It is my distinct honor to welcome readers to the University of Central Florida (UCF) Department of Legal Studies inaugural undergraduate law journal. By establishing an undergraduate law journal, UCF joins a very elite group of universities that provides students this unique, unparalleled and quintessential experiential learning opportunity, which is typically reserved for law and graduate students. Writing and editing the undergraduate law journal affords students a hands-on and deep understanding of the process of writing for publication, editing the work of others, and creating a journal.
The students who participated this first-year were recommended by departmental faculty, then interviewed and selected by the undergraduate law journal advisor, Professor James Beckman. Professor Beckman, who was also the inaugural chair of the Department of Legal Studies, took on the role of law journal advisor, as he does with all projects, with the fervor and dedication of a true scholar-teacher. Under his tutelage, the students were provided a top-notch learning experience. From teaching the students the nuances of Bluebook citation to the thick-skinned approach of editing others and their own work and the exploration of writing for publication, there is no one better to engage and teach students than Professor Beckman.
As with any such endeavor, it takes a village. The undergraduate journal could not have come to fruition without the support of university and college administrators, the department’s Office Manager, Katie Connolly, and the many legal studies faculty, who everyday dedicate their time and energy to preparing the next generation. Topics in this inaugural issue are truly extraordinary, in terms of the quality of the research and writing, as well as timeliness and relevancy of the articles. For example, articles in the journal range from the “social media” comments and “tweets” of the President of the United States and what status of “law” these comments are afforded in the U.S. legal system to the legality of police officers’ usage of automatic license plate scanners and whether or not such practices violate society’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Other articles deal with such complex and timely topics such as the impact of race on the operation of the United States correctional system to an analysis of the implications of the “Me Too#” movement and its comparison with a famous 1966 short story by author Joyce Carol Oates. Enjoy the articles and marvel that these bright students, who so willingly took on more work than a normal course, engaged in critical assessment and thought-provoking conversations, and produced a journal that contributes to intellectual debates and a deeper understanding of many timely interdisciplinary topics.