Law school raises minimum GPA

By Rochelle McConkie

The College Council of the U law school voted to dismiss students from the school with cumulative GPAs below 2.5, increasing the minimum GPA from 1.85.

Students with a GPA of 2.7 or lower will be required to meet with the S. J. Quinney College of Law’s dean of students for academic advising and arrange for tutoring and other counseling to bring up their grades. Students who are dismissed will be able to petition for readmission.

The change will go into effect for the incoming class in the Fall Semester 2008, the Class of 2011. No current students will be affected by the policy.

Some students had expressed concerns with the timing of the policy change because they thought it would be unfair to alter the rules for students already enrolled. Council members changed the original proposal to push back the implementation date.

“My concerns about it applying to our class were mitigated,” said Jesse Nix, who represents first-year law students on the Student Bar Association.

Barbara Dickey, associate dean for student affairs in the College of Law, said the change was meant to identify students in need of help and was not made to increase the school’s national ratings.

“Every single student admitted in law school can meet this standard,” Dickey said. “It isn’t a way for the law school to get rid of people.”

The change passed almost unanimously in a College Council meeting on March 13 but was preceded by a heated debate through the law school e-mail system among students for and against the GPA change.

“Interestingly, most of the students voted in favor of the proposal,” said Bob Adler, associate dean for academic affairs.

Most student representatives at the meeting expressed that the students who were below the grade cutoff weren’t showing up to class or doing their work, he said.

Second-year law student Alex Stein, who argued adamantly against the change through the e-mail forum, said although he does not agree with the decision, he’s not surprised by it.

“They usually ask for our input, but with this, it just seemed like they were telling us,” Stein said.

Although Stein said he would like to think the change was a democratic decision, he said it will hurt students.

“Someone will be dismissed because of this policy who deserves another shot,” he said.

Dickey said the new policy would affect two or three students each year, becausemost students have higher averages due to a mandatory mean initiated four years ago. Each class is required to have an average of 3.1 to 3.3, which has increased averages across the board.

Dickey said the college has been experiencing “grade inflation” for the last 20 years, and increasing the minimum GPA was a necessary adjustment.

Adler said the main focus of the policy is to give students notice that they are doing poorly because it could likely affect their abilities to pass the bar exam and be successful attorneys.

Historically, a high percentage of students who apply for readmission are reaccepted, Adler said. Most of these students were dealing with medical or family issues and have them resolved before reapplying.

The council condensed the original proposal to make it more straightforward by taking out the academic warning stage. Dickey said they deliberately wanted to remove the words “probation” from the policy because students would be able to function normally, even if they are below the 2.7 range.

“Nobody will be on probation,” Dickey said. “They will still be students in good standing.”

The council also voted to change the policy for retaking classes. Students who have not completed their second year of law school will be able to retake classes in which they received a C- or lower — previously there was a smaller window to retake classes. Both grades will be reported on the students’ transcripts, but the second grade will replace the first for their GPA and class standing. Classes cannot be retaken more than once, and the class will be counted once for credit hours toward graduation.

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