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purpletriangle

Why has Western chosen that in-person classes should be exclusive to 1L’s, and that 2L’s + 3L’s will be entirely online?

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That’s unfair to upper year students. Admin has chosen to sacrifice 2Ls and 3Ls so that 1Ls get to be almost fully in-person. 

 

1L’s were given a choice if they want their classes to be online, or in person – why can’t 2L’s and 3L’s? For 1L’s who choose in-person, all their classes are in person except constitutional. Upper years don't even get 1 class in person. We were told of a “mixed model” but that was thrown out completely.

 

Many of the upper year classes are capped at 25 people. These classes can happen in the larger lecture halls that hold 80+, and the 80 student classes kept online. This is especially confusing when all of Western undergrad has moved online, the campus is essentially entirely empty buildings.

 

Why is absolutely no effort being made to accommodate upper year students? The decision has even been made for winter term for upper years to be online – why is there no flexibility here at all? At no point has admin suggested that they will try to move for in-person classes in the winter semester if circumstances change. 

 

It is lazy for admin to do nothing for upper years. I cannot help but think that various economic and business reasons were factored into the decision to give upper years the short end of the stick. I say this because there has been a total lack of transparency in the decision-making process, we have not been given an explanation as to why admin has so quickly given up on our educational experience. 

 

The Dean reasons that social integration and building connections is important for 1Ls. But this is just as important in 2L and 3L. Plus, the social integration and academic support between 1Ls and upper years is so crucial to building connections at law school. I know my 1L experience would not have been as successful if I didn't have the help I got from upper years. 

 

Further, two-thirds of covid-19 cases come from the GTA. London is fairly safe and will be safer come September. While there is a chance of transmission by having students move back, admin may students to isolate for 14 days prior to start of classes.

 

I have no hope left in admin as they appear to be set in their decision. I truly hope students keep the pressure on admin, especially the SLS at Western Law, to try to get some sort of in person education for upper year students. For most of us, it is our last year(s) of schooling before we enter the workforce forever – let’s not let go of it so easily.

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 I can't speak to whether the reasons stated were the real reasons or not, but I do personally think that the largest transition is from 0L to 1L. Unlike upper year students, incoming 1Ls currently have no formed relationships with other students, no understanding of the law, no experience with legal research, etc. Many have never done a moot or been in a law library. None have had the kind of legal education that only in person classes can bring (I'm thinking lots of questions/discussion).  Many law schools are going fully online for all years. The way I see it they made a decision to try to keep some semblance of normalcy for the entering 1Ls, putting extra resources/effort into them, rather than taking from 2Ls and 3Ls. But I can absolutely appreciate the feeling that it is unfair. All students will likely pay the same tuition, and surely most students would prefer an in-person experience. I do hope that admin/the SLS hear you, and perhaps complaints from your fellow students, and are able to accomodate something that feels more fair to you. These are definitely shit times. 

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7 minutes ago, LawBlaw2019 said:

 I can't speak to whether the reasons stated were the real reasons or not, but I do personally think that the largest transition is from 0L to 1L. Unlike upper year students, incoming 1Ls currently have no formed relationships with other students, no understanding of the law, no experience with legal research, etc. Many have never done a moot or been in a law library. None have had the kind of legal education that only in person classes can bring (I'm thinking lots of questions/discussion).  Many law schools are going fully online for all years. The way I see it they made a decision to try to keep some semblance of normalcy for the entering 1Ls, putting extra resources/effort into them, rather than taking from 2Ls and 3Ls. But I can absolutely appreciate the feeling that it is unfair. All students will likely pay the same tuition, and surely most students would prefer an in-person experience. I do hope that admin/the SLS hear you, and perhaps complaints from your fellow students, and are able to accomodate something that feels more fair to you. These are definitely shit times. 

I agree with you - 1L's need in person the most.

I just think that since the plan is already there for some in person classes, why cant it be extended for a small selection of upper year classes, especially given that we were told of a mixed model and that Western thrives with in person interaction? Upper years shouldn't be told to do everything online because 1L's need more socialization and deserve the building more, to me at least, that is not enough. 

 

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35 minutes ago, purpletriangle said:

Many of the upper year classes are capped at 25 people. These classes can happen in the larger lecture halls that hold 80+, and the 80 student classes kept online. This is especially confusing when all of Western undergrad has moved online, the campus is essentially entirely empty buildings.

This isn't true. Western undergrad is aiming to provide 25-30% of classes in person. To make this happen, I imagine that every building on campus that can be used, will be used. The Faculty of Law has discussed the possibility that any classrooms too small to accommodate classes will be converted to study rooms, so that space is utilized as much as possible. 

Further, to your point that upper year classes could be held in our larger lecture halls, we only have maybe 3 classrooms that could accommodate a 25 person class with social distancing. Those will be full just from running the small group program - the school has said that all other in-person 1L classes will have to be held at the Faculty of Education. 

I get that you're frustrated. I'm sad that we won't be back in school too. But this clearly isn't admin being lazy. Delivering both in person and online options this year, while creating contingency plans for a second wave, has got to be a logistical nightmare. Many schools have given up entirely and gone 100% online. I'm happy they're giving 1Ls an opportunity to make the most of their 1st year, even if it means the rest of us get the short end of the stick. 

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, aflorrick said:

This isn't true. Western undergrad is aiming to provide 25-30% of classes in person. To make this happen, I imagine that every building on campus that can be used, will be used. The Faculty of Law has discussed the possibility that any classrooms too small to accommodate classes will be converted to study rooms, so that space is utilized as much as possible. 

Further, to your point that upper year classes could be held in our larger lecture halls, we only have maybe 3 classrooms that could accommodate a 25 person class with social distancing. Those will be full just from running the small group program - the school has said that all other in-person 1L classes will have to be held at the Faculty of Education. 

I get that you're frustrated. I'm sad that we won't be back in school too. But this clearly isn't admin being lazy. Delivering both in person and online options this year, while creating contingency plans for a second wave, has got to be a logistical nightmare. Many schools have given up entirely and gone 100% online. I'm happy they're giving 1Ls an opportunity to make the most of their 1st year, even if it means the rest of us get the short end of the stick. 

I was not aware about the undergrads. Thanks for letting me know. 

We have 4 classrooms, 51, 52, 36, and 38 I believe that can do 25 person classes with social distancing. With classes going from 8:30 am - 8pm everyday, 5 days a week, there is plenty of time for more classes than just small groups (even with a small break in between classes to disinfect). 

My main point is, I do not think 1Ls should have a monopoly over in person classes. 5/6 of their classes will be in person. Upper years can't even get one? Why can't one class, say criminal for example, go online? And with the physical room that is opened up by moving just 1 more 1L class online, that can allow for a few upper year classes in person (either in the faculty of education, or in the law building). That one switch can have upper years around which has its benefits that outweigh the consequences of giving 1L's 4/6 classes in person instead of 5/6.  

The support network of having upper years around to not only mentor students socially and academically, but to simply just run extra curriculars, cannot be replicated remotely. If 1L's will be in person, upper years to some extent need to be there as well. They go hand in hand! Upper years want to help 1L's, many of us are eager too, and our absence is actually detrimental to 1L social and academic success in my opinion.  Upper years can be physically present at the law building if fewer 1L classes are in person, and that physical space is given to us.

I know I am throwing out hypotheticals that may have logistical difficulties, but admin has not explained anything, and they should. 

 

Edited by purpletriangle

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1 hour ago, purpletriangle said:

Why is absolutely no effort being made to accommodate upper year students? The decision has even been made for winter term for upper years to be online – why is there no flexibility here at all? At no point has admin suggested that they will try to move for in-person classes in the winter semester if circumstances change. 

1Ls take a standardized set of courses, so I'd imagine that it'd be much easier to coordinate an in-person curriculum for them than it would be for upper years. Western presumably needs to provide its students with some degree of certainty before the academic year so that people can make plans based on that information - they can't adopt a wait-and-see approach and suddenly switch the mode of instruction mid-year. If the school were to provide an in-person option for some upper year courses but not others, there'd inevitably be complaints about that inconsistency, too. 

I understand that you're frustrated, but schools are accommodating students by offering them the ability to continue their education in unprecedented circumstances. 

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1 hour ago, Tagger said:

If the school were to provide an in-person option for some upper year courses but not others, there'd inevitably be complaints about that inconsistency, too. 

Agreed. I also think there needed to be a sort of all (or most) or nothing approach. I imagine many would be displeased if they had to be in London for 8 months for only a couple of hours in person a week. But again there really is no perfect solution. No matter what some will be unhappy with the decision. 

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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, LawBlaw2019 said:

Agreed. I also think there needed to be a sort of all (or most) or nothing approach. I imagine many would be displeased if they had to be in London for 8 months for only a couple of hours in person a week. But again there really is no perfect solution. No matter what some will be unhappy with the decision. 

Those students would know in advance, that if they select that class, it would be in person, and the only class they would have in person. It would be clear in the course description.

That gives some options to the students who want in-person education, even if it just means one class. 

Edited by purpletriangle

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14 minutes ago, purpletriangle said:

Those students would know in advance, that if they select that class, it would be in person, and the only class they would have in person. It would be clear in the course description.

But then it leads to people who are interested in the class but not in London (or at high risk) not being able to take it.

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1 minute ago, georgecostanzajr said:

But then it leads to people who are interested in the class but not in London (or at high risk) not being able to take it.

They could still take it, but remain online/remote while most students attend physically. Or, 2 sections of the class could open... 1 online 1 in person. 

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To be honest, it's not the in person classes that actually matter, but the social aspect of Law School. Given that we'll probably be under these social distancing restrictions for the foreseeable future, I'm not sure what a couple in person classes will do for me if we can't have Dennings, law ball, Obiter, 3yp or even just hanging out in groups. Also, I can say without a shred of doubt, that 1L was the most important year of law school in terms of needing in person classes and bonding with your small group. I had an absolute blast 1st year and I think every law student should get that support and as close of an experience we had (but clearly inferior to previous 1L years). So I totally get the frustration as an upper year not getting to live up 3LOL to the max as I looked forward to so much.

But, on the balance, I think the 1Ls need it more and if there's no other way, I can live with it.

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Wouldn't be this be better directed to the Western admin as opposed to an anonymous internet forum?

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^ Yes. 

And, yet again, people, only one account is allowed here. I'm not sure how many times we have to say that before it sinks in.

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