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Columbia Law Students May Postpone Exams Over Grand Juries' Decisions

By    |   Monday, 08 Dec 2014 03:51 PM

New York's Columbia University Law School has allowed students to postpone taking their final exams because of the "traumatic effects" of recent grand jury decisions exonerating white police officers involved in the deaths of black suspects.

In a written statement obtained by Powerline Blog, interim Dean Robert Scott writes, "In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled."

The announcement comes as the result of a request to the school from the black students association, Powerline notes, and is related to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of Eric Garner in New York, allegedly caused by a chokehold applied by a white police officer during an arrest, the decision by grand juries in both cases to not return indictments and the resulting protests.

The dean's statement reads, "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.

"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."

Along with allowing students to postpone their law school finals, Columbia will provide access to trauma specialist Dr. Shirley Matthews to speak with students, hold extra faculty hours for students to discuss the cases with teachers and hold a "reading group, speaker series and/or longitudinal teach-in next semester" to “formulate a response to the implications, including racial meanings, of these non-indictments," the Daily Caller reports.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that Columbia law professor Eben Moglen said the "accommodation may be unusual but is understandable, saying the grand jury decisions raise questions about law enforcement, civil rights and equal treatment in America that have a particular impact in a law school."

So far, Columbia has accommodated all requests made to delay final exams but Nancy Goldfarb, law school spokesperson, declined to tell the Journal how many exams have been postponed, with over 100 staging a "die-in" Thursday.

Law student Stephanie Amoako told the Spectator, "Business as usual can't continue, our frivolities can't continue, while people are dying without reason and impunity."

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New York's Columbia University Law School has allowed students to postpone taking their final exams because of the "traumatic effects" of recent grand jury decisions exonerating white police officers involved in the deaths of black suspects.
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Monday, 08 Dec 2014 03:51 PM
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