Babies and puppies and dancing, oh my!

Yale Law School’s latest library initiative, which has drawn loads of buzz in the last couple of days, is hypoallergenic, albeit furry and drooly. This is actually sorta old news; it appeared a couple of weeks ago in New York Magazine, which prompted me to ask our library director about why we were so behind the times. Just a few days prior I had sent yet another e-mail to the director, upon learning of a law school library that features pool and table tennis, not to mention a DVD lending library of popular films. She rolled her responses to both inquiries together and very politely wrote back to emphasize that we have a whole lot of books, and that we’ll leave it at that, thankyouverymuch. (She did bring to my attention, however, another law library that lends out bicycles, although without in any way suggesting that we would soon be featuring the same. I guess she just wanted me to know that she considered and rejected many, many alternative-library schemes, not just the ones that I helpfully alert her to.) We here in Ann Arbor will have to content ourselves with mere beauty and books in our library.

And fair enough, because really, the weird part of the story to me is simply that it is the library spearheading the stress-reduction initiative. Law students get stressed; law schools want them to de-stress. It seems eminently reasonable to look for creative ways to do that. We, for example, make backrubs available during exam periods. That seems pretty normal, but it would quickly begin to seem not normal at all if we asked the librarians to give the backrubs. In sum, just because there’s a checking-in and checking-out aspect to the dog-destress transaction doesn’t, to me, immediately suggest that it’s the library that should be charged with implementation.

Now, one thread of reaction to this dog-lending story has been animal-rights-based. A bunch of law students, one can reasonably suppose, have the potential to inflict a fair amount of stress on an animal companion. Dogs are intelligent, after all. Exactly how often can a sentient being be expected to endure cuddling while soaking up angst about the cuddler’s failure to grasp the rule against perpetuities? Many a romantic partner of a law student has had occasion to ask him/herself that over the years.

But at an alumni/admitted student reception in D.C. on Tuesday, some alumni proposed a creative solution, inspired by the arrival at the event of two married Law School grads who brought along their spectacularly adorable toddler. Here’s how I see this solution being implemented:

To be clear, this is a picture of the proposed Law School Stress Baby, comforting the companion dog at some other law school. (Thank you, Ben Falik, ’09, for generously contributing Pheobe’s photo to this cause. Your record of philanthropy continues to be unsurpassed.)

I think we could pull this off and make history. Check out the new SFF auction booklet, Item 119, wherein Professor Laura Beny generously offers up a playdate with her one-year-old. Maybe she will allow multiple bids—de-stressification for all! And if that doesn’t do the trick, there’s always the dancing-on-the-tables that is a traditional part of driving up bids for Items 19 & 20. I hear exercise is great for cutting anxiety. (Well—the anxiety of everyone except the people whose items are in the bidding war. )

-Dean Z. Assistant Dean for Admissions and Special Counsel for Professional Strategies