Sunday, May 15, 2016

Gee, Wally, that's swell: Indiana Tech produces graduates

You heard it here first. Long before Alexander's ragtime (or hip-hop?) band opened the first and only law skule to disgrace greater metropolitan Fort Wayne, we the Cassandras of OTLSS warned of what would happen. And indeed Indiana Tech's law skule has failed to thrive. The ill-laid schemes of Indiana Tech's mice (any men there?) gaed agley. Grandiose plans that supposedly warranted the expense of a curated art collection remain unfulfilled. Indeed, Indiana Tech this past year had to drop tuition to zero in order to attract students, and still only fifteen swallowed the bait.

Unfortunately, Indiana Tech has survived long enough to shit out a graduating class. On Saturday, May 14, 2016, all of 21 lemmings collected a JD from Fort Wayne's center of juridical excellence. If, like me, you missed the ceremony (which was open to the public at no charge, although parking cost $5), be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy it on the Internet (http://commencement.indianatech.edu/watch/).

Now, of course the law skule could not have held its own graduation ceremony; after all, buying chocolate-chip cookies for 21 graduates and their guests might have driven the institution into insolvency. That could have spelled the end of the exciting and vital new field of law & hip-hop. To prevent that calamity, the university held one big ceremony for all departments, from Fashion Marketing & Management to Global Leadership (PhD).

As a journalist covering the law-school scam, I probably should have watched the whole damn thing. But I don't get paid for this stuff, and anyway that sort of torture might have justified calling in the union steward. So I took the liberty of skipping the first fifteen minutes or so, a procession featuring a brass band's unprepossessing rendition of Elgar. After some blowhard praised the trustees and the faculty, he introduced the keynote speaker, Jerry Mathers.

Certainly that name is familiar to me, but it may not be to a generation that has never encountered black-and-white television, so I'd better explain: as a child, Jerry Mathers played the lead role (that of Theodore "the Beaver" Cleaver) in a dull, white-bread 1950s sit-com called Leave It to Beaver. A typical episode centers on a tempest in a teapot arising from the Beaver's foibles and naïveté. Elder brother Wally lectures the Beaver ("You're in trouble now!"), but the improbably wise and forbearing father forgives all, and maybe Mom utters a word or two if she's not too busy with baking and sewing. It's a perfect little white suburban world where no voice is ever raised, no unkind word ever uttered. Women are marginalized, and racialized people are conspicuous by their absence. Tune in next week for another fun-filled episode of strait-laced McCarthy-era Americana.

Mathers was eminently qualified to address Indiana Tech's graduating class of 2016. Presumably through parental connections and geographic circumstance, he stumbled into acting for the boob tube at age 2. Whatever that early gig was, he parlayed it into Leave It to Beaver, which ran until Wally and the Beaver were simply too old to carry on the boyish farce. Since then, he has done … well, nothing, really. According to the introduction given at the ceremony, he worked at a bank for a time and also sold real estate. He seems to have had a few minor acting gigs over the past 40 years or so. That's it.

So why exactly was this actor manqué selected as keynote speaker? Well, the baby boomers who chose him must have looked with nostalgic admiration upon their childhood hero, even though most of the graduates probably hadn't heard of him. In addition, he must have been cheap. More prominent celebrities have exacted six-figure honoraria—too expensive for Indiana Tech, whose coffers have been depleted by a certain failed law school that shall go unnamed. And that is how Indiana Tech came to hire this flash in the pan.

But surely after 65 years in show business Mathers must be able to deliver one hell of a speech. Right? Wrong. It was the least inspired and least inspiring speech that I've heard since I last judged a moot. Mathers read from a script without even pausing at changes of paragraph. His few attempts at humor fell flat. He filled almost twenty painful minutes with platitudes: be yourself; do what you want to do; you're hot shit; you've succeeded against all odds; you're destined for great things. Even the audience tried to cut his speech short by applauding long before he was finished, but he was too daft to take the hint. Apparently he couldn't even wind the dreadful speech up ex tempore.

In Ward Cleaver's absence, Old Guy will have to conclude tonight's episode with a few moralizing words: If even a kid from Los Angeles whose parents get him into the starring role on a major television program can amount to nothing, don't think that your jive ass from Bluffton, Indiana, will get anywhere with a bullshit JD from Indiana mother-fucking Tech.

35 comments:

  1. Christ, I feel bad for those folks. They have almost certainly grokked the nature of their degree by now, and have been holding on hoping the school would fold (and their loans be discharged) before they graduated.

    Should've intentionally bombed a class or two.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In a way, he's the perfect speaker for a law school commencement.

    The Legal Collective - not to be confused with the Borg Collective - wants to evoke the image of law as it was, or at least how they perceived it to be: A noble profession where hard work, merit, and service equates to social status, financial stability, respectability, and an air of success.

    Unfortunately, that hasn't held true in many, many decades, at least 5 by now certainly.

    Law has historically been the playground of aristocrats and a tool of the elite. It was wrapped, or cloaked, in respectability to keep the Unwashed Masses believing in it and believing its practitioners and the System they worked in were honest and fair.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Law was then opened and sold to the lower classes as a path to respectability and success. Like any pyramid scheme, those who got in early did benefit while now, 50+ years later, there's no need for a single new law school or law graduate.

    Having The Beaver as a Keynote speaker squares perfectly with the shysters wanting to fondly envision law as they wish it to be - all the while happily lining their pockets with the plundered shekels of their students and in most cases at the majority of law schools a lifetime of non-dischargeable 6-figure debt (starting) broken hopes and dreams, and financial servitude while the scammers never actually practice the profession they wax so nostalgically about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was a character even named "Whitey" on Leave it to Beaver. According to Wikipedia:

      "Kim Hamilton, the only black performer to appear on the show, played a maid at a wedding reception in "The Parking Attendants"."

      So, a university which has law school that touts its hip-hop street credentials has as its commencement speaker a has-been actor who played the title character in a show that only had one black character who was a maid.

      The optics suck. Indiana Tech is way beyond tragedy and deep into farce. How do they expect anyone to take them seriously?

      Delete
    2. Thanks for pointing out that there was a Black character, albeit an apparently minor figure appearing in only one episode. I hadn't been aware of that. Unsurprisingly, she was a servant.

      Law schools exploit Black and Brown students for the benefit of a white administrative and ejookayshunnal bourgeoisie.

      Delete
    3. My Gawd! Jerry Mathers! What a joke. And what a speech. "The mythical goals you have set for yourselves..."

      I like how he starts off by rubbing it in their faces by saying he studied philosophy at Berkeley (because of all his TV money) and didn't have to take some business degree at Indy Tech in hopes of getting a job in this shit economy!

      Delete
    4. Whitness studies is a bigger scam than law school

      Delete
  3. So, Indiana Dreck School of Law finally crapped out a graduating class, hooray... wait, only 21 students graduated? Didn't they originally start off with 33? What happened to the rest of them?

    As for the former Beaver... poor guy. Still, doesn't sound as painful as the speaker at my own graduation ceremony from undergrad; between that and the useless college degree, I wish I had skipped my own graduation ceremony. What a waste of a perfectly good weekend...

    Still, as far as bad graduation speakers go, let's not forget 5 years ago, when Sara K. Stadler hit the Emory graduating Class of 2011 with that awful, infamous speech. That might still well hold the title for worst ever in this category.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, can't you just get over it and move to Nebraska instead of dragging up that old story?

      Delete
  4. If tuition was in fact ZERO for these folks, it shouldn't be too bad. It's the crazy debt associated with law school (and your inability to pay it back) that causes problems. The degree itself is benign.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Until you put it on your resume, and then it becomes malignant.

      Delete
    2. Supposing you were working in the timeframe, which isn't the easiest thing to do while attending law school. If you were attending school full-time, you end up with a fat employment gap on your resume (or worse, the stain of a TTTT degree) that is very hard to explain to prospective employers.

      Delete
    3. Tuition was zero only for the year 2015–16. Before that, it was about $30k per year. Maybe it'll be zero again this year, although the scamsters at Indiana Tech must hope that the ABA's rubber stamp of accreditation will elevate their toilet in the eyes of lemmings.

      Even at $0, however, Indiana Tech is a bad idea: the opportunity cost alone is monstrous, as is the reputational harm coming from the stain of the name Indiana Tech on a résumé.

      Delete
    4. @6:36,

      'Lost opportunity cost'? LOL, a likely story!

      What exactly would you layabouts be doing instead?

      Curing cancer?

      Designing rockets for NASA?

      Digging up pirates' treasure?

      You go first, Reginald Tuswell OldGuy IV!

      Delete
    5. @6:38 -- opportunity does not have to be curing cancer or going to the moon. It can be more mundane things.

      For example, an apprenticeship in the trades--plumbing, welding, etc.--lasts about 5 years. Law school is 3 years, but in reality (considering time studying for the LSAT, applying, looking for work afterwards, etc.) it's about 4 years. Thus, 4 years taken out of your life that you could have spent as an apprentice, where you actually make a little money (rather than have to pay it).

      As a journeyman, you're part of a union, get benefits, make at least $50K and have no debt.

      Thus, opportunity lost = 3-4 years salary as an apprentice + 3-4 years wasted from your life + lack of student debt (that is upwards of $100K).

      Salaries for Indiana Tech graduates are what? $45K? $50K? And that's if they actually get jobs.

      Plus, salaries for plumbers often do go up. At times, they can go really high to the point where they rival the most highest paid professionals. Note: I once deposed a plumber that made $300K per year.

      For these reasons, going into skilled labor sounds like a better option than anything Indiana Tech can offer.

      Delete
    6. What exactly would you layabouts be doing instead?

      The exact same skilled labor job that I had before law school.

      Delete
    7. Stonemason, the dean of my law school told me, in the middle of my sixth semester, that on account of my age I would not find work in law and therefore should not bother to become a lawyer. He advised me to go back to the line of work that I was pursuing before law school.

      But why bother to speak to me? I'm just a useless fucking layabout.

      Delete
  5. Next Commencement Speaker: Elle Woods

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stonemason, Esq.May 17, 2016 at 5:56 PM

      She attended Harvard, thank you very much.

      Delete
  6. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingMay 16, 2016 at 5:58 PM

    Bill Cosby?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He actually spoke at my Alma Mater's graduation back around the turn of the century. No shit. I woke up on graduation day with my pants mysteriously unbuttoned and the strangest headache I've ever had.

      Delete
  7. Hilarious write-up, OG.

    In general, I have no objection to colleges and Universities hiring a frivolous show biz creature to deliver the commencement address. It is a law of nature that all graduation speeches consist of platitudinous hogwash. So it makes sense to have the keynote platitudes delivered by a celebrity—a specialist in artifice and charm— rather than by a more substantive but equally disengaged person.

    But…why not pick somebody whose act or persona is recognized and appreciated by the grads? Why pick a ridiculous fossil whose stardom faded more than half a century ago? If they ever remake Sunset Boulevard, Nora Desmond’s final haunting line should be, “All right, Indiana Tech, I am ready for my commencement address.”

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, I wish the 21 graduates good luck. I don't give a f*ck about the law school, but I hope these individuals find a soft place to land.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ward, you're being a little hard on the Beaver.... But seriously, the irony of having a n'er-do-well character like the Beaver as the graduation speaker was wasted on those 21 scholars. The Beav travels around to bars and minor league baseball games with Mr.. Belding and Bud Bundy charging $5 for a picture and autograph. The Beav probably thought he was going to some baby boomer's retirement party, like he usually gets $100 for on the weekends. I bet he used the same speech.

    ReplyDelete
  10. And speaking of sorry excuses for graduation ceremonies, how about something where no one shows up?
    http://abovethelaw.com/2016/05/no-law-students-show-up-for-graduation/
    (And didn't OTLSS criticize Vikram Amar not too long ago regarding his words on affordability and sacrifice?)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I will bet that the Beaver's speech was a hell of a lot better than the speech I saw Clarence Thomas give at a law school. He moaned and complained about how he had not been given a fair shake by the legal academy, the press, law reviews, etc. etc....very much still wounded by Anita Hill's accusations. His entire speech was sour grapes. At least the chicken kiev and sherbet was good. All in all, I would rather hear the Beaver speak than hear Clarence Thomas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish he had revealed who had dented his mother's car. I had to take a shit and missed that part. I've been wondering about that for the last 50 years.

      Delete
    2. Chicken Kiev and sherbet at a graduation ceremony? My school didn't even put out coffee.

      Delete
    3. It was nice of Scalia to give him permission to speak. What percent of the honorarium do you think he had to fork over to Antonin?

      Delete
  12. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingMay 17, 2016 at 2:37 PM

    You fellas need to stop poking fun at Indiana. That is where Price Charles spent his honeymoon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indiana wants me!

      Delete
    2. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingMay 19, 2016 at 5:19 PM

      Unfortunately, she was not wearing a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt.

      Delete
  13. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingMay 18, 2016 at 7:40 AM

    Actually, these 21 "lemmings" hit the lotto. It is likely they will be in my position.....A solo practicing out of a decrepit old professional building driving a high mileage car with a bad exhaust (mechanic wants 1200 to fix) schlepping from court house to court house collecting and fighting for 2 bills from retail theft clients. The difference is I did not graduate from a "dreck" law school and have 197K in debt. They have zero. Whatever "two bills" they earn is gravy. None of those clients has ever asked, "Did you attend a Tier 1 School?" (I did) All clients care about is that you are not a "public states attorney who is in bed with the public prosecutor." They do have a notion that being a "private" is more prestigious. Indiana Dreck is irrelevant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Odds are, most (if not all) of the students have debt. Free tuition was only for incoming students in 2015.

      Old Guy, there is no free tuition for incoming students this fall. Out of curiosity, I contacted ITLS and asked. The admissions guy told me that they have provisional accreditation now so that makes them legit. Crazy.

      Delete
  14. Has anyone else noticed the similarities between lawprofs who talk of versatile, million dollar degrees and Eddie Haskell?

    ReplyDelete