The coronavirus has changed every facet of our lives, and being a law student is no different. For incoming students, the School’s typical in-person Orientation program is just not going to work (with about 250 new students on the way, think social distancing requirements and crowd size limits). So BC Law has announced that it will be running virtual programs all summer and launching new webinars, get-to-know virtual sessions for Career Services, Alumni and Academic and Student Services, and new programs like “The Nest,” where current students help match up and guide small cohorts of incoming students in meet-and-greet sessions online.
Last year’s “Zero-L” online introduction to law school program is back too and better than ever, and so is the “Lawyering Fundamentals” course (held online this year and led by Academic Success Program Director Nina Farber). LF helps incoming students practice key skills and get feedback on writing and legal analysis before they actually start their classes.
All this content, as well as checklists and FAQs, can be found on the new Incoming Student Experience Website.
On June 15, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII, the federal anti-discrimination statute, explicitly protects against discrimination on the basis of one’s sexual orientation. To reach its answer, the Court consolidated three cases that all touch on this issue, including Bostock v. Clayton County Board of Commissioners. The plaintiff in Bostock was a gay man who worked for the County as the Child Welfare Services Coordinator for over a decade. In January 2013, Bostock joined a gay recreational softball league, and in June 2013 he was fired from this position.
As a member of Boston College’s Law Review, I spent the Fall semester drafting a comment on the Bostock case, which was published by the journal’s online supplement. My comment ultimately argued that the Supreme Court should follow the guidance of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces Title VII, and definitively hold that sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by Title VII.
Although our reasonings were not identical, both the Supreme Court and I agreed that LGBTQ individuals cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. There are still many changes that must be made before sexual orientation discrimination is completely eliminated, but this decision is definitely a historic milestone worthy of celebration.
This Friday, May 22, BC Law 3Ls and LLM students were supposed to gather in Conte Forum and receive their degrees on stage in front of faculty, family and friends. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into those plans, of course, as it did for many other graduates across the world. But BC Law has stepped up to offer some virtual hugs and high fives.
The Law Student Association, with support from the BC Law administration, has put together a celebration that runs all week on the Class of 2020 Facebook group page. The celebration kicked off this morning with a video from the faculty:
LSA events this week include a Facebook Watch Party screening of Legally Blonde, a virtual Trivia Night, a favorite memory photo contest and messages and live video appearances from the LSA president, members of the faculty, staff and Dean Rougeau. Grads, faculty and staff can all join the group and participate.
While they may not be able to get together in person, they can still celebrate the graduates’ accomplishments with the people who helped them along the way. For those who are able to make it back, a physical ceremony is also being planned for sometime in October.
Courtney Ruggeri is a rising 3L at BC Law. She loves to hear from readers: email her at email@example.com.
As the Impact blog covered earlier in the semester, BC’s decision to go pass/fail led to a flurry of responses and emotions. Some were disappointed by the inability to boost their GPAs, while others were relieved to know that this meant they could dedicate more time to navigating the COVID crisis. But with exams just around the corner, I found myself reflecting on the meaning of exams and grades in law school.
Sure, at first after the pass/fail decision I thought to myself, “What exactly does passing mean and how much work do I really need to put in to get that passing grade?” Even with these looming thoughts, I still found myself regularly attending (Zoom) classes, keeping up with my readings, and getting a start on my outlines for finals. And I do not think I am alone here.
This guest blog from Italian student Maria Antonietta Sgro came to us from BC Law professor Katie Young. Professor Young had been scheduled to co-teach a course on law and technology in Italy this spring with professor Amedeo Santosuosso at the University of Pavia, but when his students went into lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the class was canceled. Professor Young invited the students to share their reflections on how their lives had been impacted by this disease, and Maria’s post below is one particularly moving answer.
It’s not a random number. Maybe for some it’s insignificant, and for others it doesn’t mean anything. But for me it represents a barrier. A wall of distance that separates me from what has been my home, full of love, life, laughter, the sea and–last but not least–my family for 19 years.
I’m writing from my desk, illuminated with a lamp, because here in Pavia (in the northern part of Italy) it’s already dark at 6:45 p.m. Even though I can’t see anything from my window, I used to be able to know the difference between the sunrise, when the morning flowed fast, and the sunset, when the silence became comfortably pleasant after a long day full of noise. But now there seems to be no difference between day and night. Silence is my master, and I am always seeing gray.
I no longer hear the little birds singing; in good weather, their singing was pleasant. I no longer hear the children leaving school, screaming with happiness. I no longer hear my neighbor. Sometimes it seems that I no longer feel myself.
It’s like everything is rumbling, a deep echo with no return.
As soon as I heard rumors about states issuing stay-at-home orders, I jumped in my car and headed home to the DC area. On March 30, Governor Northam of Virginia issued an order mandating that people only leave their homes for food, medical care, and exercise until June 10.
The thought of spending over two more months in quarantine made me realize that I need to create a list of things to do while stuck at home. So, I’m sharing my ideas with you, Impact readers:
If you’ve been following the Impact Blog over the past few days, by now you have learned that classes have moved completely online and that BC Law has switched to a pass/fail grading system. Professors and students used last week to adjust to our new “normal,” but here is what I have learned so far.
Today I am hosting a guest blog post from Governor Jane Swift, who is currently the Rappaport Center for Law & Public Policy Distinguished Visiting Professor.
The ironies abound. First, the course I am teaching at Boston College Law School is titled, “Governing in the Era of Facebook: Privacy, Propaganda & the Public Good.” The entire course is premised on the speed of innovation and how it is rapidly changing the nature of work and learning and challenging the legal and regulatory sectors. Second, I have been an executive in the Education Technology industry for nearly two decades. I have run online learning companies and sold and delivered online courses to schools and colleges. So, if anyone should have been ready to quickly pivot their face-to-face teaching as a Rappaport visiting professor from traditional delivery to online, that guest professor should have been me. If I could play a guitar or sing, however, I would have written and tried to get this video to trend.
One thing is really important to put in perspective from the get-go. What is happening this spring semester, where schools are continuing to deliver coursework to college and university students, is decidedly NOT online learning. True online courses, like the ones my colleagues and I built at Middlebury Interactive Languages, take months and sometimes years to build. They depend on professionals with specific expertise in course design to translate pedagogy from in-person to online. Even in online learning, there is huge variation in the degree of features and functionality, the use of video and audio, whether assessments are embedded in the course, and how those are proctored. None of that can happen at scale, securely in a three day or two week period. Instead, what you see now would more fairly be categorized as distance learning or – and even this is a stretch – as blended learning.
The coronavirus has impacted life around the globe, and it’s now hit Boston College where we live: the University has moved to online learning for all classes and students are required to leave campus (unless you file for an exemption due to travel restrictions, serious personal reasons, or university obligations). Here’s the official BC announcement.
We’re not alone in this: as most of our readers already know, universities are shutting their doors around the country for weeks, or in some cases (as with BC) for the rest of the semester. It’s the right thing to do to try to limit the spread of the virus and keep people safe, but we’re going to miss our daily BC Law routines, professors, and friends!
That said, the Impact blog isn’t shutting down. So keep checking back for more posts from us on all sorts of subjects, including our recent spring break service trip experiences. We’re all still here (at least on a virtual basis), and ready to bring more content your way. Stay safe everyone!
Growing up, I always said I wanted to be a lawyer. Both my dad and my stepmom were lawyers and I always loved to write. When it came time to take the LSAT and write a personal statement, however, I began to rethink this career choice and decided to wait to apply.
In April 2015, right before my college graduation, I received one of the worst phone calls of my life. I learned that someone close to me had been sexually assaulted. Although the details were fuzzy, she decided to take all the available steps she could. She went to the hospital where a rape kit was performed, she reported the rape, and decided to move forward with pressing charges.
When this case was unfolding before my eyes, I constantly had more questions than I did answers. I could not understand what additional evidence the prosecutor “needed” before pursuing the case, the standard of proof—guilty beyond a reasonable doubt—meant very little to me, and the perpetrator’s ability to walk away with a misdemeanor charge seemed unjust.
Simply put, this was the most difficult time in my life. My emotions were everywhere and I felt stuck in a position where I was unable to help. But finally, I discovered the true reason why I wanted to be a lawyer.