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Law Professor’s Criticism of Military Care Package Drive has Unintended Effects

10:09 AM, Nov 29, 2011 • By THERESA CIVANTOS
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A care package drive for deployed U.S. troops is receiving national notice after a professor at Suffolk University Law School criticized the operation. 

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Professor Michael Avery emailed his colleagues just before Veterans’ Day in response to a school-wide email soliciting donations. “I think it is shameful,” he wrote, “that it is perceived as legitimate to solicit in an academic institution for support for men and women who have gone overseas to kill other human beings.”  

Avery’s email inadvertently contributed to the drive’s success, however, because its publication drew an outpouring of support for U.S. service members. 

Samantha Caplan, a law student at Suffolk University, organized the drive after her boyfriend in the Marine Corps was deployed to Afghanistan. His deployment gave her a point of contact overseas. Since the publication of Avery’s email, the response from Suffolk students, faculty and administrators has been very positive, she said, not to mention the “incredible” support from people across the country. 

“The majority of the student body has recognized that people are free to have whatever opinions they like,” she said, “and we’re certainly free to disagree with them.” She said that the donation bin for the drive has been “overflowing,” so much so that she has had to empty it every day since the drive started. “That speaks louder than anything anyone could say.” 

Caplan and the other drive coordinators have been storing the donations in her basement while mailing package shipments periodically. “I’ve never seen this much beef jerky in my entire life!” she laughed. 

The positive response to the drive arose not from any particular group but rather as a spontaneous community reaction to Professor Avery’s comments. “People really rallied together without any sort of prompting,” she said, “due in large part to the attention that was raised.” 

Caplan also pointed out that the people she knows in the military do not begrudge Avery his point of view. “I know my boyfriend is over there and others are over there doing what they do to allow people back here to have the freedom to say what they want,” she said. That reaction, more than anything, “is a testament to the selflessness and upstanding character of service members” that “proves Professor Avery wrong.” 

Caplan herself plans to become a judge advocate for service in the military after she finishes law school.

Theresa Civantos is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.

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