Town Hall Meeting addresses important issues for UF Law students

Published: November 28th, 2011

Category: News, Students

Curriculum reform, hot food and comfortable study areas were a few of the main topics addressed in this semester’s Town Hall Meeting last week, hosted by UF Law’s John Marshall Bar Association.

The meeting, which has been held each semester since fall 2009, is intended to allow UF Law administrators and students to have direct communication while addressing student concerns, raising new questions and fostering a healthy and productive discussion about how to improve the law school.

The panel consisted of Dean Robert Jerry, Associate Dean for Student Affairs Rachel Inman, Associate Dean for Administrative and Fiscal Affairs Debra Staats and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Alyson Flournoy.

Jerry began the meeting by addressing the changing world of legal education and looking at what UF Law is doing to keep up with those changes.

“We have, for about two years now, been working on curriculum reforms here at the law school and in the fall of ’12, the 1Ls will have some changes to the curriculum,” Jerry said.

He pointed out that UF Law has already been a leader in legal skills with the mandatory legal drafting class for second-year students.

He also discussed the difficult job market and pointed out that the Center for Career Development has a new assistant dean — Pascale Bishop — and the staff and program have been completely revamped.

“We are working hard to try to ramp up our support for you in that job search and I hope you will take advantage of the services we offer,” Jerry said.

Next, Inman relayed the results of a survey regarding new food options in the cafeteria. She said 440 students and 99 faculty and staff members participated in the Survey Monkey survey.

The results showed that 86.8 percent of participating students chose Wednesday as their top day to have an alternate food option available at the law school; the second choice was Tuesday. For faculty and staff, the top choice was Tuesday and the second choice was Monday. The top pick by students for food was Pollo Tropical — followed by Subway — while faculty and staff chose Chili’s, also followed by Subway.

“When you return the week of Jan. 7, as the survey mentioned, our goal is to have an online ordering process,” Inman said. “You can order and pay online … that day, and then the food will be delivered at a specific time and you will come to a particular place and pick it up.”

Inman said the new system will be tried out at the beginning of the semester, then send out another survey to see how it can be improved or refined. All current food options in the cafeteria will still be available.

Staats and Flournoy addressed facilities and curriculum questions, respectively.

Staats said the administration is looking into adding a card-swipe option to the second-floor entrance to Bruton-Geer Hall since it is used more frequently by students now that the lockers are there. The process has been cost-prohibitive in the past because the door is a non-standard size and the glass would have to be replaced, but she will look into it again.

She said another popular question brought up by students is whether they could get an additional electric outlet in the cubby desks in the library. Staats said it is not possible because the building is “already maxed out as far as the amount of electricity we have going in it.”

In response to curricular questions, Flournoy said the strategic planning committee is “just beginning to look at skills in the upper level.” She also said the school’s grading curve policy will be clarified on the website in the future.

Finally, Jerry addressed distracting noise and overcrowding in the library.

“The bottom line is we absolutely want you to have a comfortable space to do your studies all the time the library is available and we’re trying to make sure it’s available at times when you need it,” he said.

UF Law students and Elizabeth Outler, associate director of the Legal Information Center, also got involved in the conversation.

Several students complained that much of the noise and overcrowding in the library is a result of undergraduate students who come to the law library to study.

Jerry said access to the law library cannot be restricted, but measures were discussed on how to minimize distractions and overcrowding.

The meeting closed with a round of questions from students. Topics addressed included the possibility of extending the reading period at the end of the semester, scheduling conflicts in class offerings and criteria for admitting transfer students.