Equitable Grading in Times of Crisis?

Dear BC Law Community,

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), has created a widespread public health crisis, larger than what most of us have seen before in our lifetimes. This is not, however, the first-time members of our community have faced an unprecedented life circumstance. Your classmates deal with issues such as food insecurity, homelessness, chronic physical and mental illness, family tragedies, and much more, on a daily basis. When members of our community face these issues, absent a pandemic, we tell them to suck it up. We tell them the curve is what it is and they just need to find a way to solider through, or we contritely tell them “hey, B’s are still passing,” when we all know full well that in a tight  job market, the arbitrary difference between a B and a B+ can be the difference between employment and unemployment. An overly competitive curve is all well and good when it only effects the have-nots, but when it starts to affect the “haves” as well, then we start paying attention.

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Why the Pass/Fail Policy Matters

I’ll be honest. When I first read the email about the pass/fail policy this semester, I was upset. I have been working really hard this semester to boost my GPA, and I was looking forward to the chance to improve my performance during finals. I’ve been pretty anxious about this whole COVID-19 situation, and I felt like this was not the news I wanted to hear.

And then I took a deep breath and counted my blessings. After putting everything into perspective, I realized how much this pass/fail policy might mean to someone who is facing more difficulties than me right now. Throughout my time at law school, I have gotten involved in various diversity initiatives because I’m a woman of color and I know this puts me at a systemic disadvantage. I fight for these causes because they personally affect me. If I am so quick to stand up for causes that personally affect me, I should also be as committed to standing up even when my own interests might not be at stake.

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Student Service Trips: Spring Break Update

Each spring, over 60 BC Law students spend their spring break providing pro bono legal services to underrepresented communities and individuals locally and across the country. As a 1L, this was my first experience with a spring break service trip, and I have to say it’s pretty inspiring. BC Law really does have a committed culture of giving back and delivering justice around the world.

This year, 65 students are volunteering at pro bono placements serving:

  • communities in the District of Columbia, Navajo Nation and 10 states, including AL, TX, MD, NY, GA, LA, TN & OK
  • communities in 12 cities from Harlingen, TX to Baltimore, MD
  • 23 organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Navajo Nation, ProBAR, Disability Rights Louisiana, Oxfam America, Volunteer Lawyers Project and Legal Aid of East Tennessee

Here in Montgomery, Alabama, we are spending our spring break working at governmental and nonprofit organizations across the state, and we’re planning on writing more about our experiences when we return. For now, here are some photos from Montgomery of me and my fellow students!

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Hate Law School? Try BC Law

In a recent article by the National Jurist titled “Hate Law School? You’re Not Alone,” a law school graduate delved into tips to avoid the abhorrence many feel for their programs. Citing the grading system, the unequal level of opportunity, and law students themselves, the author argued that few people actually like law school. She offered up some tips to help students who are feeling discouraged, even recommending that if all else fails and if they really hate it that much, students should drop out and save their money.

Reading this article, I couldn’t help but think of another solution—come to BC Law instead.

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United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind: On Gaining Citizenship & Losing Identity

What is one promise you make when you become a United States citizen? To give up loyalty to other countries.

I remember this very question from my parents’ civics test as part of their naturalization process. We moved here from India in 1998 on an H1-B visa, eventually became permanent residents, and then finally became citizens in 2012. I didn’t have to take the citizenship test myself since I was a minor, but I remember helping my parents study. This one question in particular made me pause and realize how significant this step was for us, ceremonially: we were officially becoming Americans now.

It’s a real privilege to become a United States citizen, and I’m not sure how many American-born people realize what immigrants give up – both physically and symbolically – and how grateful they are to become citizens. That’s why it stings when throughout history, American-ness has been conflated with whiteness, and this sentiment lingers to this very day. I’m especially reminded of this bitter truth today because February 19 marks the anniversary of a particular SCOTUS case decision that hits close to home: United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923).

Thind, an Indian Sikh man, had come to the United States in 1913. Having obtained a bachelors degree from India, he wanted to further his education at the University of California Berkeley. He enlisted in the US Army, served in WWI, and was discharged honorably in 1918. After his discharge, he applied for citizenship in Oregon state, and was granted naturalization. Yet, soon after he became naturalized, an examiner appealed the decision. Thus began the fight for citizenship that eventually reached the Supreme Court. Thind’s citizenship was challenged because of the statutes of the time. The Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted naturalization to ‘any free white person’ of ‘good character’ and the Naturalization Act of 1870 extended citizenship to ‘aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent.’ In the Ozawa case the previous year, a Japanese-American man petitioned for naturalization on the grounds that he was white in skin color. In that case, the Supreme Court held that ‘white’ meant Caucasian, and hence denied him from gaining citizenship. The Ozawa case is a striking example of how whiteness was used as a defining factor of someone’s worthiness to be American.

Thind, relying on the Ozawa case rationale, used anthropological texts and studies to argue that he was from North India, the original home of the Aryan conquerors, and so that meant he was of Caucasian descent. Further, he argued that as a high-caste Indian himself, he had a repugnance towards marrying a “low-caste” Indian woman. One line from his actual argument reads: “the high-caste Hindu regards the aboriginal Indian Mongoloid in the same manner as the American regards the Negro” (note that the term ‘Hindu’ at the time was used not to describe religion, but as a racial and geographical marker). Despite his assertions, the court unanimously decided against Thind, upholding that Indian people are not white and cannot become citizens. This decision was not overruled until President Truman signed the Luce-Cellar Act of 1946.

It hurts that Thind was denied citizenship because of his ethnicity, but it pains me even more that he himself tried to disown his heritage. In both the Ozawa and Thind cases, these men didn’t challenge the discriminatory nature of the racial criteria, but instead contended that they were white, too. Maybe they didn’t think it was possible to win by challenging the racist motivations behind the laws of their day, or maybe they genuinely wanted to be white in order to fully belong. Either way, this mindset of being different than other minority groups, of somehow being “more white” lingers to this day.

The model minority stereotype today paints the narrative that Asian-Americans are the paragon of immigrant success stories. It perpetuates the idea that Asians achieve higher in education, rise to higher socioeconomic statuses, and overall attain more prosperity than other groups. This blanket statement undermines the diversity inherent within Asian-American experiences. Moreover, by creating a hierarchy and placing Asians at the top, this myth furthers racial wedges between minority groups, maintaining a sense of division among people of color. It advances the same problematic sentiment present in Thind’s argument, that we Asian immigrants are somehow better; under this logic, our status is more close to that of white people, and hence, we are more American.

The Thind case reminds me that the life of an immigrant is one of sacrifice: we leave behind our homes, our families, and everything we’ve ever known. But we give all this up with hope, because we love this country and have faith in the opportunities available for us here. We take an oath to ‘defend the Constitution and laws of the United States’, to ‘do important work for the nation if needed’. We are proud Americans, too. Please, do not pit us against other minority groups or make us give up the very essence of our identities to prove it.

Roma Gujarathi is a first-year student. She loves hearing from readers: email her at roma.gujarathi@bc.edu.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day With BC Law

Happy Valentine’s Day! Beyond the brightly colored candies and vivid decor hung in honor of the holiday, Valentine’s Day is all about showing your love for the people and things that mean the most to you. We decided to ask around about what students and faculty love most about BC Law. I’ve shared their responses below, and we’ll keep adding to this during the day. BC Law students, faculty and staff: share your own photos on social media with the hashtag #loveBCLaw!
Courtney Ruggeri with friends

I love BC Law because of the friends I’ve met and the memories we’ve made—both inside and outside the classroom. -Courtney Ruggeri ’21

Magazine editor Vicki Sanders

I love BC Law Magazine. Stories about our wonderful students, faculty, alumni and community—what’s not to love? -Vicki Sanders

LLM students

I love to see LLM students from all over the world, becoming friends thanks to BC Law! -Susan Simone Kang
Pictured: Fangzheng Li and Jiaying Chen, China, Cristina Ullrich, Germany, Milena Cuadra, Costa Rica, Ankita Rath, India and Nadia Bouquet, France.

My favorite thing about BC Law is studying on the fourth floor of the library. It is very sunny and gets me through the long hours of assigned reading. -Ross Budryk ’22

What I love most about BC Law is how pretty campus is in the winter. Coming from Miami, I still get excited when I see the snow! -Stephen Millan ’22

BC has a special place in my heart since I am a Double Eagle. Spending so many years here has given me a heightened appreciation for the Law School and the community. -Jessica Loiacono ’22

I love my Criminal Law class this semester. It is entertaining and suits my interests well. -Charles Enberg ’22

I love Legal Grounds coffee shop. Stopping by for a soda, coffee, or snack is the perfect midday pick-me-up. -Maxwell Black ’22

This is a little odd, but one of the things I love most about BC Law is the lockers in the basement. After class everyone heads to the lockers to switch out their books and we all chat about class and life. -Devon Sanders ’22

Weirdly enough, my favorite thing about BC Law is the East Wing. Last semester our section had all of our classes there, so now it just feels like home! – Rekha Korlipara ’22

I love the architecture of campus. BC Law is truly the Hogwarts of law schools! – Athanasia Kouskoulas ‘22

The friendships I have made is are what I love most about BC Law. —Becky Powell ’22

My favorite thing about BC Law is that professors are always friendly and welcoming – my favorite is seeing Professor Bloom roam around on the 4th floor of the library, stopping by our tables to say hi! -Selin Altintas ’22

Law Admissions Team after releasing 300 decisions #loveBCLaw #IamBCLaw #guesswholovesyoumore #watchout2023

I love that BC Law has given me the opportunity to live abroad and make even more new friends in my 3L year. The Dublin Semester in Practice has allowed me to immerse myself in a new culture while doing a deep dive into Irish immigration law. I could not think of a better way to finish the best three years! -Audrey McQuade (Pictured in the photo (in Dublin!) from left to right: Audrey McQuade, 2020 Nicole Chelkowski, 2021 Madeleine Gearan, 2020)

I love that the students enjoyed Harvest Desserts, aka Pie Day! – Theresa Kachmar

I’m sure I’m not alone in loving Dorothy Commons in our Career Services Office! -Heather Hayes

What I love about BC Law: one of my favorite people in the world, Pat Parlon! -Dean Rougeau

LLM: Our Journey to BC Law

Not everyone has the same journey to law school. In this week’s blog post, hear from LLM student Veronica Mulino about her family’s journey to Boston, and the various hurdles they faced after making the decision to come to the US for school.


My journey in Boston College began in Fall 2018. I was in Boston visiting for the holidays with my family. The last day of our trip, we decided to visit the BC Campus to gather some information on the LLM program for me and my husband.

We arrived at the Law School without any notice or a scheduled appointment, but we were welcomed with open arms by the Office of International Programs. We did a tour of the Law School and then discussed the program details and application. After a day of visiting, BC Law felt just like home. But I knew the process of applying to the program and actually attending was going to present difficulties for us, and at the time it seemed almost impossible. And yet, without knowing what the future was going to hold, my husband and I sent in our applications and were admitted. We were excited, but also worried: making the decision to move to another country together with a one-year old daughter seemed like a major challenge, with many obstacles to overcome.

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My BC Bucket List

“Wow, this is it,” I thought to myself as I stepped into the Law School for the first time since winter break. “My last semester as a student.”  It’s true: I’m nearing the end of peaceful early morning library sessions, cold call induced anxiety, nights out with ambitious peers, and possibly the end of my time in Boston.

I’m looking forward to a new chapter of personal growth as a “real” adult, but before I move on I want to make the most of my remaining moments at BC Law.  With this in mind, I put together a bucket list for my race to the finish line.

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What Was Your Name Again?

You’re a 1L sitting in class on the first day of the spring semester, reunited with your section members. Just one month ago, you had soul-bonded with the person next to you, spending 12 hours a day in study groups for weeks leading up to finals. You faced those exams together, you collectively convinced each other that it might not have gone as poorly as you thought, and then you wistfully bade each other farewell for whatever ski trip/Netflix binge awaited the other over Winter Break.

Contracts. Property. Civ Pro. Torts. Together, you and your dear friend stared into the outlining abyss and it stared back, and now you are making idle chit chat.

And you cannot remember their name for the life of you. 

And it’s starting to show: “Hey……..  you.

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Korematsu Day: Looking Back on a Supreme Court Decision

On December 7, 1941, Japanese forces attacked U.S. naval base Pearl Harbor, resulting in the United States’ declaration of war on Japan. President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously referred to the bombing of Pearl Harbor as “a date which will live in infamy.” 

In February 1942, ten weeks after the United States entered World War II, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066—the authorization of the armed forces to mass transport and relocate all people of Japanese ancestry into “internment camps” in the name of national security. The order affected the lives of over 100,000 people, the majority of whom were American citizens. It also opened the door to an ugly chapter of American history—one of fear, xenophobia, and unbridled racism. 

On the home front, Anti-Japanese war propaganda fueled America’s hatred and paranoia. Such propaganda portrayed the Japanese as monkeys, rats, and snakes—often depicted preying on white American women to further incite anger and fear. 

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