Reinstate One Optional CR Policy

Reinstate One Optional CR Policy

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New York Law School Student Body started this petition to new york law school

Dear Dean Crowell and the New York Law School Administration,

 

We write this collective letter to express our deepest concerns regarding the protocols of remote learning this semester. It is an understatement to say that this semester has been challenging in ways that are unimaginable. While students and staff have been working tremendously hard to overcome these obstacles, it would only be fair for the administration to provide support. This petition respectfully requests that the administration reinstates the grading policy from Fall 2020.

 

Covid-19 has taken its toll on the student body in more ways than are comprehendible. First, many students have lost loved ones due to the spread of this deadly virus. It is an almost insurmountable hardship to try to mourn the loss of a loved one, while being trapped in your home with minimal social interaction. When this is paired with the unparalleled stress of achieving academic success on final exams, we fear that the outcome will be detrimental to the well-being of many of our valued peers. Not only does this endanger the health of our student body, but it also threatens the livelihood of their families. As a result, many students have had to take a more active role in the financial situation within their households. This added stress will certainly affect some students more than others, depending on the dynamics of their individual families. Therefore, it would be unjust to expect that a student’s grade on a final exam is reflective of their knowledge of the substantive law. Simply disregarding a student’s unique situation in a time of tragedy would be a great disservice, which will have a lasting impact on their academic and professional careers.

 

When you enter law school, you enroll with the presumption that YOU will determine your own academic success. You have the mentality that if you put the work in, then you will rise to the top. This includes being an active participant in class, and diligently preparing for final exams. However, simply following these guidelines does not correlate to academic success for remote learning during a global pandemic. There are various confounding variables that make the playing field uneven. For example, if you are privileged enough to have access to numerous monitors and a quiet learning environment, then this will undoubtedly assist you with time management. Contrarily, if you are restricted to your home, and you share a two-bedroom apartment with your entire family that is out of work, then this will distract your ability to learn at a high-level. It was this inequity that led the administration to implement one optional CR policy from last semester. Not only does the traditional grading system discriminate against a subset of less privileged students, but also we fear that it will have a more lasting impact on their well-being and professional success.

 

We acknowledge and commend the administration for making efforts to provide an environment that is conducive to learning. We are grateful that we are able to advance our legal educations through this unprecedented time. However, we believe that it is unfair to implement the traditional law school grading system. Various organizations have made accommodations in light of the hardships of remote learning during a global pandemic. For example, the New York Bar Exam was administered remotely, but the quantity of questions was drastically reduced. The bar examiners acknowledged that an online bar exam was unprecedented, and would provide challenges that the students were not able to adequately prepare for. This modification was implemented because it would be unjust to give applicants the same test conditions as year’s prior. This is analogous to our current situation because our preparedness is being limited by factors that are out of our control. When a prospective employer views our transcripts in the future, he or she will not be thinking of Covid-19 if they see a traditional grade. However, if they see CR instead of a potentially damming grade, they will be signaled that we were able to overcome the adversity of conquering law school in one of the most difficult social climates in our nation’s history. The employment opportunities for new attorneys have been drastically limited in recent months, and implementing a traditional grading system will create additional challenges, specifically for those students who are more directly affected by the pandemic.

 

Overall, the grading system that was offered last semester was a brilliant accommodation. It offered students the opportunity to challenge themselves to achieve the highest grade possible, while also being cognizant of the fact that this would be unattainable for some students due to factors that were out of their control. In light of this fact, we do not see a coherent argument that favors the decision to switch back to a traditional grading system.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to allow our voices to be heard. We hope that this letter has illuminated the issues that are shared amongst our student body. We remain prideful of attending New York Law School, and are hopeful that you will take our concerns into consideration.

 

Please see the attached petition, which has been supported by members of the NYLS community. Thank you.

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