We Are Human Beings First And Law Students Second

Editor’s note: due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Boston College has moved all classes online and sent students home for the semester. The BC Law Impact blog has suspended its normal posting schedule, and bloggers are now focused on writing about the impact of the shutdown and the current state of the world on their academic and social experiences as law students. We are all in this together; let’s find our way through together.

I am a law student who, like everyone else at BC Law (and literally everywhere else on Earth), wishes this wasn’t happening.

I am a student attorney trying to figure out how to help my clients, since the courts have all but shut down.

I am a millennial who has grown up in endless war, and I probably have a lot of residual trauma from multiple mass shootings in my community.

I am a teacher whose first grade Hebrew students are going stir-crazy in their homes while I try to teach them on Zoom.

I am a daughter of parents whose small business has been shuttered in this crisis.

I am a sister worrying about my siblings who are suddenly out of work without a safety net to fall back on.

I am a partner of a full-time graduate student, who is also doing his learning and his part-time teaching jobs from our apartment.

But before all of those things, I am a human being living in a community that is being tested like never before, in ways large and small.

Our school just announced a mandatory pass/fail grading system during what some students are now calling “the semester that never was.” For some, that is good news. I personally welcome the announcement. I no longer feel the looming academic cloud threatening my mental, emotional, and physical health. And what about students who are also parents? Those who, like me and so many others, work multiple jobs to stay afloat? What about students with family members sick from this or other “normal” illnesses?

As noted by many brilliant and thoughtful student leaders at our school in this letter, there is a wide gap between the haves and the have-nots, and it is growing by the hour through this moment in history.

Some are angry that they’ve had their choices taken away from them, but as the student leaders note, that choice doesn’t exist for everyone equally, and it never has. Dean Rougeau’s announcement touched briefly on the cost-benefit analysis of this decision to the whole student body, and I believe he’s right. The benefits of this decision far outweigh the costs.

It is incumbent upon us, the lucky ones, of few inconveniences and troubles by comparison, to recognize that we are no longer individual law students fighting for the top grade, or nameless faces in line behind each other at Stuart Dining Hall. We are a community, and all of us are responsible for each other. And I urge everyone reading this to consider and respect the deep difficulties some of our classmates are experiencing.

I have heard many refer to this as “uncharted territory.” That’s true. But it’s also true that during this unprecedented time, we have the opportunity to choose to try to level the playing field for as many people as possible.

In between your latest Zoom classes, consider that a mandatory pass/fail grading system is the best way to do that.

Tatiana Rose Becker is a second-year student at BC Law. If anyone in the BC Law community needs to talk about anything (literally anything), please email her at beckerta@bc.edu.

Read the letter from student leaders Meaghan Annett, Savanna Arral, Nicole Chakraborty, Audrey Cleaver-Bartholomew, Zane Fernandez, Jamie Haddad, Victoria Moreno, Yani Ngo, and Chinyere Okogeri to the BC Law community.  While the signatories are leaders on campus and in their communities, they recognize that they do not speak for all members of their organizations nor all students.

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