Dear Students,

 

Thursday March 12 was the last day that felt kind of normal to me.  I went to work, my kids went to school, and my husband flew back that night from a business trip to Texas.  I knew things were changing that day, but I didn’t know how fast and I couldn’t see the contours of how exactly they would change.  Every day after that brought new challenges that required adjustments.  I know that you too are trying to find steady ground as we adapt to all of the changes rapidly brought upon our lives.  The absence of a clear end in sight adds to the unease.

 

One of our most disruptive changes, of course, has been to move our courses to remote learning.  While this comes with the life-saving benefit of social distancing, it has costs.  The learning environment is different.  The interactions with your professors and peers are different.  Study groups and other ways of supporting your learning are different.  The use of technology can be a blessing, but also a curse for those who don’t have tools such as reliable internet access.  And there are challenges outside the learning environment.  Some people now have children home full-time.  Some people are worried about their own health or the health of loved ones.  Some people have financial stresses from the economic impacts of COVID-19.  Some are just tired and have trouble focusing because of all the turmoil.  Some people are still doing okay and have hopes of positively impacting their GPAs this semester.

 

As you know, many law schools have changed their grading policies this semester in light of all of these factors.  NIU law students started a petition regarding a pass/fail change and your SBA also solicited feedback regarding possible changes to the grading system that also showed strong support for change to pass/fail.  Others made principled arguments against such a change.  Your professors have seen that input.  They have also seen what many other schools are doing and they have fully explored the pros and cons to different approaches.  There is, unfortunately, no solution that resolves all fairness concerns.  We recognize that.  After much consideration we have decided to adopt the following changes, which we think best balances all of the competing concerns for our community:

 

Even in the absence of traditional grades, we hope you can each fully commit yourself to your studies to the extent possible given your different life circumstances.  The information you are learning is still relevant to your ability to pass the bar and to provide your future clients with competent legal services.  Please let us know if there are ways that we can better support your learning during these times.

 

Best regards,

Dean Rigertas

 

 

Laurel Rigertas

Interim Dean and Professor of Law

Northern Illinois University College of Law

Swen Parson Hall, Room 270

DeKalb, IL 60115-2828

815-753-1380 | lrigertas@niu.edu

www.niu.edu/law