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Dean for a Day Honourable Mention(Note: The judges of the 2012 Dean for a Day contest were moved by this anonymous submission from a student who did not want her/his identity to be revealed and thus was precluded from the possibility of serving as Dean for a Day. The judges recommended that this submission be printed in the Obiter Dicta together with the winning submission.)
Osgoode is a really great law school. Many of the professors are extremely engaging. A dedicated faculty and administration ensure that bad ones don’t last long! The new renovations are bright and fabulous. I adore the new library. Although I wish mains came with more green vegetables at the cafeteria, I am nevertheless pleased with the change.
Amidst all of this progress, and after what I can only call a pleasant and challenging experience so far, if I were Dean for a Day I would focus on an area in which I think the law school could do much better: promoting awareness about mental health issues that law students and lawyers face, and making resources to deal with those issues more available. I would go about pursuing this objective in five ways:
1. I would set up dispensers for mental health pamphlets in more areas in the school – maybe in bathrooms and the locker area.
2. I would institute a Mental Health Awareness Week either the week before first term grades are released, or the week they are released, during which time I would invite expert panelists to talk about issues like depression, anxiety, catastrophic thinking and the many great ways one can stop living with an emotional anvil around one’s neck while trying to swim through life. If I were really ambitious, I would cancel classes for one afternoon of that week to facilitate attendance at those lectures. (I would also record the lectures and make them available to all students.)
3. I would provide training to all of the Osgoode faculty and staff, so as to better equip them to help students who come to discuss vague problems of unhappiness or concerns about their futures.
4. I would invite successful alumni and faculty to “out” themselves by sharing “dirty” transcript secrets – like B’s and C’s they got in their fields of expertise, or even D’s. Ideally, this group would be composed of individuals on a wide variety of career paths. The idea is to work harder to dispel the notion that mediocre grades will ruin your life. These “secrets” could be published in a letter sent to all students, as was done at Columbia Law School, or there could be a presentation on the night of Mock Trial. The best time to do this would probably be when fall grades are released.
5. I would devote a small section of the library to a collection of books like “Mind over Mood” and “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook.”
Osgoode provides us with a great academic foundation for the practice of law. From that point of view, I could not be happier with my choice. By engaging more with mental health issues in the ways I outlined above, Osgoode could help create a generation of lawyers who are equipped to navigate the challenges and stresses of the profession. After all, what’s the use of being an excellent lawyer if you are totally miserable in the process?