Students bring simulated refugee emergency to Law School
March 31, 2005
University of Michigan Law student-members of the Student Network for Asylum & Refugee Law Project (SNARL) hosted the 2005 Simulated Refugee Relief Operation at the Law School in March. This is the second time SNARL has hosted the simulation, and it is the only such event hosted by any law school in the country.
The simulation was managed by Interworks of Madison, Wisconsin. Interworks has a client list that includes the United Nations, many international relief organizations, and several universities, but only one law school. Using the same scenario as the first simulation at the Law School two years ago, students were assigned roles, such as relief workers, refugees, and political operatives, and responsibilities and situations mirrored those found in a real humanitarian mission to a refugee camp
David Burkoff, '03, who is now an associate at Todd & Weld LLP in Boston, organized the first simulation. He recalls that "it was structured so that events moved quickly. The script included such things as weather problems, sudden mass migrations of refugees, and abrupt shifts in position by the governments and agencies involved. Our respective responses affected what came next." Designed to mirror real life, "there were inevitable shortages of resources, which required prioritizing. . . . We learned that what was considered a priority depended on who you were. Governments, their citizens, the refugees among them, and the various transnational actors each have their own set of interests during a refugee crisis. The simulation made it clear that even when everyone is fully informed and works together in perfect harmony (which never happens), everyone must make sacrifices."
Chad Doobay, a 2L, came to the Law School because of it program in refugee and asylum law. He was the co-chair of this year.s simulation and says that most of the planners were fellow 2Ls, while a few past participants served as administrators supporting the facilitator from Interworks. Doobay and his fellow coordinators recognize that the full dimensions of a refugee crisis can.t be communicated in a classroom setting alone. He and his colleagues wanted the student participants to be able to visualize themselves doing this kind of work.
Graduates with an interest in refugee and asylum law may work for relief agencies, or in many cases may work for law firms that support their attorneys. pro bono activities. The simulation experience definitely affected David Burkoff's interest in immigration-related work. "In addition to representing an asylum seeker through the Law School's General Clinic during my 3rd year, in my first year of practice I took on the case of a young boy from Pakistan who was abandoned here by his parents and who is applying for what's called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status."
Doobay explains that the simulation works best with either 21 or 34 students participating. This year's event was fully enrolled and had a waiting list. SNARL hopes to continue offering the simulation at two-year intervals. Doobay sees it as an excellent complement to the Law School's overall program in refugee and asylum law, directed by Professor James Hathaway.
Student balances law with love of music
March 31, 2005
On Thursday, March 31, University of Michigan Law student Lindsay Heller will solo with the Campus Philharmonia Orchestra, playing "The Lark Ascending" by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and will play as the concertmaster for the rest of the concert. Considering that she began playing the violin when she was about four and a half, you might assume that her undergraduate degree was in some area of music, but not so. Heller, who also plays the piano and guitar, was a chemical engineering major at Brigham Young University for her undergraduate degree. In spite of her non-music major at BYU, she still played in the music major orchestra.
Attending Law School and maintaining membership in an orchestra each take a lot of time. But, she finds that the commitment to music is worthwhile for her. "Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember," Heller says. "When people ask me how I fit my practice schedule into my law studies -- I respond, how can I not fit it in? I need it to keep balance in my life."
Participating in orchestras didn't begin for Heller in college, she was in the fifth grade when she began playing in the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra and says she's been playing in orchestras ever since. Heller began an eight-year stint with Les Quatres Enfants string quartet when she was 12 years old. "I used the money we earned to help pay for my undergraduate education," she says.
Heller's law interests run toward patent law and child advocacy work. She has another year of Law School before graduating, but right now she thinks she'll take the patent bar upon graduation and look for a practice situation that will allow her to combine all of her interests. That means wherever she settles will need to have a community orchestra.
Co-op's ill tenant allowed to stay
Board agrees to accept Section 8 rent voucher
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
By Amy Whitesall, Ann Arbor News Staff Reporter
2005, The Ann Arbor News. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
Laura Barhyte and her sons will be staying home after all.
University Townhouses Cooperative agreed Monday to allow Barhyte to use government aid to pay the rent on the townhouse she and her two sons have lived in since 1999. Barhyte, 48, has stage four breast cancer. Her illness forced her to quit her job as a bookkeeper with Clonlara School in 2001, exhaust her savings and apply for disability income. Though she qualified last fall for a federal rent subsidy called Section 8, the cooperative's board of directors initially denied her request to use it. They reasoned she could take her Section 8 to another landlord. She wanted to stay in her home close to neighbors, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and her sons' schools.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School's clinical law program threatened a lawsuit on Barhyte's behalf, claiming the co-op was violating the Ann Arbor Human Rights ordinance and the Federal Fair Housing Act by refusing to accommodate Barhyte's disability. Based on conversations with Ann Arbor Housing Commission director Betsy Lindsley, the co-op board feared accepting Barhyte's voucher would open the floodgates to other Section 8 voucher holders. Board president Mike Schneider said he'd been told they could expect about 12 new Section 8 applicants a year. If that happened, he said, the board was afraid mandatory paperwork and inspections would drive up administrative costs, which would ultimately mean raising rents for the co-op's 609 households.
"We met again with the Ann Arbor Housing Commission and it appears some of the information they gave us (earlier) was not real clear and thorough," said University Townhouses manager Renee Cieslak. "Once the information was clarified to us, that changed a lot." In more recent meetings, the Housing Commission explained that the co-op could make an exception for Barhyte as an existing tenant without any obligation to accept other Section 8 vouchers, though if other existing tenants became terminally ill they might request a similar accommodation. "I think the decision we made with the facts we had was the best decision in the interest of the membership," Schneider said. "That's all along what we've had to do."
Now all the parties have to do is figure out how to live in each other's midst again. Schneider says he's still baffled that the co-op could be sued for not participating in a voluntary program. Barhyte says no one from the co-op board has been in touch with her and that Cieslak avoided her when they signed papers Monday at the Housing Commission. "I hope it proves to be a satisfactory solution for all the parties," Lindsley said. "She is an existing tenant; they know she's a good tenant. It shouldn't be any burden on them and it makes a world of difference to her."
SFF auction offers rare opportunities
March 11, 2005
This year’s SFF (Student Funded Fellowships) Auction, a major event at the University of Michigan Law School, will be held on March 17 at the Michigan League Ballroom. The Silent Auction begins at 5:30 p.m. with the Live Auction starting at 7 p.m. As in years past, the auction presents opportunities for some interesting and memorable experiences. Some 200 items have been donated by faculty, alumni, business owners, and students. They include a copy of Cannibalism and the Common Law signed in the author’s own blood, meals with faculty both in their homes and at popular restaurants, a "City Slickers" adventure at a Nebraska ranch, golf outings and skydiving experiences, several iPods, jewelry, international artifacts, many sets of tickets to sporting events from Boston to New York to Chicago to San Francisco, and a new addition to the auction this year: artwork done by current U-M Law students. View the complete catalog at www.umich.edu/~lawweb/sff. The auction is open to the public.
Funds raised through the auction provide competitive grants for Michigan Law students who take unpaid or extremely low-paid summer jobs in the public interest. Over the years, some 700 students have received grants enabling them to work for under-served populations at over 250 organizations throughout the country.