Columbia University Gives Exam Extensions Over Grand Jury Decisions

Columbia University law school students and others around the country have asked for extensions on exams and final semester papers due to trauma over the Eric Garner and Michael Brown grand jury decisions.

An email sent over the weekend by Columbia University’s interim law school dean, Robert Scott, was obtained by numerous media outlets, including New York Magazine. Scott’s email said states that Columbia University students who are feeling “sufficiently impaired due to the effects of [recent events]” may be allowed to delay their final exams.

“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,” reads Scott’s email. He added that Columbia law school students in particular have been especially impacted by the outcome of the grand jury decisions in both the Garner and Brown cases. Both men were black and killed by white police officers — Brown in St. Louis and Garner in New York City.

“… 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,” wrote Scott.

Other prestigious law schools have taken similar steps at the request of students. At Harvard University, students asked for a number of allowances over the grand jury decision but, unlike Columbia, they did not get their wish for an exam extension. The dean of the law school will meet with them, though.

According to Legal Insurrection, law school students at the university asked for exam extensions on the basis of trauma over the grand jury decisions and the ongoing problems between police and the public.

The very lengthy letter, printed below, reads thus (in part).

“We have no faith in our justice system, which systematically oppresses black and brown people. We are afraid for our lives and for the lives of our families. We are in pain. And we are tired.”

Aside from Columbia University and Harvard, at least half a dozen other law schools around the country also asked for exam extensions. Yale, NYU, and others asked for extensions and various types of student support, though most are not giving an inch.

At Stanford Law School, students who say they have been traumatized and want some time off to reflect and join ongoing protests have been rebuffed by their departments, unlike Columbia University.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]