Administrators address concerns at Town Hall meeting
By Jenna Box
On April 9, the John Marshall Bar Association hosted UF Law’s latest Town Hall Meeting with four UF Law deans. Historically these meetings have led to updates like the study lounge and more swipe card entries.
Dean Robert Jerry; Alyson Flournoy, senior associate dean for academic affairs; Rachel Inman, associate dean for students; and Deb Staats, associate dean for administrative and fiscal affairs, listened and addressed concerns from students on various topics.
“It’s been really encouraging to see the administration is really taking our suggestions, our wishes and our needs into consideration,” said a JMBA representative who introduced the panel. “They’ve really done a lot to help us as a student body going forward.”
Discussion highlights included:
New water fountains, waterless urinals, better cleanliness and an increased number microwaves in the cafeteria were among suggestions and topics of question.
Staats urged students to snap photos of cleanliness issues when spotted. She said these could be used by the custodial team to target problem areas. She also encouraged students to take advantage of the two new microwaves in the cafeteria that will soon arrive and the cleaning products — such as Sani-wipes — that will be nearby.
Students expressed concern about library hours during football games and exam week. Currently, the library is closed during home football games.
Jerry empathized with students on this issue and said that options to make sports-infused weekends more study-friendly would be pursued, but he said that tailgating near the law school on game days poses a risk to the interior of the building if it were to be open, based on recent experiences with the restrooms that have been open on game days.
Students also requested later hours for a longer period near exam weeks and in general.
According to figures recorded by the library during past extended hours, on average only up to 10 people were in the library at the 4 a.m. hour, and about 20 during the 2 a.m. hour, said Claire M. Germain, associate dean for legal information. She also noted that staffing the library during these hours posed a problem.
For those who prefer to study late, space is currently available via swipe entry in Bruton-Geer Hall, Jerry said, and the possibility of extra classroom space will also be considered.
The planned extended hours — 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. — for the library began April 12, and will continue through May 2.
Curriculum and Registration
Regarding recent registration concerns, the course schedule is currently available in an Excel spreadsheet and in a PDF on the website, Flournoy said.
Flournoy also mentioned the possibility of online career guides that would list courses available to students who want to pursue a specific legal path, such as construction real estate law or sports law. Oftentimes, classes that benefit a certain type of law study aren’t necessarily labeled in a way that makes it obvious, she said.
The valuable Pretrial Practice class will be evaluated to decide if it should be expanded to a four-credit course, as students had suggested, or whether the topic warranted more than one course.
Finally, where students identify class conflicts involving a registration priority course, she advised checking both fall and spring schedules during registration. The schedules have been designed to include multiple sections of these classes.
Currently, law firms are not allowed as externships at UF Law. Jerry called this rule “a relic of the past,” even though, he said, a majority of law schools currently have the same rule as UF.
Because the externship has become a stepping stone to the job market, this is something the administration and faculty will need to look at to provide opportunities to connect new forms of skills training with the private sector, Dean Jerry said.
All input is appreciated by the administration, and students are encouraged to pass along further questions or concerns to the JMBA office.