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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

When Students Strike Back -- Some Reactions

As Michael noted over at Discourse.net, and in light of the response by the UM law school faculty to the UNICCO strike (my own thoughts on which I previously posted about here), we held a town meeting today at the law school to provide a forum for students and faculty alike to air their concerns and questions about the strike, the law school's response, and the ramifications of both for the law school community. (The town hall followed a very interesting panel put together by UM law students about the substantive issues behind the strike, which included representatives from UNICCO, the SEIU, and the UM faculty, but, pointedly, _not_ the UM administration.)

Although I was not surprised at the town hall by the substance of the comments made by some of the students, several of whom spoke out against holding classes off campus, I must confess to being taken aback at the vitriol and unabashed animosity that pervaded their remarks. One of the first students to speak, reading a statement represented to be on behalf of a "large group of students," suggested that we, the faculty, were using the cover of the strike to force our own political agendas on our students; that we have shown callousness and unprofessionalism in our response; that we have a contractual obligation to show up when our classes are scheduled and at their scheduled location, and to teach them what they've signed up to take, regardless of any supervening factors; that we have no right to "take sides" in this debate (and are doing so), let alone foist our opinions upon them; and, perhaps most surprisingly (at least to me), that those members of the faculty who have moved class off campus (e.g., me and a small but significant group of my colleagues) should be sanctioned, either by docking their pay, taking away their sabbaticals, or terminating them, for fundamentally disregarding and otherwise neglecting their professional obligation to their students.

There was more, too, and I'm not doing justice to the breadth of the statement (although I believe I'm accurately portraying its tone), but what I've described above is what stuck with me.

Granted, a lot of this was previewed in the extensive comments to my last strike-related post. But I can't do justice to the tone -- to the extent to which the student was suggesting that we've betrayed him and his colleagues, and our responsibilities to them, by even thinking about having class off campus, let alone actually doing so.

There is a lot to be said in response. Much of it was said (some by me; some by my colleagues; some by other students) at the town hall. There are only a few points (okay, five) that I want to make here, if for no other reason than I've always thought writing is a good way to struggle with important issues, and to make sure I'm not way out on the edge with my own thoughts:

First: I have absolutely no problem with students who express their opinion that they disagree with a professor's decision to hold class off campus. It is not only their right; it is their obligation to speak up, and to provide an accurate representation to the professor of what they think and reasonably believe. I asked my own students, when this whole mess started, to share their thoughts with me, and was heartened both by the number who responded, and the responses of those who disagreed with me, but were willing to support my decision.

Second: I don't think that any professor who decides to hold class off campus makes that decision lightly, or with even the slightest disregard to their obligations vis-a-vis the students. As I noted at the town hall, it's entirely _because_ of how seriously we take our obligations that we even _hold_ class off campus. As has been noted here and elsewhere, the best way to show support using the classroom -- and to disrupt the daily goings-on of the University, with potentially pecuniary consequences for the University -- is to not have class at all. Yes, it is virtually impossible to hold class off campus without somehow inconveniencing the students. I accept that. I respect that students, all things being equal, would prefer not to be inconvenienced. We all would. But as inconvenient as it is to have class a mile or two from school, I can't even begin to imagine how inconvenient it is for the workers on the picket line, who are foregoing an already paltry paycheck because of what they believe in (and what many, like me, believe they are entitled to). I only wish I had that kind of courage.

Which leads me to third: Yes, having class off campus is, one way or the other, showing some modicum of support for the strike. I don't disagree with that, either. But it is simply not forcing our political agenda on the students. If, at that off-campus class, we spent the entire time extolling the virtues of organized labor, bemoaning the failures of UNICCO, and otherwise berating the response of the University administration, then, I think, we would be introducing our political views into the classroom. I object, however, to the notion that merely moving the class is, itself, requiring our students to adhere, especially because the faculty have effectively agreed that no student will be punished for missing an off-campus class, and have undertaken Herculean efforts to audio- or video-record every off-campus class and make the recordings widely accessible to all students. Indeed, if anything, this whole mess has prompted more dissent on the UM campus than I've seen since I got here. I just cannot accept that that's a bad thing. I'll come back to this shortly.

Fourth: We all care incredibly deeply about our students. We would not be in this profession if we didn't. And, for the most part, I think we all deeply respect our students, and the importance of our obligations to them. But our obligation is _as_ teachers. Students are here to learn from us. To learn civil procedure and contracts and property and torts, to be sure, but also to learn about advocacy and the American legal system. I do not think, and cannot accept, that we are betraying our educational mission simply by having class off campus. If anything, we are using our proverbial microphone to teach more than just the black-letter law that students can get out of the casebook. We are contextualizing it. And at a University that refuses to require its contractors to pay a living wage to its employees, we are teaching our students about dissent, a lesson they are using, quite effectively, against us.

Fifth, finally, and, I think, most importantly: We, like our students, are members of a community.  That community does not consist merely of students and faculty.  If it did, we would be teaching in the dark, in piles of filth, and handing out mimeograph copies of our incoherent, handwritten notes. What I think I object to in the vitriolic nature of the students' remarks is the implicit assumption that these workers are not part of our community.  My responsibility to students is only part of my larger responsibility to the University of Miami, as an academic community and as an institution.  As such, I also am responsible to and for the workers who allow me to teach, and who facilitate the means by which I do so.  What these students would have us do is treat our responsibility to them as completely overriding and indeed subverting our responsibility to the community as a whole.  This I cannot do. True, I was not hired to bring social justice to the University of Miami, nor is that my goal.  Nevertheless, my responsibility to the community includes acting in a way that I believe will make our community as a whole a better one, especially in a law school where we are purportedly teaching our students how to advocate on behalf of those unable to advocate for themselves.

Let me briefly reiterate: I don't mind the fact of the dissent, or even the substance thereof. What I object to is the insinuation that (1) I don't care about my students; (2) I am depriving them of their education by holding class off campus; and (3) my only obligation as a member of the faculty of the University of Miami is to my students. To put it as simply as I can: It's not that we don't care about our students; it's that we don't just care about our students.

And so, I'm stuck, in the end, with Martin Luther's aphorism, quoted today by one of my colleagues: "Here I stand. I can do no other."

Posted by Steve Vladeck on March 8, 2006 at 03:01 AM in Steve Vladeck | Permalink

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» When Labor Strikes Come to Law School from Workplace Prof Blog
Steve Vladeck over at PrawfsBlawg and Michael Froomkin at Discourse.net are both in the midst of dealing with a labor strike at the University of Miami School of Law. Both have decided to move classes off campus out of respect [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 8, 2006 11:21:27 AM

Comments

We, like our students, are members of a community. That community does not consist merely of students and faculty. If it did, we would be teaching in the dark, in piles of filth, and handing out mimeograph copies of our incoherent, handwritten notes.

;)

BTW, I think this validates my observation that professors are human beings and not social constructs.


Professor Vladeck, I agree with you that either decision would impose a burden on some students, but the solution seems fairly clear: Let your students vote on the issue (off campus or on). Why wouldn't that accomodate most of the issues you mention?

Posted by: anon2 | Mar 9, 2006 10:29:32 PM

Anon2 -- My students overwhelmingly supported my decision, if not the basis thereof.

Interesting approach.

If you read above, you will find that my "respectable house in a decent neighborhood" comment referred specifically to South Florida, where many (most?) UM grads will presumably be seeking employment.

The statement seemed more general, but it encourages me to stay in Texas.

BTW, from what I know the law school at issue is a solid school well in the top half. I think those slurs (by others) are unfounded.

I've responded to some comments at:

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2006/03/strikes_and_the.html

as well.

It has been interesting.

Posted by: Stephen M (Ethesis) | Mar 28, 2006 11:15:59 PM

But I agree with you about TX being a great deal. Dallas (and the "Metroplex" in general...I love that they call it that) is the best city there, it seems...big legal market (lots of corporate HQs, etc), low COL...not as festering as Houston....

Posted by: Louser | Mar 20, 2006 12:07:11 PM

If you read above, you will find that my "respectable house in a decent neighborhood" comment referred specifically to South Florida, where many (most?) UM grads will presumably be seeking employment.

Posted by: Louser | Mar 20, 2006 12:00:55 PM

Even in dirt cheap markets like Texas, a somewhat respectable house in a decent neighborhood can be well over $500k.

Hmm. In Texas, Plano, Texas (where my daughter's high school has three PhDs in physics teaching the physics classes) you can get a house with 2400 square feet, brick exterior, new roof, landscaping, three bathrooms, 3cm granite, double convection ovens, wood/tile flooring, and such for under $200k.

I think that is a somewhat respectable house in a decent neighborhood. There are scores of them here (heck, I live in one).

Interesting how this discussion has exploded. I've learned things, though I fear that some of the numbers are off a bit.

Posted by: Stephen M (Ethesis) | Mar 20, 2006 12:04:36 AM

Louser -- I respect your response, and don't feel like I was saying negative things about _you_, personally. What I took issue with, and perhaps too stridently, was what I read as your insinuation (and, to be fair, the fairly explicit statements of some of the other posters) that UM students are, effectively, wasting their money, and that, as your comment that prompted my response suggested, the professors are out of touch with the on-the-ground reality of the job market. I take issue, obviously, with both statements, but perhaps I overread what you were saying. Certainly, that sentiment comes through some of the others' posts...

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | Mar 18, 2006 5:52:38 PM

If you actually look at what I have written above, you will notice that I have made only two points above. 1) Only around 10% of Miami's grads, on average, have a reasonable shot at a "market" firm 2) It is difficult to have a middle class single family homeowning lifestyle in south florida(that is, the kind of lifestyle my parents and my friends parents were able to create for their families as firefighters, police officers, etc when I was growing up in South Florida...) on much less than 100,000/yr these days.

I didn't say anything beyond this -- I was focusing on two (fairly) quantifiable indicators of the prospects of UM grads. At no point did I say that "a mid-$100,000s job is the sine qua non of "success" in the legal world" -- I understand that you have done something pretty impressive (which I in no way would have a shot at) by becoming a professor at a respectable law school. I also can't see where in any of my posts I "criticize[d], mock[ed], [or] ridicule[d] others from behind the cloak of anonymity. I simply pointed out that if a person's goal is a high paying job and decent lifstyle (which is, you must acknowledge, the goal of many law students, unfortnately), a UM legal education is not a particuarly safe bet.

As for the quality of UM's students, I agree with you. I know several people who attend or have attended UM law. To a person, they are no less impressive than the typical person I encounter at my top 20 school. However, while the vast majority of the people I know at my school have "market" (actually Vault 100) offers, the same cannot be said about my UM friends. This returns us to my central point here: I have been focusing on the "game" of getting a "market" job and have argued that this game made more difficult by attemding a school like UM law. I have said nothing more and I have certainly not cast any aspersions on UM students in general. Thus, I ask, why have you felt the need to say such negative things about me?

Posted by: Louser | Mar 18, 2006 4:16:27 PM

"Louser":

Comments like this one are precisely why I haven't acknowledged your "discussion" about job prospects. And I don't think I've ever suggested anything other than that the primary function of law school is to make people into lawyers. I certainly see it as one of my foremost responsibilities, and spend a substantial amount of time every week talking to employers and serving as a reference/recommender for my students.

As to the "merits" of your "discussion," I don't think anyone would suggest that a student who graduates in the middle of their class at Miami would have precisely similar job prospects to a student who graduates in the middle of their class at Harvard or Yale (if Yale had class rank, anyway). But to say that is most definitely not to say that students at Miami, even those who finish in the middle of the class, won't be able to find a good, satisfying job when they graduate. And if you think that a mid-$100,000s job is the sine qua non of "success" in the legal world, well, I guess I'm a real failure. C'est la vie.

It's very easy to criticize, mock, and ridicule others from behind the cloak of anonymity that, like you, virtually all of those who have engaged in this job "conversation" have hidden behind. But it also makes it harder to believe that you have any idea what you're talking about. I like to think that I'm in a pretty good position to compare today's UM students to students at the best law schools in the country, and I wouldn't be here if I really thought that they're that much worse off.

But, maybe that's just more of my "typical aloof ivory tower bullshit." Because clearly, you know me, and know that that's who (and how) I am.

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | Mar 18, 2006 3:21:41 PM

I love how this professor is unwilling to in any way acknowledge our discussion about job prospects. I suppose this is just typical aloof ivory tower bullshit that fails to acknowledge that the primary function of law school is to make people into lawyers.

Posted by: Louser | Mar 18, 2006 2:32:41 PM

No Hugs and Kisses -- As I noted in an earlier comment, I wasn't aware that there were disabled students who had been inconvenienced by the strike, and, as I said, I don't mean to suggest that that's acceptable to me. It isn't. What I objected to was that other students, who don't have any disabilities, were appropriating the extent to which your disability made holding class off-campus that much harder for you to justify their opposition based almost entirely on their own logistical inconvenience. Indeed, if any of _my_ students had approached me and told me that they had a disability that made having class off-campus really difficult, I would've accomodated them in a second... None of my students have said anything to me. Have you spoken to your professors?

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | Mar 18, 2006 10:10:49 AM

Professor Vladek,

To respond to your question, "Do you learn MORE in 209, or 309, than you do in other places?" Why yes I do. You see, I am a disabled student and I REFUSE to EVER skip class. Thus, while I wholeheartedly support the workers and the strike, having class in a dark church hall is excruciating for me. Sitting in those metal folding chairs for 1 1/2 hours is extremely painful. Professor Vladek, you could benefit from communicating with some of the disabled students on campus. Perhaps then you would see how this strike has inconvenienced them.

Posted by: no hugs and kisses for you | Mar 18, 2006 1:38:57 AM

Hey Hugs,

Not everyone wants to be a corporate whore for the rest of their lives. Some people would rather live a nice quiet life in Florida than work 80 hours a week at some giant firm. Besides the fact that students receive a great legal education here, Miami is a much better location than any of the schools in the northeast. In addition, I'm sure there are many people at Miami that are much more intelligent than you. I know firsthand of one student at Miami who scored above 170 on the LSAT. What was your score? Not that the LSAT is an accurate measure of intelligence. I am sorry you are so insecure about your abilities that you need constant reassurance from Vault or US News.

Posted by: anon | Mar 16, 2006 1:48:05 PM

I don't mean to engage in scurrilous attacks or to get overly annoyed, but I think the entire way you process this situation, Hugs, is too narrow-minded. I did not go to law school with some wild-eyed notions or fuzzy idealism. I went to law school to get a legal education, and I think UM gives a fine one. I did not want to work for some giant, ultra-prestigious white shoe law firm, and I knew that before going to law school. My trouble with your pov, and I'm trying to be entirely civil here, is that you believe I am somehow less for the route I've chosen. I entered this situation with eyes wide open, and I chose UM. I predicated my decision on the fact that I did not want to go the corporate cartel route of working for Hogan & Hartson or Bingham & McCutcheon, or any of the other lofty firms that do that kind of work. Having decided that I did not want to scale those heights, I chose to stay away from the law schools that put many people on such a path. You may consider that decision foolish, and you chose a different path. That's fine. What I cannot abide, however, is your unremitting condescension toward folks who chose differently from you. Your attitude suggests that if one doesn't go to Duke Law School or higher, and then go to work for a white shoe at 150K, then that person's life amounts to little. I don't want to go too far in the Capraesque direction, and anonymous blogs are probably not the place to express such opinions, but your view of the world is just too rigid and commodified for me...

Posted by: Lou | Mar 16, 2006 12:40:31 PM

uh, I live in Texas (Dallas), and nobody I know paid anywhere near $500K for their house. You can live a great life in a big house making well under $100K.

Posted by: christopher bocardo | Mar 16, 2006 10:29:41 AM

Lou, I am not the bad guy here. I'm not the one responsible for the embarrassing career placement situation at lower tier law schools. The supply of silly idealists wanting to be lawyers just happens to far exceed demand, so respectable law firms really have no need to rifle through bad schools looking for the few semi-competent students there. You should really be angry at the individuals who published the puffed up career statistics you relied on when choosing to go the law school route. These reckless ad hominem attacks only weaken your argument and make you look foolish, so I hope you’re willing to keep our discourse civil from this point forward.

I actually want to help out here. I think your professor should spend more time worrying about your education, and less time pandering to union thugs. You may think this is a game, but UM doesn’t exactly have much prestige to spare and it’s very irresponsible for your professor to embarrass the school by frittering its respectability away on some reckless left-wing political gambit.

Lastly, I don’t see any reason to comply with the dick-waving contest you suggest. I’m here to help, and engaging in childish banter with you isn’t going to magically cause more Vault 100 firms to take students from your school. Since you asked (and quite rudely I might add), I will only say that I attend/ed a law school traditionally ranked well inside the USNews top 10. It is/was not a HYS caliber school, but I didn’t care about academia or SCOTUS clerkships so I took the full ride from a slightly lower ranked school.

Posted by: Hugs and Kisses, Hope This Helps | Mar 16, 2006 12:59:28 AM

I love that our posts are consistently 90% driven by data backing up our opinions about UM and "Lou" (Louis Mandarini?) respondsby calling us arrogant and talking about "dick waving contest[s]". Please, Lou, do us a favor and actually respond to the points we make rather than calling us names.

Posted by: Louser | Mar 15, 2006 4:47:32 PM

I just can't stay away, Hugs. Your arrogance is radiant. It attracts me, and I must return. So, what you're saying is that one student on one video making one insipid speech means that the rest of us are worthless? Or did you already think we were worthless and this simply confirms it? Or is it both?

Out of curiosity, where do you/did you go to law school? Since assumptions and lack of actual information rule the roost here, I'll assume that someone as self satisfied as you and who commodifies education as much as you do must have gone to one of the Ivies. Which one was it? After you tell me which school you went to, maybe we could have a dick waving contest....

Posted by: Lou | Mar 15, 2006 3:49:52 PM

March 2006 SECTION: BARTALK Vol. 28

SLAVES OF NEW YORK;
Law firm temps are furiously blogging about their work conditions

AT 4 P.M. DOWN IN the basement of a large New York firm, a temporary attorney plots his escape. After days of staring into a flickering computer screen for 12 hours, he can't bear to code another document. The temp's destination is modest: a Starbucks across the street. But aside from lunch and bathroom breaks, he can't leave the floor. If he does, he'll lose his job.

At another firm, the temps were first assigned to a conference room with a window, but then transferred to a room they call "the pit."

These are the kinds of stories temps tell each other from the comfort of their anonymous blogs. And to hear them tell it, working conditions are awful now that law firms are hiring more temps to do the drudge work formerly reserved for associates.

There is Temporary Attorney, whose anonymous protagonist, "Tom the Temp," says he was downsized from a big firm; DC Temp, written by a self-described "attorney in waiting"; and Cribspace, whose author claims to be a 28-year-old licensed attorney recently employed at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. The relevant URLs are dctemp.blogspot.com, temporaryattorney.blogspot.com, and cribspace.blogspot.com.

One reason for the surge in temp work is that firms now perform more discovery than ever. Another is that many grads of second- and third-tier law schools are unable to land associate jobs at big firms. Rather than take a low salary at a small firm, they sign on for steady temp work with the big firms. (New York Law School, for example, says that its 2004 grads at small firms earn between $35,000 and $51,000.)

By contrast, temp agencies pay $19 to $25 an hour to unlicensed J.D.s. Licensed J.D.s can earn up to $35 per hour, and specialized lawyers can top $100 an hour, say two staffing agency recruiters. Most temps are paid time and a half when they work more than 40 hours.
But oh, the pain of it all. At most firms, temps do online document review, a process that involves reading e-mail and documents and tagging them with a code that states their relevance to the case at hand. It's grueling work, made more so by their invisibility.

"Tom the Temp" has sparked a lively debate by declaring the system inefficient and urging temps to unionize. But one of his anonymous posters calls the system efficient, saying, "The bottom line is that utilization of [temps] increases the revenue stream, and profits, for the partners at the firms where [they] are utilized." Otherwise, the source says, firms wouldn't use them.

That opinion was seconded by a partner at a top New York firm who spoke on condition of anonymity. This source says he uses temp lawyers because he can bill the work to clients at associate rates, or $180?$200 an hour. His firm pays the agencies $50?$65 per hour and pockets the rest. (Recruiters confirm those agency rates, but say that rates and law firm markups are dropping.)

One firm in particular has come under fire for its work conditions: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which Tom recently named "Sweatshop of the Year."

Tom's complaints were corroborated by a Paul, Weiss temp who provided proof of his employment and spoke on condition of anonymity. This source says he was one of 40 temps working 12-hour stints six days a week at the firm's New York office. He says they were corralled in a windowless basement room littered with dead cockroaches, and that six of seven exits were blocked.

Paul, Weiss managing partner Alfred Youngwood concedes that some "J.D. paras" work on the "concourse level" and that in one room a few exits are blocked. But, he says, the firm complies with safety codes. He declines to say how much the firm bills clients for the work. These "are not the people who are getting billed out at $200 an hour," he says. "They're not doing legal work."

The Paul, Weiss temp disagrees. Along with coding for responsiveness, he says, he is expected to review for privilege. "It's true we spend probably 80 percent of the day bullshitting and wandering around," this temp confides. "But when you're paying an attorney $20 an hour, what do you expect?"

Posted by: Hugs and Kisses, Hope This Helps | Mar 15, 2006 2:30:08 PM

Lou, I don't need to make assumptions, I've seen videos. The ones posted on the UM website have become a huge hit among students at the upper echelon law schools. They've generally reminded me of high school kids struggling through their public speaking classes.

"The bus of learning would roll, leaving me in the dust!"

I really can't make this up!

Posted by: Hugs and Kisses, Hope This Helps | Mar 15, 2006 2:02:47 PM

You have got to be the most obnoxious, narrow-minded, self-satisfied, arrogant prick I've come across in months. The number of generalized, unsupported assumptions you make about where someone attends school is breathtaking. I'm through talking to you as doing so is about as productive as yelling into a well.

Posted by: Lou | Mar 15, 2006 11:20:24 AM

Lou: You can decide for yourself if you amount to anything or not when you're doing slip'n'falls and DWIs. However, I have no need to wait as it is easy to see that you have been pwn3d for life with your "prestigious" TTTulane/UM combo.

Christopher: Haven't paid much attention to real estate prices lately? Even in dirt cheap markets like Texas, a somewhat respectable house in a decent neighborhood can be well over $500k. In an expensive market like LA or NY, anything under a million qualifies as ghetto-fabulous. Just think, a house like this in LA is far more than what you can afford (it's listed at a cool half-million):

http://homepics.realtor.com/image2/http/westernla/listings/large/012/06-013381.jpg

Tack on student loan payments for UM's astronomical tuition and yes, it will be very difficult to live a modest middle class lifestyle on a salary under $100k. The many students who can't find market jobs and end up working for $40-$70k are going to be living like the poors.

If you chart the NPV profile of forgoing 7 years of earnings, paying 7 years of tuition, and using the true average pay of a UM Law graduate, you'll see that even used car salesmen and plumbers are going to be wealthier than you. Even if you use the borderline fraudulent statistics shady law schools publish, it's still a poor financial decision to attend such a badly ranked law school.

Let me guess, you went to law school because you "like to argue" and "lawyers make a lot of money"?

Posted by: Hugs and Kisses, Hope This Helps | Mar 15, 2006 2:22:56 AM

100K is not enough income to buy a house in an even moderately respectable SoFla neighborhood anymore.

Posted by: Louser | Mar 13, 2006 3:55:03 PM

I think it's hilarious that "Hugs and Kisses" thinks that anything under $100K is "under living wage".

Posted by: christopher bocardo | Mar 13, 2006 1:11:23 PM

Thanks for the heads up. I know the standard now by which I should judge whether my life amounts to anything. Take good care.

Posted by: Lou | Mar 13, 2006 12:55:00 AM

It is apparent that you don't know what "market job" means. Hint: working for a local 3 man defense firm or as an assistant state attorney in Polk County is not "market". "Market" jobs, by the least restrictive definition, are jobs with decent sized firms that pay around the going base pay rate for top local firms. To be more specific, the going first year salary at market firms in Miami is in the neighborhood of 105,000. Well known "market" firms with offices in Miami include Akerman Senterfitt, Carlton Fields, Greenberg Traurig, Gunster Yoakley, Hogan & Hartson, Holland & Knight and Hunton & Williams. Note that these are not all national Vault 100 firms (though some are). Others are regionally and locally prominent firms that a reasonably knowledgable person would describe as Miami's "top" firms. I highly doubt that much more than 10% of Miami's typical graduating class winds up working for these firms or their peers in Miami and other cities. HTH.

Posted by: Lou | Mar 12, 2006 9:51:16 PM

According to the school's published statistics, 89% of last year's class and 86% of the class before that obtained jobs within six months of graduation. That is not a small percentage of graduates finding "market jobs" -- whatever the hell that phrase means. I fully expect that many reading this will dismiss those statistics as propaganda, and that is fine. I dismiss most of your complaints about UM as only so much sycophantic devotion to the U.S. News and World Report rankings. Tell me what it's like to have to read a magazine to know what you think about the world. That kind of independence of mind is admirable. No, really, it is admirable.

Posted by: Lou | Mar 12, 2006 2:14:02 PM

I find it hysterical that these UM trolls are unwilling to acknowledge one of the "LSAT-obsessed" poster's central points: only a small percentage of UM graduates land market jobs and, thus, for many individuals the UM law degree is not a wise investment.

Posted by: Mrme | Mar 12, 2006 12:08:25 PM

Hugs,

I don't really know what to say in reponse to your eugenic argument. I attend UM Law School, scored well on my LSAT and graduated with high Latin honors from Tulane. This is by not means to brag, but rather to let you know that I -- and many others -- didn't end up here as a last resort. Your comments are ignorant and profoundly offensive. You really, really need to put down the U.S. News and World Report rankings book and get to know a few of us. You might be surprised by what you find....

Posted by: Lou | Mar 10, 2006 4:51:10 PM

Dear Lou,

The LSAT is not a complete arbiter of intellectual worth. Doing poorly on it however (especially poorly enough to end up at UM), carries certain “connotations”. For example, if someone cannot read a passage and answer a main idea question about it, I’m going to wonder if they have a second grade reading level. Perhaps this person is intelligent in other areas, but then why is s/he going to law school?

I think there is a huge disconnect between the concerns of Vladeck and the concerns of his students. He graduated at the top of his class at Yale, where everyone gets a job. He teaches at University of Miami, where the top 10% gets to scratch and claw for market rate jobs and the rest of the class ends up in these “under living wage” jobs he is supposedly against. If he was really concerned with fighting poverty, he wouldn’t be screwing with the legal education students are paying $30K+ a year for. He could have a larger impact on poverty by working to make his students employable in the legal field instead of directing his efforts towards ensuring that they will make $8.00 an hour instead of $6.00 when they become janitors.

Posted by: Hugs and Kisses, Hope This Helps! | Mar 10, 2006 3:19:40 PM

You liberal professors are such douche bags. I support your right to be pissed if clerical staff makes less than a "living wage." I support your right to tell the admins to pay them more. But no, in typical douche bag liberalism, you identify the speaker as possibly a Federalist type, simply because he asserts his right to an education at the school itself. You are shocked SHOCKED that people might be pissed about driving "a mile or two" to a church or some other silly place to take LAW SCHOOL classes. Of course, this is plain stupid. That's why none of you will be found working in the real world. Here, we get FIRED for espousing such crap and doing douche bag things like this. "Hey boss, I'm pissed that the janitors in the buidling make $8/hr. I'm going to work from home instead. If you need me, drive over to my house, and we can discuss anything related to work."

You guys are really making a law school I had some respect for look evern worse. Keep it up, douche bags.

Posted by: liberals | Mar 10, 2006 12:59:03 PM

Selfish professors at law school. This is news?

Posted by: Bob | Mar 10, 2006 9:33:34 AM

Hugs and Kisses,

You're a pompous jackanapes and your contribution adds nothing to this discussion. Your complete faith in the LSAT as an arbiter of one's intellectual worth is breathtaking, insipid and shallow. I think I'd have to go back to the 1880s to find such arrant espousal of Social Darwinism.

Posted by: Lou | Mar 10, 2006 9:11:33 AM

Professor Vladeck,

Respectfully, a comment regarding off-campus classes: The venue might be "nearby". It might even be pretty and sunny. However, it appears as though you are looking at your 90-minute off-campus class too narrowly-- that is, in isolation.

Don't forget, some students have class directly before or after one held at an alternative location, and are faced with prioritizing which one they need to leave early from or arrive late at. I have personally been in class, 10-15 minutes in session, when a student has walked in late. This student was coming from your off-campus class session. This inconveniences not only that particular student, but those in class that must tolerate disruptions when students come in late.

In other words, look not just at whether you personally feel you are providing a decent learning environment, but also at the domino effect your decision creates.

Posted by: student | Mar 10, 2006 2:42:45 AM

This whole saga is hilarious and sad at the same time.

To the professors: Please just take pity on these poor students and move your classes back to campus. They pay a ridiculous amount of money for a degree that will not even land the vast majority of them a market biglaw job, so you could at least demonstrate benevolence by making their time in law school as painless as possible.

The pompous, self-glorification is astounding. Please do not engage in such dissembling by claiming that UM is some sort of "academic community". You are operating in the business of churning out unprestigious JDs. Admit that to yourselves, and stop making students suffer for your petty little causes.

The student body is made up of individuals who ended up with 155 LSATs because they couldn't read a paragraph and answer questions about it. Not exactly the cream of the crop. Anyone with a legitimate academic bent will be at one of about 15 law schools. This self-sorting is doubly ironic, because the people with 155 LSATs are the same ones who aren't intelligent enough to do an expected value calculation on paying $100K in tuition for a degree that will only be worthwhile for the top 10% of the class.


To the innocent little girl who is "terrified" when free market values are espoused: I'd imagine there is a strong correlation between not understanding capitalism and ending up at a TTT law school.

Posted by: Hugs and Kisses, Hope This Helps! | Mar 10, 2006 1:42:03 AM

Career:

My initial comment re professors' career choices was a mere guess on my part to try and get to the root of the professors' motivations for choosing to hold classes off-campus. Since I believe that teaching students is the primary purpose of any professor/teacher, I failed to see (and continue to fail to see) how providing a substandard educational experience in substandard off-campus facilities is in furtherance of what should presumably be the goal of every professor - to teach students. I am guessing that some professors either see their raison d'etre as something other than teaching students (Publishing? Speaking at Symposia? Religious Proselytization? Political Grandstanding?) or they simply chose a career as a professor for a reason having nothing to do with the well-being of the student body.

BTW - Professor Vladeck's response was "for the first time since I got here, I'm wondering if I made the right decision". Perhaps my guess hit the mark, after all.

Posted by: Now We Know Why Miami Is a Second-Tier School | Mar 10, 2006 1:37:49 AM

NWKW -- Where did the professor express possible dissatisfaction with his career choice? I think his point was only that feelings such as yours change his impression of his students, and of the school at which he teaches.

Posted by: Career Choice? | Mar 10, 2006 1:30:56 AM

http://www.xoxohth.com/thread.php?thread_id=376307&mc=113&forum_id=2

Posted by: Steve Vladeck is a Marxist TTT | Mar 10, 2006 1:29:13 AM

Professor Vladeck:

I will accept your invitation to have "the last word", as it were. The long and short of it is that I believe it is of the utmost importance to make sure that professors realize just how disruptive holding classes off-campus truly is, and how significantly this practice is affecting (in a negative way) our education. In your mind, you are doing the right thing. You are entitled to your opinion. In my opinion, and, I submit, in the opinion of quite a few others, your decision, while in your mind the correct one, was not the best way to handle the situation. To use the labor dispute as a vehicle through which to express your views on a variety of subjects (some, like possible dissatisfaction with career choice, having nothing to do with the labor dispute itself) while subjecting your students to significant hardships is a travesty, in my opinion. But, as I've conceded, you are a professor and, as in any dictatorship, the person in the position of power is the one who ultimately gets to make the final decision to which all must conform (or not, to their own peril).

You believe you are taking your students' interests to heart. I respectfully disagree, because I don't think you truly understand the hardships that your actions are creating for a vast majority of students. However, as stated ad nauseam earlier, you are entitled to pursue whatever course of action you see fit, and to justify it in your mind in any manner that makes you feel comfortable.

I do not question the fact that you are a personable individual. I do not question the fact that you are a bright attorney. I do not question the fact that you grace this institution with your presence on the faculty. I do question whether you are pursuing the best course of action in response to the strike, and the one that will least impact the fewest students possible.

Posted by: Now We Know Why Miami Is a Second-Tier School | Mar 10, 2006 1:14:32 AM

"Now We Know":

This will be my last response to you on this thread. Feel free to have the last word, or not, but you say a couple of things in your last post that I felt compelled to respond to.

First: I still believe that you are conflating your opinion with my motives. You equate the inconvenience to you of having class off campus with the convenience to my views of having class off campus. But, as I've said time and again, it's not just about you, and it's not just about me. There are lots of other people out there, and they have thoughts, too. I don't know if a majority of your classmates support having class on campus. All I know is that my students supported my decision, and that, for now, is all I care about.

Second: I'm just not going to respond to the religion point. If someone is actively soliciting for donations in the church where your class is, during class, I find that somewhat objectionable. Short of that, I continue to see no problem here.

Third: Respectfully, students who won't cross the picket line have just as much "not brought this decision upon [them]selves" either, unless you think the strike was their idea.

Fourth: I guess I just don't think of ventilation and access to electrical outlets as material aspects of education, as compared to the substance of the class. Otherwise, those days last fall when we didn't have air conditioning must have been really bothersome, and not just uncomfortable, for you...

Finally, on the disability point: You are right to be critical of me here. I haven't heard of any such incidents, but that is by no means to say none have taken place, and I do apologize for insinuating that this was a fabrication. And if you are one of the students who has been affected, all the more so. I wouldn't dare belittle the difficulties that students requiring special accomodation encounter on a daily basis, even when circumstances are at their best.

But it's "accomodation" that is at the core of our disagreement. Because I see my responsibility as including the accomodation of students who won't cross the picket line. I accept and respect that you see my responsibility differently. Just put yourself in my shoes for a second: If a majority of your students favored holding class off campus, and if you yourself would prefer not to cross the picket line, what would you do?

I'm not trying to assail your motives or your state of mind. This all started with you saying the following: "Do I question your judgment? Absolutely. Do I believe that you do not have the students' best interests at heart? Unquestionably." My point has only been, and continues to only be, that there's a fine line between having your own opinion and telling me how to do my job.

As for your "reprisals" point, let me be crystal clear: I hold no hard feelings toward you, and hope that you will decide to sit in on one of my classes so you can see, firsthand, how much I care about all of my students, and how hard I try to accomodate all of them. Until then, I guess you'll just have to be left to your conclusion, based purely on what I've written here, that I lack judgment and don't have my students' best interests at heart.

Needless to say, I relish the opportunity to prove you wrong.

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | Mar 10, 2006 1:04:10 AM

Lou:

There are some for whom it is offensive to be in a room and, above the professor's head, is Christ on the cross. What can I say - religion is a very personal thing, and while I personally have no beef with any of the teachings of the major Western religions (Peace, Love Thy Neighbor, etc.), I can certainly understand how someone might feel uncomfortable taking their shoes off and entering a mosque, and so on. The indirect support comes in a variety of ways. First, one's presence, against their will, in a house of worship, lends indirectly to the support of an established religion. Second, the fact that university dollars, from tuition money, are being paid to religious sects in order to secure the use of their facilities offends those who do not wish to support an established religion with their hard-earned money. Finally, when students are directly solicited for donations when entering a religious facility, even if they choose not to donate, this is obviously an uncomfortable position in which to find oneself.

I realize that this strike probably took most, if not all, of us by surprise, but it would have been far more considerate of those professors who decided to hold class off-campus to choose a more neutral location.

Posted by: Now We Know Why Miami Is a Second-Tier School | Mar 10, 2006 12:49:10 AM

You're indirectly supporting another religion simply by being in that church, temple or mosque? What? Am I missing something here? Please explain: a.) how that is offensive; and b.) how that is supporting a religion different from one's own.

Posted by: Lou | Mar 10, 2006 12:41:32 AM

Professor Vladeck:

Are my views any more entrenched than your own, or those of your colleagues? I believe that I've been over the top in my defense of your right to hold your views, as, in your own way, you have been of mine. However, I must still continue to question the sagacity of having classes off-campus, as I believe that the negatives caused by this decision far outweigh the modicum of positive energy that is created by such a choice.

First, I did not say that UM's facilities were perfect. But, as I'm sure you would admit, they are classrooms, which were designed, and have functioned and continue to function, as classrooms. Given the choice between a classroom with lighting, air conditioning, desks, electricity, blackboards, dry erase markers, voice amplification, overhead projectors, etc. and a dark, poorly ventilated, ill-equipped (for a class session, anyway) church, I fail to see how the choice is not crystal clear.

Second, I am not grasping at straws, or using religion as a crutch. There are students who find being forced to attend class in a church (feel free to substitute temple, mosque, meeting house, etc.) offensive. These students are indirectly supporting a religion to which they do not subscribe. And I do consider this to be proselytization when donations to the church are solicited. If someone wants to give money to a church, that is their business. But when these donations are solicited from law students simply trying to get an education and not wishing to be converted to a particular way of thinking, there is a problem. This situation has been addressed with individual professors and with Dean Lynch, and it has not been resolved. But I am certainly open to suggestions from the professors or the administration as to how this might be addressed so as not to turn UM into a sectarian institution.

Third, it is my belief that students who choose not to cross the picket line should bear the brunt of their decision. This is an opportunity cost of electing to pursue one course of action, and forego another. Students that wish to continue attending class on a regular schedule are being forced to make a choice, which is not really a choice at all (go to class or suffer the consequences during the final exam). We have not done anything to warrant being painted into such a corner. If students wish to express their views by not attending class, so be it, and I support them for taking a stand. But those who expect to come to class as we have been all year should not be forced to make a choice when we have not brought this decision upon ourselves.

Fourth, I agree that my tuition money goes towards my education in general. However, I don't believe that I am receiving this education when my classes are moved off-campus to substandard facilities. I am paying for a service - I am not even receiving a close facsimile of what I have a right to expect.

As to the disability argument, I resent your casting this as a parade of horribles. There ARE disabled students who are having major issues with classes being held off-campus. This HAS been brought to the attention of Dean Lynch and individual professors, and the response has universally been that if classes are being held off-campus, we are "excused" from attending those classes. However, since they are being held off-campus and not under the auspices of the university, no accommodation can be provided by the university for transportation to or from these classes for students with disabilities, and no accommodation can be made in these faux "classrooms" to accommodate students with learning disabilities, since the university has no control over these last-minute, replacement spaces. Forgive me for interpreting this response, or lack thereof, as being sensitive to the concerns of disabled students.

I'm truly sorry that you find it necessary to cast my opinion (while first nominally supporting my right to have it) as being selfish. I might say the same about the professors who have made the decision to move classes off-campus. I thought the point of this blog was to air views related to the off-campus class situation, and to do so with a spirit of collegiality. If indeed I've characterized this correctly, I believe that you are violating this in word and deed. My point is merely to disagree with your chosen course of action. I never dreamed that expressing an opinion about the quality of education I'm receiving would be considered selfish, and I'm saddened to think that this is how a respected professor would view it.

As I stated to Nneka, above, I prefer to remain anonymous so as to avoid the inevitable faculty reprisals. You may think that no such reprisals would take place, but, as your last post's characterization of my motives and state of mind clearly demonstrates, they already have.

Posted by: Now We Know Why Miami Is a Second-Tier School | Mar 10, 2006 12:29:27 AM

(Sorry I didn't get to post this in your other thread. This one seems to have taken off, so once more into the breach...)

I understand your explanation, Prof. Vladek, but I don't think it's a useful compromise. It doesn't help the striking workers (it doesn't hurt them the way crossing the line would, but it certainly doesn't help), and it hurts at least some of your students to the benefit of the others. I understand that you're trying to balance your sincere desire not to cross with the interests of your students (some who would cross and some who wouldn't). I guess I just don't find your particular course of action compelling or satisfactory. In my mind, strikes are about absolutes. Not crossing the picket line is an absolute. Striking itself is an absolute (we won't work until our demands are met, etc.).

Not crossing the line, but still doing your job, (equally attending class) serves only an empty symbolic purpose. That's fine behavior for an uninvolved party (like Kerry refusing to cross in Boston at the U.S. Conference of Mayors) who wants to lend symbolic and well publicized support to a group that he can't support directly, but your involvement with the janitor's employer (direct or through a contractor) makes it incumbent upon you to lend more than just symbolic support. You even admit yourself that you're willing to cross under the right circumstances! When the mechanics strike and pilots refuse to cross, that's support! What a tough decision it must be for those pilots who care about getting their passengers to their destinations!

How many of your like-minded colleagues and students would it take to stop the strike in a week by cancelling class/refusing to attend? Is it worth it? Don't the janitors deserve a living wage?

(I hope you take the sarcasm in the good-natured way that it's intended. I say (write) these things light-heartedly.)

Posted by: billb | Mar 10, 2006 12:27:47 AM

Professor Harrison:

I never said that a court would necessarily entertain an action for breach of contract against the university. As a matter of fact, I believe that I said that I personally did not support legal action against the school. However, as I'm sure you can appreciate, a complaint should properly address all possible causes of action at the outset, if only to avoid the troublesome amendment process. Anyone contemplating legal action against the university would, I am certain, conduct a full pre-filing investigation to ascertain the legitimacy of all allegations and legal bases. My response to your comment (1) was simply in response to the ease with which you predicted what NO court ANYWHERE would EVER do under ANY circumstances. Given the proper legal contentions and a skilled advocate, I believe that there are many arguments which could be made relevant to a given fact pattern.

Nneka:

I admit that words can be taken out of context and in ways in which the "speaker" did not intend them to be "heard". I, personally, as I believe I have made patently clear, do not harbor any hatred towards Professor Vladeck or any professor, for that matter. My initial posts were designed, perhaps in more of a "ruffling the feathers" manner than in retrospect I might have intended, to make the professors realize that of course there are those on campus who are harboring feelings of ill will towards them. The decision to hold classes off-campus is not one which some students are taking lightly, and there are some who, for better or worse, will inevitably question the professors' motivations, commitment, etc. As for my own personal feelings, as I think I've expressed, I do not believe that the decision to hold classes off-campus was a wise one, for a variety of reasons. I sincerely hope that these professors reconsider their decisions. However, I do not think any less of any of them as human beings, professors, or - dare I say - colleagues by virtue of the fact that they are doing something of which I wholeheartedly disapprove.

I appreciate your airing your views as well, and perhaps someday I shall see fit to introduce myself to you on campus. For now, however, I prefer to remain anonymous so as to spare myself any possible reprisals from professors who disagree with myself and others who feel that holding classes off-campus is a poor decision. My thanks to you as well for taking the time to air your own views, as I believe that this is important when a controversy such as the present one is tearing our campus apart.

Posted by: Now We Know Why Miami Is a Second-Tier School | Mar 10, 2006 12:01:08 AM

Wow. I attend another law school and have had both liberal and conservative professors. One of the things I really appreciate about my professors is that regardless of their political leanings they are willing to recognize the reality of the situation and call a spade a spade.
Professor Vladeck obviously does not. "Been there" is 100% correct in the above posts. Professor Vladeck needs to face reality and recognize that he is distinctly imposing costs and disadvantaging any students who feel strongly pro-management. He may be rightly skeptical that any of these students exist, but if they do his actions are clearly to their great disadvantage. Professors do have a duty to express and support their beliefs, but they should also acknowlege the realities and consequences of their actions. Professor Vladeck has chosen his beliefs to the serious detriment of some of his students and as such deserves any consequences that may follow.

These type of actions reinforce the negative and intollerant liberal steroetypes prevelant in Academia (the Summers situation is another excellent example of this...)

Posted by: passerby | Mar 10, 2006 12:01:04 AM

"Billb" writes:

"I think you and your like-minded (and like-acting) colleagues have taken a pretty self-serving position on the strike. If you believe that the strike is justified, you should have the courage of your convictions and cancel your classes outright for the duration of the strike or oppose the move. . . . The law school can live without its janitors for quite some time, but it can't function at all without its faculty."

I really think the original post responds to this, but I'll try again. If, as "Now You Know" claims, I didn't care about my students, I _would_ cancel class. I wouldn't show up for work. I wouldn't write letters of recommendation. I'd pick up a sign and join the picket line. But I _do_ care about my students, and have decided, with their help, mind you, that this is the best compromise. Just as it was a compromise for me to cross the picket line Tuesday to attend the town hall meeting. This is not about absolutes. It's about balancing your professional responsibilities with your personal feelings. It's only if I cancelled my classes that I think "Now You Know" and his friends would be right -- that I really had abdicated my responsibilities as a teacher. True, that would more likely have an effect on the University, but it would also redound to the negative for my students in a way that I can't, and won't, accept.

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | Mar 9, 2006 11:54:06 PM

"Now We Know":

I'm not sure if it's worth it to respond at this point, given how deeply entrenched your views appear to be. But, I'll try, because I really do respect and appreciate your willingness to share your opinion.

You say that there are many issues contributing to your opinion, not just convenience (even though your second point in support thereof is convenience).

First, you say that we're not providing the best learning environment. I never said it was the best. In fact, I dare say that none of the classrooms at UM are my idea of the "best learning environment." Are your classes substantively inferior off campus, or just your disposition toward them? I taught last semester in A110. That room sucked--er, was not my idea of the ideal learning environment. Are my students entitled to a partial refund?

Second, I am Jewish, and cannot understand _any_ scenario wherein having class in a church is religiously offensive or proselytizing (at least to my religion). But, I'm not there, so I can only speculate. I'm sure that if a student were religiously offended, any of my colleagues would gladly accomodate that. This strikes me as grasping at straws, and using religion as a crutch.

Third, I've already responded like 26 times to your "pawns in a political game" point. What about the student who could not fathom crossing the picket line? If they're not a pawn in the "political game" of on-campus classes, how are you, here? Is there really a neutral solution here? At bottom, strikes make it inconvenient to have classes on campus for those who support the strike, and off-campus for those who don't. Why is the inconvenience to you more important?

Fourth, as to your tuition argument, I respectfully suggest that your tuition goes toward your education generally, and not your education at x time in y classroom for z minutes. If we gave you that kind of control over your tuition dollars, well, there'd be no Center for Ethics and Public Service, no elements class, no grades in LRW (wait, maybe you're on to something)... we don't charge by the pound.

As to the disability point, again, I think you're appropriating a very serious and worrisome eventuality. I have absolutely no doubt that a student who is in need of physical accomodation would go through proper channels and receive those accomodations. Are you aware of any case to the contrary, or is this more of the fictional parade of horribles that you're using to cover the extent to which you're really upset about how this impacts you?

Look: I think that this has gotten way out of hand, in no small part because I really don't think that you understand what it would mean to lots of other people to have class _on_ campus. I don't disagree with you that having class off campus is significantly inconvenient for many, is not the best learning environment, and is otherwise an imperfect solution to a messy problem. But you proceed on the assumption that everything would be hunky dory if class were on campus. While that may be true for you, it is not true for many other people, including those you can't (or don't) see.

I don't know how to say this any better. I'm really not oblivious to the extent to which this situation has made your life difficult. I just believe that there is a lot more going on here than you.

I would encourage you, just as I would encourage anyone who disagrees with me, to further explore this with me in person. I may not have all of the answers. I may not be able to convince you. But please don't think that I don't care. I'm only devoting so much energy to this because I do.

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | Mar 9, 2006 11:48:41 PM

"Now We Know"

See....
This past post of yours -"Now We Know Why" is much more respectful. Do you see the difference? You should go back and read your first and second post. They were awful. I respect EVERYONES right to have their opinion no matter what. You maybe or maybe not surprised at what people have told me to MY FACE and I respect what they have had to say and them all at the same time.

I AM GLAD THAT I MISINTERPRETED your comments to the Professor. I would hate to think that others (possibly all over this globe) are reading those comments and coming away from them shaking their heads. Sir or Madam, I am one of the most OPEN-MINDED persons I know (except when it comes to unprotected sex) OR that you will ever meet.

SOME of what you have said IS NOT DIAMETRICALLY opposed to my views. I actually agree with SOME of the "substance" of what you espouse. Go back and re-read my post. I DO NOT AGREE WITH "THE WAY/MANNER" IN WHICH YOU DID IT SIR. There was no need for (what I perceived as HATRED) the "tone" of your comments. It makes us all look backwards here. Like we can't even occupy the same space and be civil.

You stated--- I'm sorry you cannot appreciate the fact that I do respect Professor Vladeck's right to have his own opinion regarding this whole scenario. Unfortunately, you do not seem to have the same respect for those who express opinions diametrically opposed to your own. This intolerance is surprising, especially given the relatively open, intellectual environment of an institution of higher learning.----
NWKW- Your latter posts do show MORE CIVILITY AND RESPECT toward Prof. V and I applaud you for taking time to cool down. I have used my real name hear and if you know who I am (BTW there is only one Nneka in Coral Gables), you would be very hard pressed to refer to me in anyway as "intolerant". Just the opposite. Your last statement is exactly what I have been telling people (other students, alumni, undergrads, friends, and family elsewhere). I choose not to believe that you are not being sarcastic because I don't get that vibe.

I just suggest that you watch the way in which you use your words and how you string them together. Your previous posts are diametically different in TONE from the latter ones.
I thank you for being civil and allowing for continued discussion.

Posted by: Nneka | Mar 9, 2006 11:43:55 PM

After seeing the video, I agree wholeheartedly with Anthony's comments above. I do not feel that Professor Vladeck made the right choice by moving his classes off-campus, but the student who gave that speech at the "town hall" meeting deserved Prof. Vladeck's criticism.

Posted by: CL | Mar 9, 2006 11:38:00 PM

I think that's a pretty glib response to what I think is a valid response to your position. Does your excuse of the absences get the student around the ABA's attendance requirements? Are your students who miss class also excused from the material you're covering when it comes times for the exam? If the answers are "no" then your excuse is really no excuse at all.

I think you and your like-minded (and like-acting) colleagues have taken a pretty self-serving position on the strike. If you believe that the strike is justified, you should have the courage of your convictions and cancel your classes outright for the duration of the strike or oppose the move. This is the only way to help the striking workers. Moving class off campus only serves to inflame the passions of your students that oppose the strike. University management isn't affected in the least by your actions. It serves as no motivation to bring the strike to a quicker end. The law school can live without its janitors for quite some time, but it can't function at all without its faculty.

Your position only manages to highlight your apparent but ineffective support for the striking workers. You, and the students who support your position, get to pat yourselves on the back for helping the working man, but as long as you continue to teach, they aren't receiving an ounce of useful support. It's all a lot of puffery as far as I can tell.

Posted by: billb | Mar 9, 2006 11:36:50 PM

Nneka:

I'm sorry you cannot appreciate the fact that I do respect Professor Vladeck's right to have his own opinion regarding this whole scenario. Unfortunately, you do not seem to have the same respect for those who express opinions diametrically opposed to your own. This intolerance is surprising, especially given the relatively open, intellectual environment of an institution of higher learning.

If you construed my tone as being disrespectful or hateful in any way, please know that you have entirely misinterpreted the meaning of my posts. Might I suggest that being a little more open-minded might suit you. In that way, perhaps we can maintain (or, more accurately, restore) some civility in this situation, so that the healing process can begin before the work dispute is even settled.

Posted by: Now We Know Why Miami Is a Second-Tier School | Mar 9, 2006 11:20:33 PM

Professor Vladeck:

Thank you for making my point as eloquently as anyone could. You concede that the off-campus facilities are "imperfect". As such, the overall educational experience that professors COULD be providing their students is NOT being provided. In this respect, professors ARE abrogating their duty to their students. You are also correct that this IS a serious charge. As such, you might reconsider the extreme, palpable, negative impact you are having on the education of those students who have sacrificed so much to get here in order to expose themselves to a proper legal education.

I do not maintain that my point of view is the only one, or is more important or valid than anyone else's. However, by imposing your political, economic, social and religious views upon your students, you are forcing those for whom the strike is not the center of their existence to make a "choice", which is not really a choice at all. I do not maintain that I am speaking for all students. I am speaking for me, and in my opinion, that is important enough. I do not feel that I am receiving as optimal an educational experience as I could, and should, be receiving because of the substandard off-campus facilities. I wholeheartedly disagree with professors' decisions to hold classes off-campus because I feel it directly impacts the quality of my education, and does not help in the least the "cause" that it purportedly seeks to help.

I do not presume to understand you or your colleagues, nor would I even begin to attempt to try. We have a fundamental difference of opinion about what constitutes a legal education. I do not mean to impugn your intent or motive in any way. However, the RESULT of your actions is pretty easy to evaluate.

Additionally, I resent your comment that my opinion is motivated solely by my own convenience. There are MANY issues which contribute to the error of the professors' ways, in my opinion. Some of these are:

(1) The decision to hold classes off-campus, even while knowing that the facilities are substandard and unfit for classroom instruction, does not provide students with the best learning environment in which professors can impart their knowledge to their students.

(2) Not all students have personal transportation, and getting to and from campus is extremely inconvenient.

(3) There are some students who resent being forced to adopt a political viewpoint regarding the labor dispute that they have no interest in adopting. We are being used as pawns in a political game, against our will.

(4) There are some students who resent being forced to attend classes in a religious institution. This is, in no uncertain terms, being proselytized - plain and simple.

(5) There are some students who feel that their tuition money - part of which undoubtedly is used to maintain the law school campus facilities - is being wasted when these facilities are allowed to remain dormant, although physically present and available.

(6) Some students have physical and/or learning disabilities, and it is extremely inconvenient for them to be forced to go to class off-campus in facilities that are not designed to accommodate them.

Does this sound like I am motivated solely by personal convenience? The only absolutist viewpoint is the one being expressed by the professors. As a matter of fact, there is one professor (that I know of, anyway) that DID take a vote (overwhelmingly in favor of remaining on campus), only to disregard the results and move off-campus anyway. Welcome to the return of "democracy" - USSR-style.

I sincerely hope that you and your colleagues see fit to reconsider the impact of your decision, especially since this dispute may well carry on for the rest of the semester and beyond. I also hope that you can appreciate the deep divides that this dispute has caused in the campus community - divides that will not soon be healed, unfortunately.

Posted by: Now We Know Why Miami Is a Second-Tier School | Mar 9, 2006 11:07:22 PM

When I saw this blog post last night, I thought Prof. Vladeck was completely 100% in the wrong and that it reflected poorly to make a blog post like this about a student's remarks.

I just saw the video, and I now not only 100% support Prof. Vladeck, but I'm amazed he didn't go further in his initial post.

The student who made those remarks was *way* out of line, and while I disagree with Prof. Vladeck's decision about holding class off-campus, the people criticizing Prof. Vladeck for how he's treated this student really need to watch this video.

Posted by: Anthony | Mar 9, 2006 11:03:32 PM

"Now We Know"...

See the thing about words, is that they can come off certain ways in how you string them together. You are allowed to voice your opinion. That is what is so great about the USA. HOWEVER, when you use bold and capitalized letters, I THINK you mean to come off like a HATE-filled student. Come on, "Now We Know Why Miami Is a Second-Tier School" is the name you use instead of your own. This just shows the level of your awful anger and the bile that you effuse. If you don't have electricity, light or ventilation as you previously stated, you should speak to Dean Lynch immediately. I think you aren't being truthful but if you are, the Dean would NEVER allow this.
The classroom is not the ONLY place to learn. When we engage with others outside of the classroom, we continue to learn. Internships are all about learning and these do not happen in a class of 200.

You even started with --So Professor Vladeck is upset with the vitriol that the irresponsible actions of a handful of "limousine liberal" professors has generated? Time to step out from behind the ivy-covered walls and face reality, Professor!---
Jeez... I feel the animosity and hate coming off that post in waves. It comes across like a little, silly kid's "Na-nanny-boo-boo". Unfortunately when students post such posts as you have, WE ALL LOOK BAD at the school. Other professors reading this will wonder at the anger/disrespect/animosity/hate that students show towards others, (1)professors who are guides in the learning process and (2)students who will one day be their collegues.

You also state--- My professors are NOT teaching when they hold classes off-campus - they are shirking their responsibilities precisely by NOT teaching me and not providing me with an acceptable environment geared towards the learning experience when this environment is available, and is being supported by my tuition money. Rooms 209 and 309 offer something that churches, women's clubs, football fields, Port-O-Sans, etc. do not offer - they are CLASSROOMS. What a novel idea - to hold class in a classroom! By golly, what will they think of next?-----
Ok so..."Port-O-Sans", "By golly", "What a novel idea". You really want to hold on that "no hate" thing. If you read other posts here, students and profs who DISAGREE with Prof. Vladeck still show the respect that all lawyers and future lawyers should have. Jeezzz... for that matter HUMAN BEINGS should have. You can express yourself without resulting to an utter disrespectful, hate-filled TONE, (YES SIR), TONE of your statements here.

Here's what I will do. I'll show some other students on campus your posts and ask them what they think of them. I'll even ask some undergrads. I'll get back to the Blog with the results.


Finally, you state ---Do I believe that you do not have the students' best interests at heart? Unquestionably. Do I respect your right to have your own opinion, and do I respect you by virtue of the fact that you are a professor? Absolutely.--------

You, Madam or Sir, do not know Professor Vladeck. We, the students, are absolutely the reason why he is here. He does not have to teach here my friend. If you knew him or even talked to him you would realize the extent of the lies you espouse. You do not RESPECT him in anyway because all you have done here besides show the ugly side of the students at Miami is to disrespect a Great prof who has been respectful to you and your "opinion". You don't respect anyones rights but that's ok. You may tell me your name in school(since you are anon here and I'm not) and I'll be happy to take note.

Posted by: Nneka | Mar 9, 2006 10:52:06 PM

Anon2 -- My students overwhelmingly supported my decision, if not the basis thereof.

As for FXKLM, being absent from my class is excused. If you want to spend those two hours sitting in the classroom, staring at the wall, as the old white guy says in "Coming to America," "it's a free country."

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | Mar 9, 2006 10:32:13 PM

Professor Vladeck, I agree with you that either decision would impose a burden on some students, but the solution seems fairly clear: Let your students vote on the issue (off campus or on). Why wouldn't that accomodate most of the issues you mention?

Posted by: anon2 | Mar 9, 2006 10:29:32 PM

P.S. To see a video of the comment that started all of this, go to this webpage, and open "Part I" from the town hall meeting. The comment starts 21:30 into the video.

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | Mar 9, 2006 10:19:53 PM

"Now We Know":

To accuse a professor of abrogating his duty to his students is a rather serious charge, and is not, respectfully, just your expression of your opinion (which, I agree with you, you otherwise have a right to, and to explicate here). Rather, by suggesting that I don't have _my_ students' best interests at heart, you are telling me what _my_ motive and intent are. And with all due respect, that's not the same thing as telling me that (and why) you disagree with my decision to hold class off campus.

This fracas hasn't blinded me to anything. Indeed, it's opened my eyes to the ability of our students to see everything in absolute terms measured solely by their own convenience. Are some of the off-campus facilities imperfect? Without question. If they weren't, we'd teach there all the time. But this isn't only about you, "Now We Know," and it isn't only about the environs in which your class occurs. What about your fellow students, who would rather sit in a darker hall with poorer ventilation because that is one of the ways they can support those who live lives without these bare necessities as a permanent fixture? Is your viewpoint more important than theirs? Does your comfort and ability to access the internet during class supersede their desire to support those whom you would just as quickly walk past on your way to an air-conditioned classroom? Indeed, have you spoken to a majority of your classmates, or just those who think everyone is here for their benefit? As I told my seminar, if most of them wanted to go back on campus, I would. Don't assume, because you're inconvenienced, that we, your professors, are oblivious and uncaring. But don't assume, either, that everyone shares your view just because you do.

The last thing I would want is for this to be personal. My last response to you was motivated by what I perceived to be a very personal attack on me, and to the extent you didn't mean it, I apologize for responding in kind. Don't ever doubt my respect for your right to disagree. But don't, in the process, disrespect me and my fellow colleagues by assuming that you understand us, and why we're doing what we're doing. We're not always right, but that sure as hell ain't for lack of trying.

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | Mar 9, 2006 10:09:53 PM

Now we know:

If you think that any court would entertain a student's lawsuit against the university for breach of contract because his or her professors moved classes off-campus during a strike, perhaps we have done an insufficient job of educating you about contract law (and labor law, for that matter).

Now we know, indeed.

Posted by: Lindsay Harrison | Mar 9, 2006 10:07:11 PM

Professor Harrison:

To address your comments as you have labeled them:

(1) NO court would hold that the university was breaching its contract? That's a pretty broad stroke, don't you think? I'm not sure I buy into your analysis that the powers of prognostication are that accurate when it comes to what any given court will say regarding a given set of circumstances. Additionally, because YOUR students "beg" you to teach in [sic] the bricks does not mean that EVERY student wishes to attend class in non-classroom locations.

(2) My assertions of what others have said do not, in fact, lack credibility. Actually, should this situation lead to legal action being taken against the university (a course of action that, while I don't necessarily support it, certainly has more than a little merit), there are plenty of students who would be happy to offer direct testimony regarding the substandard conditions of the replacement facilities. While I was not aware that the church where most of the off-campus classes are being held subjects their congregants to tithes (I thought that only applied to Mormons and Muslims, but then again, I'm not attending a school of divinity so it may affect Roman Catholics as well), I can say after personal observation that this so-called facility is indeed sans light, electricity, suitable acoustics, and the normal accompaniment of classroom supplies (e.g. blackboard, dry erase markers, desks, etc.). Rooms 209 and/or 309 would be far preferable to the off-campus facilities - especially since they ARE being cleaned, despite the "strike".

3. I don't recall ever having claimed a constitutional right to use a laptop in class, and I wholeheartedly respect a professor's right to ban such use as they see fit. However, in the present circumstances, professors are not banning laptop use per se. What they are doing instead is making students travel off-campus (without regard to students' disabilities and/or lack of personal transportation), enter a house of worship belonging to a faith to which students do not necessarily subscribe, and subjecting them to antediluvian conditions. This should be considered a first-rate education? Forgive me if I disagree, but I thought the days of studying law by candlelight in a log cabin were common during President Lincoln's time, not in modern-day America.

BTW - I cannot take credit for the reference to Miami as a "second-tier school". This honor properly belongs to U.S. News and World Report, whose law school rankings have fairly consistently placed Miami in the lower half of the second tier for quite a few years now.

Posted by: Now We Know Why Miami Is a Second-Tier School | Mar 9, 2006 9:38:24 PM

Now We Know:

Since you seem so focused on your legal education, I will try to put this in legal terms for you.

(1) Consider your payment of tuition in exchange for a legal education as a contract. Absolutely no court would hold that changing the location of a class constitutes a "total breach" of contract because the location is not a "material term" of your contract with the university. In fact, I would argue that many students are estopped from arguing that a change in location constitutes a breach at all, since when the weather is nice, my students BEG me to teach outdoors in the bricks.

(2) Let us move on to the law of evidence. You seem to be basing your assertions concerning the relocated classrooms on hearsay -- "plenty of students" have complained that relocated classrooms have "no light, no ventilation, no electricity." As you might recall from evidence, the point of the prohibition on hearsay is that it is presumed to be lacking in credibility. I think it safe to say that your assertions of what other students have said about the relocated classrooms lack credibility. I am sure that the parishioners of the church where most of the classes off-campus are being held would certainly be interested to hear that their tithes will need to be raised this year to pay for "light" and "electricity." (Incidentally, your complaints about the off-campus classrooms raise an interesting point -- without the workers to clean your classrooms, would you really want to have class in 209 or 309, sitting up to your knees in trash and scum?)

(3) One of your complaints (and, to be fair, the only major complaint I have personally heard about the church where classes are being held) is that it lacks sufficient outlets for the use of laptops. Here, we move to constitutional law, and the absence of a "right to laptops in the classroom." There is no such right. Many professors outlaw the use of laptops in the classroom completely -- having to take notes by hand will prepare you (a) for the bar exam, as many states do not provide unlimited use of the laptop for persons taking the bar, and (b) for legal practice in the real world, where most courts prohibit attorneys from bringing computers into the courtroom. If a professor can prohibit you from using a laptop in its entirety, certainly a professor can limit your use of a laptop by means of fewer outlets.

After this little lesson in the law, hopefully you, at least, can feel like a first-tier law student, albeit in a "second-tier school."

Posted by: Lindsay Harrison | Mar 9, 2006 9:16:28 PM

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