Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress: BLS Student Audit 2012 – Part I – PSG Cuts; Tuition Hikes
Last week, a few representatives from the American Bar Association set up in the Moot Court room from 5:00 – 6:00 PM on a Monday. They wanted to hear students’ opinions of our law school. How many of us showed up? I don’t know—7? 8? I know that when I arrived I was the 4th.
I used this opportunity to lobby for a napping room, and for a broad mandate to all law schools that class sizes must be reduced if the legal market can ever hope to be fixed. BLS may or may not already be implementing such a mandate—and the size of next year’s 1L class should help determine that. I also mentioned a brief story about the public service grant from last year.
If you were here, perhaps you remember the one day “push” to get a petition signed by as many students as possible. Perhaps you remember our argument—that we had counted on the $5,000 being there for the summer for which we applied—and to remove it with the simple explanation that “the government cut our funding,” when there are plenty of other ways to make up for an $800,000 shortfall (the approximate cost of providing $2,000 extra per student), does not indicate a willingness on the part of the administration to really help students manage the cost of law school.
BLS may, or may not have inflated their “9-months after graduation employment” numbers. Big whoop. So has everyone else. BLS participated in the merit scholarship “scheme” where falling beneath the 40% mark in your class meant a reduction in your scholarship. Big whoop. Some schools are even tougher—33% was my barrier everywhere else. BLS may, or may have not, participated in “scholarship stacking,” which is a vague practice that involves packaging all of the highest “scholarship earning” students in the same section, or same larger section, first year. This is more evil than fair, but difficult to prove (though not impossible). And I do know that Section 16 from last year was a powerhouse.
New York Law School’s case is getting dismissed. Brooklyn’s case is getting dismissed (I’m calling it right here) because they can’t allege anything truly audacious—their only hope is the “scholarship stacking” argument—but even that might fly as a reasonable business judgment. BLS is a 501(c)(3) and it should not care about profits. But this is the #65 law school in the nation, and keeping such a high public profile costs a lot of money. The cleanest way to make up for the shortfall without harming any existing funding or expenses is to raise tuition.
Tuition increased from $46,610 to $48,416 this year. 3Ls did not bear the cost of the increase—but 2Ls did. And 1Ls find themselves in the fortunate position of a smaller class by 100 students, and the unfortunate position of being the final class to have the 40% scholarship renewal barrier imposed upon them.
It is worth noting that I have not seen any student movement to reinstate the $5,000 summer PSG. It is a fact of life that we accept. I would like to argue that it is not unreasonable for us to seek this additional funding. With the new system, students may be tempted to work 25 hours per week at the internship and 15 hours at some other place that might pay and make up for the shortfall. This may include non-legal work like in a restaurant or something, and the school is not exactly encouraging students to do this, but they should know that students will be doing this, and that these sorts of jobs are not going to make them look any more attractive to prospective employers. Thus, students are left with a choice – work 40 hours a week at one place – 15 of those for free – or try to make up the difference. The school should not force students to make such a Hobson’s Choice when it is clear that other funds may be easily diverted to the cause (look, for example, at BLSPI, and how they fund scholarships….by getting students drunk and convincing them it’s a really good idea to spend $900 to have dinner with Geraldo, or $3,000 with the commissioner of the NHL….). The result is that students need to think more creatively and do even more legwork to best avoid financial disaster. But I hate students that complain about how busy they are. We all are. Get over it.
BLS is not the only law school to hike its tuition, and it has to stay competitive. We cannot blame BLS for everything, but we can try to urge it to be different from other schools and implement some really original policies. It’s my hope that the change will be coming soon.
Christopher J. Knorps is a 2L at BLS. He enjoys studying bankruptcy law. You may find his other work at flyinghouses.blogspot.com. Like Jamie Moyer, he believes that people should never count themselves out. You may fail, and fail, and fail, and people may call you a freak and a loser who doesn’t know when to call it quits, but when you are still pitching at age 49 in the Rockies starting rotation, you will have the last laugh.