“Today, we decided that all classes and instruction will continue to be offered in a virtual setting through the conclusion of the semester, including finals . . . . We have also decided to postpone commencement.”
—Samuel L. Stanley Jr., President of Michigan State University, March 14, 2020, https://msu.edu/coronavirus/_assets/pdfs/Stanley_community_03142020.pdf.
“IU is suspending face-to-face classes and transitioning to virtual learning for the remainder of the spring semester.”
—Michael A. McRobbie, President of Indiana University, March 15, 2020, https://president.iu.edu/speeches/statements/2020/03-15-spring-break-remote-teaching-extension-covid-19.html.
“I write to share the enormously disappointing news that IU must postpone all Spring Commencement Ceremonies on all campuses that are scheduled in May.”
—Michael A. McRobbie, President of Indiana University, March 20, 2020, https://president.iu.edu/speeches/statements/2020/03-20-spring-commencement-postponed.html.
“I have decided to extend the suspension of in-person classes at Notre Dame to the end of the semester. Distance learning for our students will continue until then.”
—Reverend John I. Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame, March 18, 2020, https://coronavirus.nd.edu/news/fr-jenkins-in-person-classes-suspended-for-remainder-of-semester-2/.
Suddenly, in March of 2020, the dream of many law students finally came true. In a series of unprecedented acts, law schools shuttered their doors to in-person courses nationwide. For a brief moment, the academic rigors of law school subsided. Hundreds of pages of weekly reading assignments, including statutes, administrative regulations, and court cases, had suddenly vanished. The dreaded cold call illustrated by pop culture in movies such as The Paper Chase and Legally Blonde, was no more. The grading curve that only permits a select few of some of the brightest legal minds to be awarded with an “A,” fostering a deeply competitive law school environment, disappeared. This had to be too good to be true, right?
Right. The transition to remote learning has been a struggle for seemingly all law schools, as administrations attempt to grapple with a situation that has never been presented before. Chains of emails fill the boxes of law students giving instructions for the remainder of the semester, most of which appear to contradict one another. Students, unsure of what to do, are taking to social media to express their concerns in the way that millennials do it best—by posting memes.
No one knows how long this will last, as more is learned about COVID-19 and society implements new measures to combat its rapid spread. No one knows for certain if commencement, a moment which many students hold dear, will occur as scheduled (for some) or at all (for others). Two things are clear, however. First, classes will continue, although in a remote format, as this global pandemic continues to spread. Second and most importantly, the friendships, achievements, and growth that each student has experienced will continue to remain throughout his or her career as a lawyer. While commencement is an extraordinary time to celebrate with family and friends, its presence is only a symbol of the gifts that have already been garnered. We must focus on the positive and help one another. Each of us are in this together, and it is together that we will rise back.
So, keep posting memes. Keep reading the latest developments in the law. Keep trying to excel this semester. And keep maintaining those friendships formed throughout law school, as you never know if your current stock of toilet paper will be enough to last you through quarantine.