don’t just stop by Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Not like here.”
Obama graduated from Columbia in 1983 and joked that “I’ve got a slight home-court advantage here. This is my alma mater.” McCain is not without his own Columbia connection. His daughter graduated from Columbia last year.

Some Law School students said that one reason they feel a strong connection with Obama is his experience as a lawyer, citing their preference for a presidential candidate who might see the world through the same lawyerly lens that they do.

 “He went to Harvard, president of the Law Review, taught constitutional law at Chicago,” said Chris Kotarba, 27, a second-year Columbia Law student from Houston. “Lawyers sort of have a nice way of looking at the world, a way of seeing an issue from every way possible.”
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, and criminal law.
–Written and reported by Ben Frumin