A message from Erwin Chemerinsky
The last three weeks are unlike anything any of us ever has experienced, or hopefully ever will experience again. We are all dealing with anxieties from a new disease and stresses from the dislocation of our daily lives. We have transitioned to an entirely on-line form of education, seen the Law School and the campus closed, and been ordered to “shelter in place.”
Yet, with stunning success the Law School has remained operational and classes have continued uninterrupted. I have heard enormous praise from our students about how their professors have adapted and learning has continued. On March 9, the campus announced that all instruction would be by distance learning starting the next day, and on March 10 we successfully transitioned to all instruction by Zoom, a web-based video conferencing service. More than words can express, I am grateful to everyone for their patience and tremendous efforts to make this work.
The Law School has remained operational, even after it and the campus were closed on March 16. In addition to classes, there have been regular meetings and events. Faculty continue to hold office hours, albeit by Zoom. We are looking to increase our on-line community events. This is a time when we most need the support of each other and yet this is so much more difficult when we are kept separate.
Our Pro Bono Program office provides opportunities for our students and faculty to do pro bono work, especially on the many issues that are arising as a result of the coronavirus. It is a reflection of our public mission that so many students and faculty are eager to do this.
Based on the overwhelming sentiment of students and faculty, we have shifted to all Credit-No Credit classes this semester. The issue of grades was a source of great anxiety to many students. On March 16, I asked students and faculty to share their views on this with me. I received hundreds of messages. Overwhelmingly, both the students and faculty favored this option, including a letter signed by a large number of students.
My decision was not simply based on the number of response. I was persuaded that this is the fairest, most compassionate, and most equitable way to proceed. Many in our community have been – or I fear will be – dislocated, or have unexpected family care responsibilities, or have health issues to deal with. It is hard to imagine how this will develop and how many will be affected in what ways. Two weeks ago, I could not have imagined where we are now. Also, the shift to distance learning understandably has caused anxiety and will affect students differently. In light of all of this, changing all classes to Credit/No Credit hopefully will lessen stress at this difficult time, especially for those who are experiencing hardships of all sorts.
I have tried throughout this time to communicate with faculty, staff, and students and share all the information as we receive it. In addition to regular messages, this week, I have done a “town hall” over Zoom each day at 4:30, where I have provided new information and answered questions.
I have been so grateful to be part of this wonderful, supportive community at this strange and scary time. None of us ever will forget this spring, but I expect that among the things we will remember most are the resilience of this community and the unfailing kindness and compassion of our students, staff, and faculty.
Never before has the phrase “take care” seemed more important. Never before has the phrase “we’re all in this together” seemed more apt. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if I or the Law School administration can be of assistance in any way.