American Bar Association / ABA, Disasters / Emergencies, Law Schools

NYU Law Students Can Blame Sandy (And The ABA) For Their Super-Long Classes



TO: The Law School community
FROM: Assistant Dean Michelle Kirkland and Vice Dean Randy Hertz
RE: Making up the class time we lost as a result of Hurricane Sandy
DATE: November 1, 2012

We have been exploring a variety of ways to make up the week of classes that we lost as a result of Hurricane Sandy. We need to make up the time somehow in order to comply with New York Court of Appeals rules (and thereby qualify our students to sit for the Bar Exam) and also ABA Accreditation rules.

After discussing the various options and conferring with the Dean, we have concluded that the best (or least bad) option is to revise the block grid schedule for courses so as to add the number of minutes that we need in each of the remaining classes of the semester in order to make up the lost time and reach the minimum number of credit hours required by the Court of Appeals and the ABA.

Attached is the revised schedule. We are delaying the onset of the new schedule until the week of November 12th in order to give everyone a chance to get ready for it and also to get us past the election week when many students will be out of town to work on the Presidential campaign.

As you will see, the addition of the minutes will result in moving up the start of the first class of the day from 9 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and will result in delaying the end of the initial block of evening classes from 7:50 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. (and even beyond that for a few of these courses that extend beyond the end of the block). For the handful of courses that currently meet in the even later evening block, we will work with the faculty members to find a different time of the week for your courses since the shift in class times would move your class time to 9:55 p.m. – 12:15 a.m., which is obviously out of the question.

We recognize that the revised schedule will cause hardships for many of you, and we deeply regret that. For those teachers and students who have young children, starting the school day a half-hour earlier may disrupt the systems you have put into place for bringing children to school or to day care. For the many teachers and students who have evening classes in the initial evening block, it will surely be difficult to run later into the evening. Even the mid-day time shifts will wreak havoc with faculty members’ and students’ already-existing schedules of meetings and other commitments that were built around the established class times.

We gave extensive and careful thought to other alternatives. We considered the possibility of adding a week to the semester and holding exams after the holidays, but this would be unfair to students who have made plans for the winter break and cannot now suddenly switch to studying during the break. We considered the possibility of holding make-up classes but, in order to provide enough make-up sessions, we’d have to hold make-up classes in the late evenings and on weekends, and we concluded that this would be worse for many faculty members and students than the revised block schedule.

We have also considered the possibility of asking the New York Court of Appeals and the ABA for waivers of the requirements for minimum class time. From past experience, we are not optimistic that a waiver would be granted. But, even more significant, our past experience suggests that, even if we request expedited consideration of a petition for a waiver, it could take some time to get a ruling from the Court and the ABA, and we can’t afford to wait since an adverse ruling at that point would come so late in the semester that we wouldn’t be able to catch up on the lost time by adding minutes or make-up classes. We are going to confer with the other New York City law schools that have had to cancel an entire week of classes and ask them whether they would like to join us in a joint petition for a waiver (which, we believe, would maximize our chance of success). In the event that we are able to obtain waivers and that this happens before we have reached the end of the semester, we can decide at that point whether it would make sense to return to the customary block schedule. But in the meantime, we feel that we need to take the precaution of starting to make up the lost time.

We hope that you will understand and will accept the plan as the best of the alternatives available to us at this point. We have done our best to distribute the hardships in a proportional manner across all teachers and students. That won’t make things any easier for each of you as you struggle to deal with the disruptions, but at least you will know that everyone’s doing their share to deal with the problem.

Michelle and Randy

Earlier: Will Hurricane Sandy Blow Back Finals?

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