My first year of law school, it snowed so much on the morning of my Contracts exam, that I had to have my dad drive me to school and wait for hours in the library while I finished my test because the school refused to cancel or move the test even though basically everyone was snowed into their respective apartments. And there was no reason they should have moved the test. Aside from general concerns about safety and welfare, that are almost always secondary to a legal education, causing mental anguish seems to be the goal of most first year legal programs, and no one gives actual lawyers the day off of work because they didn’t have the requisite foresight to buy Hunter boots on clearance sale. At least, so I’ve heard. I got all that education and barely practiced.
In other words, though, the legal profession isn’t one where you can easily excuse bad work because you’ve suffered mental anguish, least of all because of mental anguish because of the shortcomings of the justice system. But us Millennials are incapable with handling the burdens of reality and everything is terrible now, so Columbia Law School is letting its students postpone taking their exams if they’ve suffered emotional distress as a result of grand jury decisions in Ferguson and NYC.
Columbia University Law School is allowing its students to reschedule their exams if they feel traumatized by the recent grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.
The school’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott, notified students of the option in an email circulated to the student body on Saturday on the eve of the December exam period.
“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” Mr. Scott’s letter said. “For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”
As a result, “students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition [head of registration services] Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled,” he wrote.
Now, I’m sure some students do feel aggrieved by the decisions, but a healthy cynicism of the justice system isn’t a terrible thing to develop early on. And frankly, students who feel that their performance on an examination will be impared because of events that happened over a week ago and not directly to them, should be perhaps postpone their examinations indefinitely until they consider whether they can hack it in not just the legal profession but any profession that doesn’t involve fingerpainting.
The email also specifies that the school will make a “trauma specialist” available, and professors will expand their office hours, not to talk about whether students will be expected to learn the Mailbox Rule in order to pass the Bar Exam, but to talk about the implications of any officer’s non-indictment. Hopefully, a Criminal Law or Criminal Procedure professor will also be on hand to explain how grand juries work, what a “probable cause” standard of evidence looks like, how an affirmative defense operates, and question the general foundations of legal education at Columbia.