Bricks on the Brain

UM Law

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Alternative 2L & 3L Grading Systems

Anecdotaly, after 1L it seems that GPA's and class rankings change very little, at least at UM Law. Sure, there are probably a few students that make big gains and losses, but for the most part not much changes.

If this is true, then the current exam-style grading of 2Ls and 3Ls is by all appearances quite wasteful. The stress and annoyance to the students is obvious. But even professors probably could use grading time more productively elsewhere. So why do we bother?

One solution might be to make grades optional for 2Ls and/or 3Ls. As I understand it, presently we get to elect pass/fail for at most 2 courses, and the majority of students don't use them. Why not invert the system, i.e. grades must be opted into. Such a system could be supplemented by requiring one graded writing assignment per semester.

The goal would be this: students are basically surveying legal areas, but focusing on one legal topic per semester to write on in-depth. I dare say many employers would rather judge a law student by her work on 4 intensive legal writings capable of review. What do they get now? The opinions of 16 batty law professors who spent 15-20 minutes deciphering chicken scratch in a blue book or two? Profs could basically skim all the pass-fail exams, grade the few that elect grades, then focus on a certain number of papers per semester.

The above is just a rough thumbnail sketch of what an alternative grading system could look like...but it seems most UM students and profs would agree that the current system is outdated and broken.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Neutral? Another Evil Union Should be Stopped

According to a recent email we all received from UM President Shalala, the University has taken a "neutral" stance on the current effort of UNICCO employees to unionize. UNICCO is the company the University uses to maintain the grounds, i.e. janitorial labor. Neutral? Why?

How can it possibly be in the best interests of the University or its students if the UNICCO workers unionize? Unions=higher labor costs, inability to fire incompetent workers, corruption, and a whole host of other evils. Isn't the UM President's job to look out for the best interests of the University and its students?

Even if one supports unionization in spirit (i.e. you're a dopey marxist bleeding heart), from an employer's viewpoint there is nothing good about unions. One could argue that faced with possible unionization of its labor force, corporate management owes its shareholders a duty to use all legal means necessary to stymie unionization efforts.

UNICCO eployee's aren't UM employees. But, UNICCO is a supplier and the UM administration has a duty to keep costs down just like any manager has a duty to avoid waste. If one of your suppliers faces the prospect of having to raise his prices for whatever reason, it seems to me the appropriate thing to do is help avoid that outcome by whatever legal means available. It should come as no surprise to anyone that UNICCO ain't the only company in Miami-Dade that can provide inexpensive janitorial labor. Perhaps someone should remind UNICCO and its employees.

Knock knock, my fellow students. A tuition hike is calling...anybody home?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Enter the Registrar?

As reported elsewhere, the Registrar knows how to use email. So instead of us checking MyUM (aka EASY) 10 times a day ourselves, why not send us an email each day listing courses with new grades? I'd much rather check my email once a day than MyUM twice or more.

I'm guessing notifications to students by course is far beyond the technical capabilities of a law school that still struggles with plumbing, let alone network printing.