Third-year Osgoode Hall Law School student Andrea Hill – whose winning essay advocated a range of local improvements, from a big bus shelter to Puppy Day – served as the school’s Dean for a Day on Feb. 13, while Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin spent the day attending Hill’s classes and taking notes.
Hill was one of six students who submitted essays for this year’s Dean for a Day contest. The Osgoode selection committee, comprised of Associate Dean Shelley Gavigan and Ronda Bessner, assistant dean of the Juris Doctor Program, commended Hill’s essay for its “obvious concern for the physical and esthetic environment of the law school as well as the importance of safety and accessibility issues.”
In addition to Hill’s winning entry, the judges said they received a moving submission from an anonymous student. While the person’s unknown identity precluded selection as Dean for a Day, the judges recommended that the submission be printed in Obiter Dicta, Osgoode’s student newspaper, together with Hill’s winning submission.
Hill, who also received a prize of a pair of tickets to The Black Keys & Arctic Monkeys concert next month at the Air Canada Centre, made herself right at home in Sossin’s office. Her day was jam-packed with meetings every 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Sossin attended her two-hour Legal Governance of Health Care class in the morning.
It was Osgoode’s seventh annual Dean for a Day contest.
Here is the text of Hill’s winning submission:
My Dean for a Day ideas are focused on improving the Osgoode student and visitor experience, as well as enhancing the school’s broader public image. Osgoode is a wonderful school, but sometimes students are in the best position to notice potential improvements. My plan is comprised of short-, medium- and long-term solutions to make Osgoode even better for staff, students and guests.
Short Term (1 to 2 years)
1. Put big plants in the atrium and Gowlings Hall. These are beautiful spaces full of natural light, but they are currently sterile.
2. Look into landscaping the gravel fields outside the front doors.
3. Install sound systems in the [Osgoode] Bistro and JCR [Junior Common Room], and play ambient music.
4. Have coffee with the dean in Gowlings Hall.
5. Put coat hooks in classrooms.
6. Initiate Puppy Day! Puppies can be provided by the local adoption centre, and can be kept in a pen. Students can sign waivers to protect the school. This will be a terrific stress reliever, guaranteed.
Medium Term (2 to 3 years)
1. Add a salad bar to the Bistro. It should be unacceptable to be running out of salads by 11:30am (as often happens) and pre-mixed salads often come with ham or cheese, which many people can’t have.
2. Build a big bus shelter at the southeast corner of Sentinel and Pond Road. Most Osgoode students who take the bus catch it there and the spot is windy and cold.
3. Install lamps and smooth out the pavement on the walkway between Osgoode and the intersection of Sentinel and Pond. Whether students drive or take the bus, they typically use this diagonal route and it can be dark, bumpy and icy.
4. Get a crosswalk or stop sign installed at the point where the walkway to Passy crosses the Pond Road. There is too much traffic here in all directions.
5. Commission student artists to paint art for Osgoode’s walls.
6. Install big, clear signs directing traffic to Osgoode from Keele and Finch. I have helped to run an experiential learning program for two years, featuring dozens of guest lecturers each term. Virtually everyone gets lost and frustrated, and then is less willing to come up in subsequent years. Osgoode should also try to get parking spots in the Atkinson Parking Lot across the field.
7. Overhaul Osgoode’s branded clothing. The current supplier is awful and the clothing is scratchy and cheap. I would replace the current supplier entirely and emphasize form and quality with the new one. A boat neck tank top with a legal quote wrapping around the side, for example, is much more likely to be proudly worn outside the school.
Long Term (3 to 5 years)
1. Send student ambassadors to regional high schools around the GTA to discuss law and law school, including their experiential learning highlights.
2. Remove fencing from between Osgoode and HNES [Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building] and plant flowers, maybe with a firm sponsorship.
Implementing such simple changes will help make Osgoode even more welcoming, safe and exciting!