Thursday, June 22, 2006

Debate Over Journal Offices Move Continues To Spark Long, Oppressive Emails On Both Sides...Even Those Bored To Tears at Work Cannot Bear To Finish...

The below e-mail made it into our inbox a few days ago, but it basically took me until today to finish reading it. That's how long it is. It's a response from Dean T to a student who complained about the impending move of the Journal Offices to West 60th Street. The situation may have been resolved by now, but FishWatch has stopped providing up to the minute news service on all things F.U. Law since readership is now only me, CH, and my 3 non-law school friends who pretend to think this blog is funny.

Reading the e-mail over, I have realized that I am swayed by anything really, and have very few convictions. Hand me a DOJ memo on Wiretapping and I am SOLD. Hand me an ACLU one against, and I am mad as hell. Hand me an US Weekly about how sad Jen is, I put on my "Team Aniston" shirt and pay 10 bucks to see "Rumor Has It." Put Angie on Anderson Cooper and "Team Jolie" comes out of the laundry basket and I adopt an orphan with no arms.

So, not that I really cared before, but now Dean T has convinced me that moving the Journals is best. Cause if Stanford and Harvard do it this way, who are we to question such wisdom?

Here is the email in full:

Dear [Redacted],

I appreciate receiving your views about the proposed move of the Law Review, the ILJ, and the ULJ to West 60th Street. I am, at this point, still thinking through the question whether the journals will be moved, but I am writing to let you know why the move is under serious consideration.

As anyone who knows [F.U.] Law School recognizes, we face serious space difficulties. Other top schools have at least twice as much space per student as we do. We need a new building and the planning for one is actively underway. My hope is that we will have a new law school building in the near future and that all components of the school will then be housed in one building.

In the meantime, we must make temporary arrangements. Our space has become so inadequate that we cannot make obvious and needed improvements to current programs and cannot find space for new ones. Generous alumni have given us the funding to expand our Crowley Program in International Human Rights and to create the John Feerick Center for Law and Social Justice. The Crowley expansion will give students the opportunity to engage in a clinic in human rights law, learning under experts in the area. The Feerick Center will give students the opportunity to work under Dean Feerick's invaluable mentorship on some of the most vexing problems affecting our larger society -- school financing and family homelessness among them. We also need space for other programs. As just one example, we have hired a new Assistant Dean to run and expand our international and LL.M. programs. Put simply, our need for space is not theoretical; these programs need space in which to begin operation in the Fall.

This is why the availability of additional space at 33 West 60th comes as welcome relief. As you know, 33 West 60th has housed major law school programs for years. A number of faculty members have offices there. Our Clinic Program occupies the third floor. Dean Feerick and the Crowley Program are both on the second floor. However, we have used up every scrap of space available to us there. We need space for additional faculty, the Clinic Program is bursting at the seams and the Crowley and Feerick Programs are about to launch. The additional space on the 9th floor at 33 West 60th will allow us to address each of these issues.

The needs of the Feerick and Crowley Programs require that we move the Admissions and Financial Aid Offices from the 2nd floor at 33 West 60th. As we go through the inconvenience of moving these offices, we have the opportunity to create an Enrollment Services unit, consisting of the Registrar's Office, the Admissions Office and Financial Aid. Combining these operations will improve efficiency. Each of these offices works on a different time cycle. Thus, the Registrar's Office is extraordinarily busy at times of the year when the Admissions Office and Financial Aid are not as busy. By bringing these offices together and by cross-training staff, we would be able to use our resources to address each office's crunch times more effectively. Our objective here would be simple: we would seek to meet the long-standing, and oft-repeated, request of students and student leaders for better service in these areas.

We have, of course, considered housing the new Enrollment Services Office in the new space at 33 West 60th. Such a plan has significant costs. It would require all 1400 of our students, including evening students with simple questions, to leave the main building and go over to West 60th Street to seek information from the Registrar. It would also make some of the operations of the Registrar's Office -- such as the administration of exams and the provision of direct services to students and faculty -- much more difficult. On the other hand, bringing the Enrollment Services Office into the main building would have significant benefits. All key student services would then be available to students on the garden level. Administrative offices that need to coordinate closely would be located together. For example, the Financial Aid and Registrar's Office need to work closely with the Office of the Dean of Students on the entry of incoming classes, the graduation of outgoing classes and the provision of services to students. That work could be done much more effectively if the offices were near one another. Finally, there are obvious benefits to the school in having the Admissions Office in the main building. That key office originally was moved to the 33 West 60th building with great reluctance and at great cost. Bringing it back into the main building would help us have a more effective way of recruiting potential students and serving admitted students.

This brings us to the point where we consider housing Enrollment Services in the space now occupied by the three journals in the main law school building, and it is against this context that I ask you to view the proposal to move the journals. We are forced to make decisions about space that are less than perfect, but such decisions must be made.

I recognize the benefits of having the journals in the main building. The journals are a hub of student life and have created vibrant communities on the garden level. The creation of community is one of our core values, and I take very seriously anything that might weaken the sense of community. I know that moves are disruptive and that there are short term costs that must be accounted for when considering them. Our experience with 33 West 60th Street shows that it is fully possible to foster community in that building. The Clinic, which is housed on the second floor, is one of the programs that is used most intensively by large numbers of students. It has thrived at West 60th and has thrived to a far greater extent than would have been possible if it had clung to its inadequate space in the main building. Our Crowley and Feerick Programs have similarly thrived there and are about to expand. 33 West 60th Street is part of the law school and is also a hub of student life. Housing the journals there would make that space even more vibrant.

Other urban law schools - ones with far more space than we have - have already decided that journals can be housed in buildings that do not contain the main classrooms. This is the case at the other leading schools in Manhattan, where the law reviews at Columbia and NYU are not in the main building. The Harvard Law Review and the George Washington Law Review are not in the main classroom building either. Even Stanford - which is not an urban campus - is moving one of its journals out of the classroom building.

The experience at other schools makes clear that journals do not need to be in main classroom buildings to thrive. They can be located nearby in other law school space without compromising the quality of their product. Under the plan I am considering, the journals would receive more space and more varied types of space at 33 West 60th Street than they currently have. The space itself is of a higher quality than the journals now have.

We are still working on the question of what hours the West 60th Street building will be open, but the move will only occur if an appropriate arrangement on hours can be set up. The journals are one of the great strengths of the law school, and I would not move them if the move would weaken that strength.

I note that as a community, we have managed to live remarkably well together in seriously inadequate space. I am keenly aware of the relationship between space and community. Our space needs are such that I fear our ability to foster community may be weakened if our activities become much more compressed. For my part, over the past year, I have asked that we scour the space in the Law School to find ways to give our student community a little breathing space. As a result, when students return to school in the Fall, they will find couches and comfortable chairs that will be available for them in the Atrium during times that the space is not being used for events. We will have benches spread throughout the school to give students a place to sit between classes. We will have more couches and chairs available in the cafeteria. We are also undertaking construction to increase classroom space and have gone so far as to remove an old vault from the garden level to create a small room that will give us space for meetings.

The question about 33 West 60th at this point is what makes sense for the community as a whole, weighing costs against benefits. I have asked those of you who will be affected by this proposal to join me in figuring out how to make it work best if it is adopted. I have made similar requests of those who would be affected by other proposals we have been developing and considering. I am grateful to those of you who have made suggestions that would improve a move for the journals. We have already incorporated some of the suggestions into our planning. Such input helps a great deal because it allows me to identify accurately the true institutional costs of adopting each of the alternatives before me. I am committed to making whatever move does come to pass as easy as possible. If we implement the move of the journals, we will work closely with editors and staff to ensure that their work is disrupted as little as humanly possible.

Again, I appreciate and invite your views.

Sincerely,
Dean [T]

3 comments:

CH said...

This insanely long email somehow escaped my inbox. Fishwatch still has a lot of value even if there are only five readers left.

PSDante said...

Have faith; many check out FishWatch, as FishWatch tells it like it is. And what an insanely long email! Anyone spending this much time on something is writing to themselves as much as others.

Anonymous said...

What is this about a "garden level?" Does DT mean the basement?