by ursavoice

Curve Your Enthusiasm: A Call for Academic Fairness

Lauren Davis

The faculty recently voted to change the academic rules in three areas, and according to the Curriculum Committee, the changes will go into effect this semester rather than next semester. Although the changes are not necessarily draconian, the timing of their implementation certainly betrays the notions of fair notice we have been learning about since law school began. In light of this, I urge the administration to implement these restrictions next semester rather than more than three-quarters into this semester. I hope other students will join me in holding the law school accountable.

Rule IV.C.1 and 2 finally clarify which courses must impose a median and which courses are exempt. However, what parts 1 and 2 giveth, part 3 taketh away: “In all courses to which the mandatory median set forth in paragraph 1 does not apply, the course median shall be between A- (3.7) and B (3.0).” In other words, a median is still required: At least 50 percent of students in any class—even courses seemingly exempt from the mandatory median—will receive an A- or lower at best and a B or lower at worst. This is strange because the faculty voted in March 2009 that a median would not be required in certain classes. Counter to its position in March 2009, the faculty recently adopted this change, subjecting students in all courses to the restrictions imposed by a mandatory median, regardless of class size or method of evaluation. If you feel this amendment, the purpose of which remains unexplained, could unfairly lower your Lawyering Skills or upper level course grade, please consider emailing or meeting with the administration to voice your concern.

Moreover, Rule IV.F.2 specifies the passing grade in a Credit/No Credit class: “In order to receive credit for a course taken Credit/No Credit, a student must obtain a minimum grade of C- (1.7).” This recent update does not negatively affect me because I asked about the standards at the beginning of the semester and was told that I had to earn a C or higher to receive credit. Therefore, I did not detrimentally rely on the understandable assumption that a student simply had to pass with a D- or higher to receive credit. I told a handful of people about the standard, but I did not tell the entire class because I was unsure how reliable the answer I received was (the standard, after all, was not clarified in the rules until last week). If any 2Ls are currently enrolled in a Credit/No Credit course and did not receive adequate notice about this modification of the rules, please voice your concern.

One of the greatest opportunities at this law school is the ability of students to build an institution and set standards for future classes. I am often amazed by the support and guidance we receive from the staff, faculty, and administration. It is out of respect for this institution and its quest to build the law school of the twenty-first century that I demand academic fairness.