Columbia Law School is allowing students to postpone their final exams this month if they feel unnerved by the recent grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men.
The policy was announced by the school’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott, in an email on Saturday to the school community. A small number of students have received postponements, a Columbia spokeswoman, Elizabeth Schmalz, said on Monday, though she declined to say how many.
In his email, Mr. Scott wrote that following existing policies for “trauma during exam period,” students who felt their performance could suffer because of the decisions in the Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island cases could request a delay.
“The grand juries’ determinations to return nonindictments 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,” he wrote. “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.”
Other schools have announced or been asked to consider similar policies.
You know, a lot of people were upset about the Ferguson verdict and especially the Garner verdict. But you know what? We learn to go on with our lives despite trauma that does not personally involve us. And if this is going to “shake your faith” in the legal system so badly that you can’t take an exam, what the hell are you going to do when you’re the attorney on the business end of a bad jury decision? Putting aside the specifics of these two cases, no one has ever claimed that our justice system is perfect. If you’re exposed to it for any length of time, you’re going to have to deal with crushing disappointment. In fact, there is no profession in the world where one does not have to deal, at some point, with disappointment. There is no person in the world who will go through life with dealing without pain a lot more intense than a grand jury verdict involving strangers.
What’s next? Time off for final exams if their team loses the Super Bowl? I’ve had it with college and graduate school students who are made of eggshells. Everyone’s “offended”. Everyone has “triggers”. Everyone is obsessed with “microagressions“. We have thousands of students around this country who can’t get through a day without a fainting couch. Amy Alkon:
This behavior is coming from students who have grown up in what, at any other time in history, would be considered luxurious comfort. And that is true of almost most people who grow up in America, even those who do not grow up in middle-class families.
I believe that so much comfort — and the notion that even the slightest discomfort is a form of injustice — has played a role in both many people’s unwillingness to stand up for our civil liberties and in the witch hunts going on on campus. Oh, the horror that a professor would correct your grammar!
And yes, there’s obviously all sorts of multi-culti victim studies-think behind this, too — of course — but I think the perceived “right” to comfort at all times is something we’ve overlooked.
But you know what? I strongly suspect this is bullshit. I would bet the euros left in my wallet that this is mainly law students trying to weasel out a few more study days. And I suspect the school knows this, if their faculty aren’t complete morons (always a possibility). I suspect they’ve allowed this because they want to “make a statement” about the verdicts.