Not so fast...

It’s March, and for most law school 3Ls, thoughts of graduation are constant. With the semester quickly drawing to a close, 3L-itis has set in. Some of you know the symptoms all too well: extreme apathy, laziness, and a general repulsion to all things law-related. Class today? Screw it. Deadline coming up? Meh.

But just when 3Ls thought they could make it through the rest of the semester by doing only the bare minimum, a challenger appears, armed with emailed threats of sending them all back to 1L.

Apparently, some 3Ls at this first-tier law school had forgotten to fill out a form necessary for graduation. In response, an administrator took it upon himself to send out what some tipsters have construed as the most “obnoxious and sarcastic email” ever written. Except he sent the email to the wrong people….

So which law school is threatening to send graduating students back to 1L year?

This all went down at Rutgers School of Law – Newark. The 3Ls at the law school were supposed to register for graduation by March 1, and apparently some students forgot to fill out the necessary online form. Tipsters tell us that this mistake was met with “unnecessary petulance” by Vice Dean Ronald K. Chen, reflected in an email that began as follows: “Didn’t you want to graduate?”

Dean Chen continued, noting with “mild remonstrances” that 3Ls should take heed of his warnings, lest they wish to suffer the consequences:

If it was actually your desire to stay longer with us, we are very flattered, but for those of you who wish to graduate this May and sit for the July Bar exam, you need now to take some additional steps to graduate. In this fail not, upon pain of being tracked with the incoming first year class next fall and starting all over again!

The rest of his email can be read in full on the next page. Dean Chen implored students to fill out the form “with haste,” and ask the assistant campus registrar “very nicely!” to allow them to graduate this May, instead of this coming October. He ended his spiel with some Soup Nazi flair: “No completed application; no diploma!”

We get that Dean Chen was trying to be clever, but his tone really made us wonder what must be going through an administrator’s head when writing an email like this. Perhaps something along these lines: “These f**king kids, they can’t even fill out a damn form. And it’s online! They play on Facebook during my class instead of taking notes, but they can’t take the time to fill out a freakin’ form so they can graduate? This is such horsesh*t… I’ll show ‘em.”

Kidding aside, it turns out that Dean Chen got a little trigger happy when he sent out the email, because he sent it to the wrong list of students. We’re told by tipsters that the vast majority of students who received Chen’s message had already registered for graduation. Graduating students received this email from Linda Garbaccio, Assistant Dean for Academic Services, later the same day (Dean Chen name checked her in the original missive):

Please disregard Dean Chen’s e-mail of today, Tuesday, March 6, 2012, which referred to your not filing for May 2012 graduation. You were sent the message in error. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Dean G.

Linda Garbaccio
Assistant Dean for Academic Services
Rutgers University School of Law

Alas, what one tipster described as Dean Chen’s “condescension” was all for naught. Sorry for the inconvenience, Dean!


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