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In Limine

by vicki sanders, editor in chief

Vicki Sanders PhotoTurned On

Campus life and public life. Ever the twain shall meet.

Michael Dukakis entered an East Wing lecture hall last spring with a purpose: to invite, cajole, persuade students to enter a life of public service. This from a man who lost a presidential election in 1988. From a politician who endured media scrutiny and character assassination attempts. From a two-time Massachusetts governor who, by virtue of his calling, made his mistakes in public view. Even so, Dukakis tore into the BC Law crowd like a new convert, telling them that "there is nothing more personally fulfilling than making a difference in the lives of your fellow citizens."

You could almost say that Dukakis was born to public life. Conversations around the dinner table in his large immigrant family were boisterous with Greek politics, and by the time Dukakis was seven or eight, he was hooked. In the third grade, he ran for class president. While at Harvard Law School, he campaigned for town office in Brookline, Massachusetts (and won), and by 1960 he was the ringleader of a group of thirty-five, mostly young, progressive Democrats answering the call for new blood in the state party organization.

As quaint as the political scene of his coming-of-age years might now seem, Dukakis said, the American political system is still wide open. "It's a great time to be in public service. Run for office. Get deeply involved in the process that elects people. If you have talent, you'll move up quickly." Yes, he acknowledged, it takes skill and it's hard to be effective, but "don't let anybody tell you that you have to compromise your integrity or that you can't live a fulfilling personal life."

Dukakis, now a professor at Northeastern University School of Law and vice-chair of the Amtrak Reform Board, came to campus at the invitation of the Law Students Association. One of dozens of visits by notables last semester (others of his ilk included Canadian Ambassador Paul Cellucci, Representative Barney Frank, and gubernatorial candidate Robert Reich), Dukakis's appearance was a glimpse not only into BC Law's extracurricular life but also at the values the community holds dear.

Come to campus on any given day, and you are apt to encounter a panel of experts debating the separation of church and state, a group of colleagues discussing new public interest initiatives as part of the strategic planning process, a gathering of faculty listening to a colleague's paper on race in America, or a cluster of students counting the dollars raised at their annual auction for public interest stipends.

These are the kinds of day-to-day missions, inquiring states of mind, and determined off-hour efforts that define life at BC Law and fill the pages of this issue of BC Law Magazine. As Dukakis put it, in a different context, "I wouldn't swap it for anything. This is the stuff that really turns me on."