Columbia University has allowed law school students who feel they suffered trauma from two high-profile grand jury decisions to postpone taking their final exams, the school’s interim dean Robert Scott wrote in a message to students this weekend.
“The law school has a policy and set of procedures for students who experience trauma during exam period,” reads Scott’s message, according to the blog PowerLine.
“In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled,” Scott continued, citing a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown in August as well as a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using a chokehold which killed 43-year-old Eric Garner in July.
Both cases have sparked heavy protests, as both officers are white while both Brown and Garner are black.
“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” the message says.
“For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”
Besides postponing exams, Scott announced other concessions.
The school will be holding special sessions next week with trauma specialist Dr. Shirley Matthews, Scott announced. Several faculty members have also agreed to hold special office hours to discuss the implications of the grand juries’ decisions.
The school will set up a reading group, speaker series and teach-ins next semester to “formulate a response to the implications, including racial meanings, of these non-indictments.”
Smith did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for more detail on how long students can postpone taking their exams.