Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress: On the Cusp

NIED #13: On the Cusp (The Last Year of the 40%/50%/65% Scholarship Cut-Offs)

                I found out on Friday (June 8) that my class rank was 239/475.  This puts me in the top 50.3% of the class. 
                A person that I do not know but hope to contact is ranked 238/475—and they are in the top 50.1%.
                Person #237/475 is ranked in the top 49.9% of the class, and is in the clear.
                #238 and myself are not the only ones in the class of 2013 that may have a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress—but the other 473 don’t write a weekly column on it.  So allow me to stand on my soapbox for an issue affecting a small number of students that underscores another reason why law school can make you want to kill yourself.
                It is perhaps worth noting that I drafted column #13 as a response to my grade in Corporations, which I felt was an unfair course, and requires a more significant time commitment than other 4 credit classes.  This is not to say I think it should be a 5 credit course, for then I would not be in this frustrating (yet oddly serendipitous) position.  I contend that I deserved a B+ in that course but this is a personal thing to take up with my professor, and I do not think the authority exists to change grades, particularly after the class ranks have been announced.  Chalk up my negligence to the fact that I’m in Chicago and can’t review my exam in person.  Oh well.
                On BLS Connect, it reads: “While we feel that these minimum academic rank requirements are generous, they nevertheless are exact.  Rounding a rank that is different in any amount from the required renewal rank cut-offs is not permissible for scholarship renewal.” See Merit Scholarship Renewal Upper Class Students, available at (last visited 6/10/12).
                Maybe it is just me, but I feel that all of the little descriptions on BLS Connect need to be revised extensively.  There is also this confusing chart:
                Total Merit Scholars Enrolled at the end of Spring Semester 2011: 358
Portion of Scholarship Renewed: 100%
  • Class Rank Required: Upper 40%
  • Approximate GPA Cut-Off: 3.355
  • Number of Scholars Renewed: 162
  • Percentage of First-Year Scholars: 45.3%
Portion of Scholarship Renewed: 80%
  • Class Rank Required: Upper 50%
  • Approximate GPA Cut-Off: 3.244
  • Number of Scholars Renewed: 39
  • Percentage of First-Year Scholars: 10.9%
Portion of Scholarship Renewed: 55%
  • Class Rank Required: Upper 65%
  • Approximate GPA Cut-Off: 3.099
  • Number of Scholars Renewed: 60
  • Percentage of First-Year Scholars: 16.8%
Portion of Scholarship Renewed: 0%
  • Class Rank: Below 65%
  • Approximate GPA Cut-Off: Below 3.099
  • Number of Scholars Not Renewed: 97
  • Percentage of First-Year Scholars Not Renewed: 27.0%
Fall 2011 Cumulative Renewal Rate: 72.9%

                Some of us may vaguely remember the school’s announcement in December 2010 that it would “boost” our GPAs in a similar way that Loyola Law School (our unofficial “sister school” on the opposite coast) did several months earlier.  Perhaps it’s interesting to look at this chart I found.  Note that it was published in March of 2008, and updated in July of 2010—so it is unclear which years this chart represents: See Brooklyn Law School, available at (last visited 6/10/12)
                Maybe the school thinks we should feel lucky that we weren’t graduating in 2009, 2010, or 2011….At the time this chart was published, this website noted that full-time tuition was $43,990.
                I am sure this (Chart #1) will be updated come Fall 2012, but from what I recall, these numbers (approximate GPA cut-offs) did not change from last year.  After Fall 2011, my GPA had risen from 3.14 to 3.26.  So I thought, okay, I’m in the clear, I just need to do as well as I did this Fall.  And this was not an easy task, for I did no worse than a B+.  My GPA for the Fall was a 3.5.
                I checked Spring 2012 grades with baited breath, and when I saw that B in Corporations, I asked my parents if I could borrow their keys, took the car to the local Dominick’s, and bought 12 cans of bud light, came home, and drank.  My parents were having a moving sale and I sat outside and drank like Will Ferrell in Everything Must Go.  Then, my last grade came in the next day—an A in a 3 credit course.  I screamed, “YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  My GPA went up to a 3.31.  I sighed in relief.  Clearly, I would hit the top 50%--and while it was highly doubtful I’d hit the top 40, it might even be possible. 
                My first year, I had a merit scholarship in the amount of $24,300.
                My second year, this total dropped to $13,365.
                My third year, this total will either be: (1) $13,365; or (2) $19,440.  This is a difference of $6,075. 
(Full Disclosure: My need-based grants have risen from $4,200 my first year, to $8,400 my second year, to an astounding $9,200 for my third year—while these are pleasant surprises, and I could potentially receive up to $28,640—or $240 more total dollars in funding than I had my first year—tuition hikes have made such a windfall relatively moot.)
Then I get the Class Ranking on Friday, and several arguments come to mind as to why I should be entitled to coverage in the top 50%:
(1)    Only a few students can ask for similar relief (and it is questionable what the change in #238’s scholarship amount reflects, if any, but for me, it is a matter of some $6,000.) 
(2)    The new policy for incoming 1Ls (only must be in top 80% to recover 100% of scholarship).
(3)    Tuition Hikes: the Class of 2013 has seen its tuition rise from $46,300 (approximately) to $48,090 to $49,486 for our last year.  (I am not going to get into the living expenses that the school calculates at $5,880—but please sign up for MEP in the Fall if you want to investigate this issue more closely.)  So the total cost is an additional $3,186, or about the cost of a Bar Review Course.
(4)    2L Transfers: Their first year grades are eliminated for purposes of calculating their class rank.  If you treat me like a second year transfer, my GPA is 3.5005, and I’m in the top 40%.  Oh.
(5)    NYU gives students grades, but does not rank them, and does not set a cut off for OCI.  I know BLS is not NYU but I do believe the students here are generally of as high a quality as there, and we should do away with rankings and just set these scholarships according to GPA. 
(6)    I took a Health Law Practicum internship where I got a “HP” and would have gotten an A had the clinic been entitled to “grade credit.”  Kids that get high grades (and big credit numbers) for clinics stand on unequal ground. 
(7)    To me this was the final straw, the last time the school could screw us, and it’s trying to take advantage of the opportunity.  Please join me in this fight for economic justice. 

Christopher J. Knorps is a 3L at Brooklyn Law School.  He serves on the Career Services Committee as an Upper Class Delegate of the Student Bar Association, is the Founder and President of Monthly Expense Project, a subsidiary of the Thrift Club, and is Managing Editor of the BLS Advocate.  He seeks Person #238 from the Class of 2013 in particular, and any other students “on the cusp” to form a group to collectively bargain with the school in regards to this issue.

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