As reported on Above the Law today, Harvard has recently undergone a complete overhaul of its grading system. But, they didn’t tell their students. No letters, no e-mails, no bulletin board fliers. Dean Martha Minnow had this to say about allegations of backroom reform:
Students were informed the same way that they were informed about everything. We’ve concluded that the only way to be sure that we can be clear about what are the governing rules of the school is to say they’re in the Handbook, and you’re responsible for knowing what’s in the Handbook.
You concluded that the only way for students to be informed was to assume they would read the handbook? Not just once, but read it every year to see if there are any changes from the last time. Are you kidding me? Fans of The Paper Chase TV series will recall that even Mr. Hart didn’t read the handbook.
Here’s what I have concluded is another, better option: inform the students of major changes to the handbook.
Capt. Ross: Corporal Barnes, I hold here the Marine Corps Outline for Recruit Training. You’re familiar with this book?
Cpl. Barnes: Yes, sir.
Capt. Ross: You’ve read it?
Cpl. Barnes: Yes, sir.
Capt. Ross: Good. Would you open it up to the chapter that deals with code reds, please?
Cpl. Barnes: Sir?
Capt. Ross: Just flip open to the page of the book that talks about code reds.
Cpl. Barnes: Well, sir code red is a term that we use, I mean, just down at Gitmo, I really don’t think that…
Capt. Ross: Ah, we’re in luck then. Standard Operating Procedures, Rifle Security Company, Guantanamo Bay Cuba. Now I assume we’ll find the term code red and its definition in that book. Am I right?
Cpl. Barnes: No sir.
Capt. Ross: Coporal Barnes, I’m a Marine. Is there no book. No pamphlet or manual, no regulation or set of written orders or instructions that lets me know that, as a Marine, one of my duties is to perform code reds?
Cpl. Barnes: No sir. No book, sir.
Capt. Ross: No further questions.
[as Ross walks back to his table Kaffee takes the book out of his hand]
Kaffee: Corporal would you open this book up to the part that says that where the mess hall is.
Cpl. Barnes: Well, Lt Kaffee, that’s not in the book either, sir.
Kaffee: You mean to say the entire time you’ve been at Gitmo you’ve never had a meal?
Cpl. Barnes: No, sir. Three squares a day, sir.
Kaffee: Well, I don’t understand. How did you know where the mess hall was if it wasn’t in this book?
Cpl. Barnes: I guess I just followed the crowd at chow time, sir.
Kaffee: Thanks. No more questions.
Because I’m feeling particularly froggy today, I am going to issue a bounty. If you are a Harvard law student and write “TL;DR” in large red letters across the cover of your handbook and leave it at the front door of Langdell Hall, I will send you $10 cash money. (Limit to the first 5 takers, in case this somehow catches on.)
You must take a close up picture of the book (so we can see TL;DR on it), and also take a picture further back so we can see that it’s actually at Langdell Hall. E-mail pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org, must be from your Harvard e-mail account, and if your pictures are satisfactory, I will reply and ask for your mailing address to send you your prize.
Also, I encourage all Harvard Law students to respond to any e-mail from the law school administration with a request that all further communication be made through the handbook.