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Derek C. Bok, dean of the Law School, said last night he is calling a special meeting of the Law faculty within the next 48 hours in response to student demands for changes in the grading system.
A thousand copies of a 16-page report prepared by a group of first-year students were distributed at the Law School yesterday. The report calls for the abolition of grades, evaluation of students' performance throughout the year, and more extensive comment on exams.
"The faculty would be remiss in its duties if it didn't consider the opinion of a group of students who have put real thought to matters important to the Law School," Bok said.
"The meeting will establish procedures for setting up some kind of committee to see what can be done," Bok said. A regular faculty meeting is scheduled for next week, but prompt action is essential for changes to be made in time to affect present first-year students.
Charles R. Nesson, assistant professor of Law, said last night Bok's call for a special faculty meeting should "make clear to students that there will be no hang-ups because of bureaucracy."
Last March, the Harvard Law Review noted student feeling "that the fate of a man's legal career is irrevocably determined during two weeks of June in his first year of law school." Exam grades--changed only last year to letters, replacing a numerical system carried out to decimal points--determine membership in honorary organizations which are crucial to career plans.
The report, prepared in consultation with 150 first-year students, says "the old system has reached the point of diminishing returns...It encourages us to compete, to score points on each other, rather than to communicate and work in cooperation with one another."
Nesson said last night it is conceivable that the faculty could put some of the recommendations into effect before June exams. "I'm sure it won't be complete action, but there has been some similar discussion among the faculty," he said. Any approved curriculum changes would have to be delayed a year since the curriculum is scheduled a year in advance, he added.
Nesson said the memo is "a good lawyer's document, so persuasive an d responsible" the faculty will not react adversely to it. Confrontation politics and name-calling might have created faculty resistance, he added.
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