Surviving swotvac
Monday, June 15, 2015
Justinian in Barely Legal, Law students

Barely Legal is cramming three big exams into one weekend ... It's more sweat than vac ... Amoebas swimming downstream ... Hazing mandated by the legal profession 

Barely Legal recently undertook some extracurricular procrastination by delving into the etymology of the word "swotvac", otherwise known as "stuvac" to those dwelling in less civilised Australian states. 

It's from the old English "swot" meaning to sweat and "vac", shorthand for vacation. Presumably this conjunction is to emphasise the closeness of the coming vacation to the sweat inducing work of exams. 

A sweaty vacation swotvac is not. Rather, it is a time when the cracks begin to appear in what otherwise appear to be model law students. Hair becomes more ruffled, ruby red veins appear in the white of eye, and laughter begins to resemble that of a mad scientist.

Swotvac's communal study areas, particularly computer labs, become disease ridden cesspits of overworked, sick, and tired students. A brief glance around my law library reveals students flaked-out with exhaustion, face down on their desks. Some keep blankets near their chairs, for warmth or security, or both.

If one were to look at law libraries from a bird's eye view during swatvac, I am sure they would resemble petri dishes full of little malnourished and struggling amoebas. 

To put students through this ordeal seems to be the mandated hazing required by the legal profession. Rightly or wrongly law exams, with all their intensity, are what prepares one third of us for legal practise. The remaining two thirds are turned off by the torture.

Indeed, there are some obvious parallels between exams and legal practice. A mad and complex build-up to a single day, the high stakes, and only a couple of hours (if that) to argue your case.

Each semester I forget just how stark this collective act of masochism must seem to those who don't experience it. 

How will my brain recover from the onslaught of Property, Admin, and Corps exams held over a single weekend? My only solace is that a bunch of other wretches are going through the same trauma. 

We little law amoebas must swim together. It's the only way we'll find a way out of the petri dish. 

Elections

Barely Legal is happy to report on the now completed ANU Postgraduate & Research Students' Association (PARSA) election for 2015-2016. 

The candidate who ran for the College of Law representative slot won the position with less than 50 votes, total. After executing some political gymnastics the new rep will become an executive member of an organisation with an operating budget a kiss under one million dollars. Long live lawyers in politics. 

The election was fair and honest, but for some voting hiccups that rendered the polls inactive for the better part of two out of the three days.  

There were grumblings about a challenge to the results, but where to go with such a challenge is not certain. 

Australia's own zany uncle Clive Palmer had some success slapping the AEC in the Court of Disputed Returns. However, Clive dropped out of his UQ law degree, and was not heavily involved in student politics. 

Swotvac got to him. 

Article originally appeared on Justinian: Australian legal magazine. News on lawyers and the law (http://justinian.com.au/).
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