Dalhousie is in the unique position of being located in the heart of a city with enormous potential. As law students, we should make it our project to cultivate this potential by extend our existing sense of school pride and dedication to service the broader Dal community.
In 1818, Dal was a small college by the sea. Today, 200 years later, we are a U-15 school that has produced Prime Ministers, Noble Laureates, Rhodes Scholars, the Lithium Ion battery, Olympians, and even the odd lawyer. With Dalhousie entering its third century, and our law school well into its second, now is an opportune time to step back and think about what values and shared ambitions we want to animate in our University’s image in the years to come.
An engaged student body here at Weldon is a good example of something that, if nurtured properly, can dramatically enhance the Dal community this coming century. I feel a palpable buzz whenever I walk into the building. The walls are covered with posters about conferences, guest speakers, LSS events, and upcoming visits from employers in all sectors. It is difficult to make it to class without buying something from a bake sale. Vacant classrooms are consistently filled by students participating in society meetings and workshops. Free food abounds.
However, one thing that we, as law students, can do better is find ways to radiate this buzz beyond the walls of Weldon. Not only do we need to bring the rest of the Dal community in our home more often, but we also need get out of the law building and start fostering ties with other societies, faculties, and communities on campus.
For instance, the DSU currently has nearly 250 ratified societies, including the LSS and all other societies at Weldon. There must be at least a handful that are willing to pair up with one of our societies to bring in a guest speaker, host a conference, or have a few joint meetings throughout the year. I, for one, know that there is a small army of political science and business undergrads that would be ecstatic to partner up with some ‘real life’ law students and learn about how their passions can intersect with pursuing a law degree at Dal. If, on our expeditions away from Weldon Island, we happen to convince a few undergraduate students to stick around on the East Coast instead of migrating back to Ontario, all the better!
One of Dal’s best attributes is its interdisciplinary character. It doesn’t have to choose between being a research-intensive university or one that focuses on training people for the workforce. Moreover, it doesn’t have to aspire to be Harvard or U of T. Nor should it. Rather, Dal has been successful over the past 200 years because it has learned how to double down on what it does best and evolve on its own terms. Similarly, if we law students can get out of our bubble more often, we will play a pivotal role in defining and actualizing the Weldon Tradition for years to come.