Law Students, Traumatized By Grand Jury Decisions, Demand… Exam Delays


Public Domain

Students are so coddled by the feelings-protection regime at university campuses that they now believe disheartening national news developments—such as the grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases—entitle them to final exam extensions.

To be clear, the grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who choked Garner to death is indeed a travesty of justice. It's a horrible thing—for the victim and his family—and a reminder that racism endures in law enforcement agencies around the country, which need reform.

Why on earth that means Columbia University law students should be granted relief from their coursework, I have no idea. But the university evidently agreed with the conveniently traumatized students, according to Fox News:

This won't prepare them for tough judges, unscrupulous clients or merciless partners at the law firms they hope to work for. 

Columbia Law School has agreed to delay final exams for students who face "trauma" and disillusionment following two recent, racially-charged cases in which grand juries declined to indict white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men. And now, students at Harvard and Georgetown want the same dispensation, also saying they just can't face their tests in the wake of the grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York.

"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 to protect fairness, due process and equality," Robert E. Scott, Columbia's interim dean, told the school in an email Saturday.

David Bernstein, a professor of law at George Mason University, described Columbia's decision as "infantilizing." He explained that if any students received special extensions, all would soon require them:

"In an understandable effort to show sensitivity to students upset by the grand jury decisions, Columbia has unfortunately chosen to infantilize them, suggesting that adult law students can't handle hearing about perceived injustices in the world.  I can't imagine why any law student would admit that hearing about a seemingly unjust legal decision incapacitates them; how would such people function as lawyers, given that many verdicts deeply disappoint advocates for one side or the other? Meanwhile, to the extent that Columbia students take advantage of delaying their exams, they are getting an unfair advantage - that is, more time to study - over students who don't claim the delay."

Unsurprisingly, this malady of entitlement has spread to other universities. According to

"This is more than a personal emergency. This is a national emergency," Harvard Law School students wrote in a letter to the school's administration over the weekend. In a similar letter, Georgetown Law School students wrote: "We, students of color, cannot breathe. … We charge you to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter."

Most schools have policies that allow students who are observing religious holidays, have suffered a death in the family, or have a medical emergency to reschedule their exams. Yet the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases could signify the first time schools have been asked to move exams because of a grand jury's decisions. It's also forcing law schools to evaluate individually whether students are traumatized enough that their exam grades would suffer should they be asked to press forward.

If law students are upset about the grand jury decisions, perhaps they should rededicate themselves to their coursework in hopes of one day working to reform the system or standing up for those abused by it. But if disappointing legal decisions render them truly unable to function… well, they aren't going to make very good lawyers.

In related news, the president of Smith College had to apologize for writing "all lives matter" instead of "black lives matter," and an associate director of the journalism program at the University of Iowa thinks an offensive art display should be banned.

Perhaps today is the day we can formally announce the completion of a transformation begun long ago: higher education has officially become bumper bowling. Colleges should cease handing out diplomas and instead award participant ribbons.

NEXT: WATCH: "CIA is Lying," Says Dem Senator

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Everyone gets a ribbon

    And a pony!

    1. What about a fucking hat tip?

      1. All the hat tips are belong to sarcasmic. He must be donating a few hundred thousand a month to Reason. Or maybe they just like pictures of skinny girls. I dunno.

  2. Higher education is a milquetoast farm, bro. It's a compliance factory that spits out submissive jellybeans all across a country perversely built on brawn, brainpower, guts, and a huge motherfucking middle finger stabbed in the face of authority.

  3. I was in 7th grade on 9/11, and we finished out the school day, went home, did our homework, and went to school the next day. Garner's killer getting off is bad, but 9/11 was pretty fucking upsetting.

    1. I was at UF while Rolling was doing his decapitation thing and we didn't miss any classes. Hell I think they only officially cancelled half a day of classes when hurricane Andrew took out a fair swath of the campus (though in all honesty, they did give professors the leeway to cancel their own classes if they couldn't make it, or if power was still out in their classrooms and they needed it to teach).

      Also I am old.

      1. You're old? I was in school on 9/11 too. However, I was teaching the class.

        1. I was working.

          We quit early, because everyone was watching the TV coverage anyway.

          I think some people took the next day off, but the office was open. By the next day after that, I recall it being pretty much business as usual.

        2. Same here...250 students in an introductory economics class...

          When I told the class what had happened (some didn't know), three ran from the room screaming.

          Not a good day...

    2. I was in eighth grade, otherwise same.

    3. I was a freshman in college. Some people skipped classes to watch the news and some professors let their classes watch the news in class but most did not and continued on normally. That was pretty much it, the next day classes went on as scheduled.

    4. I was on year 7 of my post-college professional life. I'm super old (for a woman).

      1. I'm a year and a change younger than my wife. So I'm never allowed to feel old.

    5. At first I was going to mention something about how old this made me feel, but then I did the math and realized I'm only 5 years old than you.

    6. I was 30 and working in manufacturing and trying to figure out why something wasn't working. Turns out it was a leaking check valve.

    7. Jesus, how did everyone get so young.

      I had to go meet my electrician at a job, so I didn't have the luxury to watch the second building fall down, gripping TV as it was.

    8. I was in 7th grade as well. We were taking standardized tests, and we got an announcement from the principal, but that was it. Other than that, it was business as usual.

  4. I think Mason is the last bastion of actual academic freedom in this country.

    1. New Hampshire's academic freedom laws are quite good. You can expose your yourself to a woman and her underaged daughter in a supermarket parking lot and still keep your job.

      1. Why do you hate the 1st amendment?

      2. He was obviously doing research.

        And I am familiar with that parking lot. No way he was the only guy exposing himself there.

  5. If I ever need to hire a lawyer, I'll make sure they're not Columbia, Georgetown, or Harvard class of 2014 - 2017.

    1. Now, that's unfair - just don't hire the ones who got extensions on their exams for reasons other than observing Yom Kippur or Christmas.

    2. If I ever need to hire a lawyer, I'll make sure they're not Columbia, Georgetown, or Harvard class of 2014 - 2017.

      I would advise leaving that second date open.

      1. Give me a break! Does no one understand that Columbia University is literally ranked as the most rigorous university in the US? The stress here is extreme, resulting in yearly suicides as well as many other drop outs, leaves of absence, and transfers. Why hell shouldn't our own university decide to light up on at least some of us once in a while?

        And on top of that, these people are supposed to be studying law, aka the system, which OBVIOUSLY we Reason readers don't think is that great. Columbia students--not just law students--are at risk of severe stress, dropping out or killing themselves and if ever there's a time for Law students to drop out or fuck up wouldn't it be now?

        1. Looking over the list of Columbia University suicides, the last law student reported is from 1930.

          Assume an average of 150 students per year times 3 years times 84 and we're looking at no suicides in the last 35,000 years there, which would be an exceptionally low suicide rate, a fifth of the American rate overall.

          STFU and stop whining.

    3. Make sure you don't hire the Columbia law prof who was sleeping with his adult daughter*, either.

      Unless, you know, you're into that kind of thing.

      *Not the Woody Allen/Soon-Yi special technicality-type either!

    4. lawyers? Half of these fuckers will be bucking for govt jobs and/or seeking public office. They don't want to represent you; they want to rule you. And apparently you need it being so mean about their feewings.

  6. Colleges should cease handing out diplomas and instead award participant ribbons.

    What's the difference?

    1. What's the difference?

      Don't you actually have to show up to earn a participant ribbon?

      1. Well played.

  7. Those most betrayed by this decision are the serious Columbia law students who wouldn't *dream* of using unjust legal proceedings as an excuse for delaying important business.

    [bleep] these administrators up the [bleep] for devaluating the education and reputation of the serious, non-retarded students.

    1. I suspect *most* of the students are aware the justice system will such balls from time to time, and won't use that an excuse to miss important deadlines or beg for an extension.

      1. suck not such

        1. +1 John typo

      2. Jeebus, if anyone should know that the justice system periodically fucks the dog, its law students.

        This shouldn't have been a surprise. IF its such a shock to them that they are traumatized, then their legal education is truly, truly, crappy.

      3. Seriously, if you believe "that the law is a fundamental pillar of society to protect fairness, due process and equality", then being a lawyer is just going to lead to a lifetime of heart-ache.

        Or, you'll cynically become a crusading prosecutor, famous for putting people on death-row.

    2. They'll have to attach a footnote to their resumes: "Took exams on time despite temptation from idiot administrators for a 'social justice' extension."

    3. Yeah, if I was an adult student at these colleges I'd be protesting this.

  8. I can't be bothered to RTFA (quick skim), but in case this wasn't in the PLETHORA of links, I thought Charles CW Cook had the best take on this travesty. Fuck these entitled little pricks. I'd personally piss on their Corn Flakes? if I had the opportunity.

  9. As always, if you give the lazy losers of this world an excuse to grab for more ability to be lazy, they will take it. This shouldn't surprise anyone. They're doing it because...they know they'll get what they ask for. It's that simple. If the administrations of these schools laughed in the face of the first person to ask for this, it would all be dropped very fast.

    It may seem like the students are being infantilized, but what it really is is that the lazy students have figured out that the administrators are spineless pussies who they can push over. And the lazy are never so industrious as when they are figuring out a scheme to enable them to be lazy.

    1. I'd normally be ok with this as when they get in to the real world normally the precious little snowflakes will end up running back to mom and dad. But the problem is that the real world is starting to resemble the fake world of college life, and these ingrates may never get that wake up call.

      Thus they end up turning in to that asshole professor from Harvard who had that beef for $4 with the Chinese takeout place.

      This is our world now. Fuck.

      1. That asshole with the beef for $4 is a millionaire. He may be a prick but he isn't stupid or lazy.

        The world can't be changed into some version of college, no matter how hard some idiots try. Not until they have god-like powers, at least, and if someone is going to get godhead, it's going to be me because Satan owes me.

        1. Ima back up Epi on this - Satan does owe you, bruh.

        2. The world can't be changed into some version of college, no matter how hard some idiots try.

          Someone lost a few games of Alpha Centauri to the University of Planet.

  10. Students traumatized by grand jury decisions. College presidents apologizing for saying that "all lives matter." Art that is anti-racism being deemed offensive. It's enough to make one think that higher education is being subsidized with tax dollars and student loans. When the higher ed bubble pops, people are going to ask, "why didn't we see that coming?"

  11. DONT LAUGH = This might be the big one

  12. In an understandable effort

    Stop right there. This isn't understandable. I can understand why someone would be upset. But I cannot understand how this qualifies as an understandable effort to help them. Because it doesn't It's kowtowing to a bunch of children. The proper and understandable way to help them is to use this as a teachable moment: the world doesn't revolve around their feelings, and sometimes you have to suck it up and do things you would rather not do. Or, you can fail in life.

  13. My question is, how many years do folks think it will be before this shit starts oozing out into the rest of the world.

    1. It's already here, compadre. My boss has told me about some of our younger colleagues making crazy special snowflake-type demands, like not wanting to use their accrued vacation time to look after sick kids, etc.

      1. Well, you'd be doing your fair share and volunteering your own vacation days to take care of those sick kids, if you weren't a kochtopus controlled one percenter. After all, kids belong to the whole community, whether you want them or not.

        1. Then they can come clean my house.

      2. I have clients that only communicate with me via their parents. Not like college kid got a public intoxication and needs an out of town attorney but things like child custody, assault and battery and my landlord is going to sue me because I broke the lease.

  14. Seriously though, how many students are really asking for this? IMO, it's the administration's fault for caving in. I'm reminded of my own college years where inevitably, a classmate would approach the teacher after a test and basically say, "You gave me an 89, that's practically a 90, can't you give me an A instead of a B?"

    The students (a certain percentage of students) have always been like this. The students haven't changed, it's the administration.

    1. I know professors and TAs who have been in that position. They cave in because they don't feel like it is worth their effort to argue with a kid over something that is unlikely to affect their grades. I always ask them if they'll let me tell the kids to grow up. They never do. In the future I think I'll just recite "If you give a mouse a cookie"

      1. But you don't have to argue! An 89 is a B and a 90 is an A. It's like today's parents arguing with their 3 year olds -- you don't have to "reason" with them.

        1. This.

          I just had Institutional Research look over my grading distribution for the past few years and they were like "Holy Shit! How did you manage a bell curve?" Umm...don't inflate grades?

    2. The students haven't changed, it's the administration.

      I don't think it's a either-or. Character (what you're talking about) isn't an innate quality, but a series of habits. Even if the administration enabling this, it comes to define the character of the students.

      1. Maybe, but all I'm saying -- in DEFENSE of students -- is that the vocal minority has always been a minority. I think the sea change has been in catering to them. And, like the legendary "silent majority", the 95% or 90% or whatever of students who aren't asking for favors don't appreciate the special attention that the squeaky wheels get.

    3. I think I can help here, I have a degree in mathematics. These are numbers so 89 isn't practically 90, it's 89. It's not 88, nor 90, and 92 is right out. 89 is the number, and the number shall be 89.

    4. What libertarian said - in this dead thread. There's always one or two pain in the ass students who over rated themselves and thing they deserve a better grade.

  15. When you are actively teaching a group of humans to be perpetual victims who are offended by everything and entitled to be in a state free of any, even slightest offense, what could you expect to be the results?

    Hey, exams offend me, I feel unsafe and afraid! What if I fail? What if someone does better than me, I'd feel unsafe!

    Hey, I have this degree now, but I don't want to work! Work frightens me! What if I fail? What if someone doesn't like my work? That would trigger me! I'm entitled to what I want, just give it to me!

    It's just too easy for sane people to see where this is going. Our institutions of higher learning are rapidly transforming from turning out the next leaders in innovation, to becoming bastions of idiocy that will turn out whiny entitled emotional cripples who have no useful skills and are a net drain on society.

    1. Hey, I have this degree now, but I don't want to work!

      There's an Obamacare for that!

  16. "The firm of Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe issued a warning to Columbia law students that if they get a Brown/Garner extension on their exams, they will not be considered for job at the firm, not even as janitors. 'Our janitor never asked for an extension on his GED because of Lou Reed's death - unlike the janitor, this firm won't clean up our associates' shit.'"

    1. Lou Reed is dead?

      1. Not really, but don't tell his insurance company.

  17. You know, I have a different take on this. Since I would estimate that approximately 0 of these students asking for exam extensions have actually in any way been inhibited in preparing for the tests, and actually just want an extension for the sake of having an extension, then what we have here is a collection of law students taking an exercise in making a patently dishonest argument with a straight face and with gusto.

    They will make excellent lawyers.

    1. They will be particularly good at obtaining evidence of mental anguish, emotional distress, and other tortious but hard-to-establish harms.

  18. With all the griefer trolls so much in evidence today, I thought I'd just focus on this for a minute.

    1. A cute Christmas story?

      Baa, humbug!

    2. You can't use a cute pygmy goat to cheer up libertarians. Most of them will just think about ways to cook it, or worse!

      1. Fuck that, I totally want a pet pygmy goat. Preferably of the fainting variety. It would still be tougher than an Ivy League law student.

        1. I can get you a pygmy goat any time. I don't think they faint, though.

      2. Anything that bounces like that ain't gonna make good eatin'. Unless you braise it to oblivion.

        Just let the little bouncy fucker live, and enjoy the bounciness for years to come!

        1. Get 3 of them. Pygmy goat juggling!

  19. the police officer who choked Garner to death

    Guilty as charged (in the media), eh?

    Are there no plausible alternative theories as to the cause of death?

    Was the chokehold tightened after the victim clearly vocalized "I can't breathe" eleven times? Can someone thus vocalize who's being suffocated by choking?

    1. Tell you what, shithead: we'll pay a hyped up cop to chokehold you for a while, and you can relate the experience to us. If you live. I'm sure it's no big deal, right, tuff gai?

    2. So he wasn't choking, and he's actually still alive? What a relief!

      And I bet all the people who supposedly "died" in the Holocaust must still be alive, too!

      1. Fake scandal

    3. The death was ruled a homicide.

      1. Strictly, homicide isn't automatically a crime.

        But in this case...

        1. The OP specifically mentioned "alternative theories as to the cause of death". The cause of death is officially homicide. There won't be any other causes of death to come from this case, regardless of some crackpot's "theory".

          1. Well, Garner was selling contraband without submitting the due protection money to the ruling elite. So one of the King's men applied a 'penaltax'.

          2. At least one responder actually read my comment; thanks.

            There were several cops involved in keeping the victim down. One or more of them may have had weight on his back or side, compressing his thorax.

            I don't question the fact of homicide, nor do I defend the lack of indictment. But I think a sense of justice requires withholding pronouncements such as "the police officer who choked Garner to death" without evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. IMHO the victim's vocalizing introduces reasonable doubt, absence evidence that I (and the public) hasn't seen.

            Had Robby written "allegedly choked" I would not have commented.

            1. Here is what you said:

              "Can someone thus vocalize ["I can't breathe"] who's being suffocated by choking?"

              Based on this case, I'd say yes.

              I was just able to hold my throat in such a way as to articulte the phrase "I can't breather" without being able to breathe.

              So who am I going to believe, you, or my own direct experience?

              1. So you are certain, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the chokehold and not pressure by other cops on his thorax was what suffocated him?

        2. Strictly, homicide isn't automatically a crime.

          But it does indicate that at least one person caused the death of another person.

    4. You know, if you start choking somebody, and as an immediate consequence they die, and they would not have died at that moment were it not for the aforementioned choking, I don't think it's going out on a limb to say the man was choked to death.

    5. "clearly vocalized "I can't breathe" eleven times"

      "He's faking it!"
      "He's faking it!"
      "He's faking it!"
      "He's faking it!"
      "He's faking it!"
      "He's faking it!"
      "He's faking it!"
      "He's faking it!"
      "He's faking it!"
      "He's faking it!"
      "He's faking it!"

      "Now he's pretending to be dead, the malingerer!"

    6. I haven't watched the video, but I've read that it's the cops sitting on Garner that suffocated him, not the choke hold. It's not the first time that something like this has happened. Even cuffing an overweight person and positioning them in a certain way can suffocate them. The callousness of the cops, as seen in a second video, as they stand around after Garner is unconscious, is all we need to know about our "protect and serve" boys in blue.

      1. Just so, although I would substitute "about those" for "about our".

        1. Here's what you said:

          "Can someone thus vocalize ["I can't breathe"] who's being suffocated by choking?"

          ANSWER: Yes.

  20. "Perhaps today is the day we can formally announce the completion of a transformation begun long ago: higher education has officially become bumper bowling. Colleges should cease handing out diplomas and instead award participant ribbons."


  21. a reminder that racism endures in law enforcement agencies around the country

    That may be the case but was it racism that motivated the deaths of Brown and Garner?

    1. I think that if one were to tally up all of the police abuse stories here on H&R over the last few years, and do some calculations, that the police would prove to be fairly equal opportunity abusers.

    2. I'm not a mind reader, so I can't say for sure, but I'd bet that it had something to do with Garner, anyway. I just can't imagine 7 cops jumping on a slobby fat-ass white dude that quickly or brutally for being upset and moving his arms around.

  22. You get more of what you reward. Reward whiny entitlement...

    1. Having been a dog trainer for the last 10 years, I can say the operant conditioning quadrants have vastly helped me in my human relationships as well.

      (Google does not recognize "operant" as a word.)

  23. Are there no plausible alternative theories as to the cause of death?

    Nope. The only quasi-plausible alternative theory is that he died of a heart attack.

    Brought on by being, umm, choked.

    Can someone thus vocalize who's being suffocated by choking?

    Yes, they can. Try it. Have some put a chokehold on you that leaves you not enough air. Try to say "I can't breathe". You'll discover that you can.

    1. I think the dipshit is confusing choking, where no you cannot vocalize, with a choke hold, where you obviously can.

      1. See, the cops were really trying to perform the heimlich...

        but they weren't trained properly.

        :. this is the American Red Cross' fault.

      2. Yeah, that has to be it. Dipshit seems to think that you can't suffocate unless your airway is 100% blocked off.

      3. The cop had no referee to control and abstain his grip. Therefore, unless cops have trained MMA referees standing over them they have ZERO FUCKING business choke holding anyone's throat.

    2. The only quasi-plausible alternative theory is that he died of a heart attack.

      OK. So the theory that the other cops were, with their weight, compressing his thorax and preventing inspiration is absurd on its face, and anyone who has any doubt at all that the chokehold cop was the sole cause of death is a shithead and a dipshit.

      Got it.

  24. "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 to protect fairness, due process and equality"

    Good excuse to not pay one's taxes, too.

    1. the law protects fairness and equality?

      1. Sure, just ask any Senator, it works equally and fairly for them.

  25. In a similar letter, Georgetown Law School students wrote: "We, students of color, cannot breathe. ? We charge you to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter."

    "I hereby so acknowledge. I charge you to take your examinations as scheduled."

    /e-mail from school administrator with balls

    1. One of my grandfathers died right before my first set of 1L exams. I only asked to delay one exam because it was scheduled for the day of the funeral.

  26. The US is approaching French levels of pussification.

  27. Can we get someone better than David Bernstein to argue the "just suck it up" side? I happen to agree with his point, but the thought of being on his side of an issue is disconcerting.

  28. Blame the T-ball games where they didn't keep score. I was grumbling back in the early 90s that we'd progress to a hurt-feelers-based society if it kept up. It kept up. We now have a hurt-feelers-based society.

    Does that mean I was right?

    1. Being right is racist and could make other's feel emotionally unsafe.

      1. I suggest we create a safe space for the hurt-feelers-based society. We'll built a tall fence topped with barbed wire and armed guards. You know, to keep us animals out.

      2. Being 'white' you mean. Because us 'white' people have no fucking clue how it feels to be demeaned and oppressed.

  29. "[the failure to indict in Garner's death is] a reminder that racism endures in law enforcement agencies around the country" it didn't remind me of that at all.

  30. I am still trying to figure out how you fight for equality by demanding special exemptions and rights. These students claim they have been traumatized by events that the witnessed on TV but were not actually involved in. Why do they think they deserve to be give a delay for exams but everyone else should take them as scheduled. Is that not the very definition of discrimination?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.