In light of the recent decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases and in the events, protests and rallies that followed, Columbia Law School has decided to allow students who feel affected by the lack of indictments to postpone their final exams.
The decision was announced over the weekend by Columbia’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott, who supported the decision to delay these exams.
“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” he wrote in an school-wide e-mail. “For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”
The announcement comes after the Coalition of Concerned Students of Color at Columbia Law wrote to administrators that, “In being asked to prepare for and take our exams in this moment, we are being asked to perform incredible acts of disassociation that have led us to question our place in this school community and the legal community at large.”
It’s a delay that law students at Harvard and Georgetown have reportedly asked for as well, as cities around the country have held large-scale protests after grand juries in both cases decided not to indict police offers involved in the deaths of Brown and Garner. Medical reports and video evidence show Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by an officer on Staten Island (a move that is not allowed in the NYPD), and Brown was shot and killed by an officer in Ferguson.
Students at Columbia Law Schools say they want final exams delayed because they have been busy protesting the grand jury decisions in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed men who were recently killed by police officers in New York City and Ferguson, Missouri. Student groups at the prestigous law school say demonstrations and rallies over the two cases have prevented many students from properly preparing for finals.
Columbia seems to be facing some backlash as students around the country call the delays unfair to those who still have to take their exams. Elie Mystal wrote in Above The Law Redline that while he sympathizes with the protesters, granting delays sends the wrong message, and that injustice cannot be a reason to stop functioning. Instead, he urges others to channel their fustration into scholastic success.
With Columbia’s semester set to end next week, there is no telling how deadlines will be affected by the delays and the school has not released any information on how far exams have been pushed back.