By Darby Murnane Contributing Writer
Dean Danielle Conway of University of Maine School of Law will be coming to UMF to deliver the lecture “Why Law Matters More Than Ever,” which will discuss themes such as equal rights and non-violent social activism in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
One of UMF’s political science instructors, Professor James Melcher, expressed his excitement for Conway’s upcoming visit. “[Conway]’s amazing… her experiences are amazingly diverse,” Melcher said. “I think she’s doing great work at the University of Maine School of Law so I’m excited that she’s coming back here.”
Conway became the dean of the University of Maine School of Law back in 2015. Conway was a professor of law with expertise in the areas of entrepreneurship, intellectual property law and public procurement law.
Conway served 27 years of Active Duty military service in the U.S. Army, the Army Reserves and the National Guard. In November 2016, Conway retired from the military with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
As a faculty member of UMF’s political science program and the pre-law advisor, Professor Melcher has a deep respect for Conway’s work. Melcher weighs in on the main idea of her lecture: the increasing importance of law in America’s current rocky political climate.
Melcher pointed out that King called for civil disobedience when laws needed to be questioned, and when citizens needed to examine who those laws best served. “ I think [Conway] will argue that there are times when it’s appropriate to question law, and appropriate to call for a change in law,” Melcher said.
Melcher believes that the troubled times Americans are currently living in is, to some extent, cyclical, and the discontent among citizens may also be attributed to “incivility rising than flat out disrespect for law.”
Since America is a nation founded on ideals of religious freedom and ethnic diversity as opposed to ideals of blood, soil and war, there is the question of whether or not American laws have held true to these morals considering the controversies over immigration, a border wall with Mexico, and the recent race riots.
Melcher states, “We’re more than just the sum of having been born here.” According to Melcher, American society has moved ahead of where the Founders were in such areas as the treatment of minorities and women. In terms of civic engagement and expectations of civility, Melcher asserted that, “I do think we’re falling down on that. We’re starting to see more and more people looking at their political opponents as an enemy, as people who are evil, as opposed to just, ‘I disagree with you.’”
Melcher is also steadfast in his beliefs that, “There’s too much anger, too much hatred, too much willingness to believe the worst out of people, and I think the biggest piece of it is a lack of empathy.”
Conway’s talk will take place on February 28th and will be held in the Lincoln Auditorium in Roberts Learning Center during common time.