The Challenge of Staying Politically Active at USD Law

One might think that law students are predisposed to being politically active. However, I do not think that this is necessarily true. In fact, the two predominant political clubs on campus seem to be nonexistent this semester. I truly believe that mainstream undergraduate college students are much more likely to be politically active than a USD Law Student. Why is this?

First, let me define politically active. A politically active student, in my eyes, isn’t afraid to speak up in class about his viewpoint or tell other students about a candidate. The politically active student would be talking about the senate and gubernatorial races right now as we are getting closer to the November elections. The politically active law student wears political T-shirts and puts bumper stickers on his car. He is the loud one in class if he feels his opinion isn’t adequately represented.

As a former semi-politically active undergrad, I used to go to rallies and hold signs and yell at protestors. I used to go to a certain political party’s state convention. Now I simply study, research, and write . . . and rinse and repeat. I have the time to follow the races and the propositions, but I simply cannot find the time to be as politically active on campus and in the community. My life is the law, and politics have taken a backseat. This is especially true in my second year, where we are “worked to death.” I have rejected every single invite to a political rally, fundraiser, or assorted shindig on Facebook so far this semester, simply because my priorities as a student come first.

As a student who always has his finger on the pulse of Warren Hall, I just do not see strong political activity taking place besides those law students taking very specific positions. As a 2L, I have witnessed several classmates come out in support of and against Prop 19 and Prop 23, the recreational marijuana and global warming initiatives, respectively. Because these fringe issues are outside where politics usually stands, people on both sides of the political spectrum have come out in favor and opposition. But I have heard nary a peep out of people regarding the actual candidates for whom we will be voting in November. This leads me to believe that others are experiencing the same phenomenon that I am. Law school is simply a time crunch that allows students little time for unnecessary things such as politics.

Another consideration students must think about is the tight-knit law school community here at USD and how it would react to our political comings and goings. If you come out in support of a controversial position or candidate, word will get out, and your reputation can be severely damaged. I believe the average law student here tends to act as if he or she is at the center of the political spectrum because of the pressure to be “normal.” In fact, I have not strayed from the center, though I do have certain positions with which others would disagree. I would conclude that at USD Law, it’s especially hard to be politically active.

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