Harvard Law School students, carrying signs reading "Only Dogs Bark On Command" and occupying the dean's office and a faculty corridor, have w0066 ----- r a BC-05/08/83-HRVARD 05-08 0001 Harvard Law Protesters Told Rule on Grades May Be Reviewed By Ruth Marcus Special to The Washington Post
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 7--Harvard Law School students, carrying signs reading "Only Dogs Bark On Command" and occupying the dean's office and a faculty corridor, have been told by their dean that a controversial new policy permitting professors to grade them on class participation may be reconsidered at a special faculty meeting Monday.
A four-hour sit-in Friday by about 150 students ended two days of protests against the new rule, which reverses the current policy of anonymous grading.
Students complained that letting professors take participation into account when handing out grades will make the law school's legendary competitive atmosphere even more tense and will work against women, minorities and those with more radical political views.
The new policy was approved at a faculty meeting Wednesday, to the surprise of students, most of whom had never heard about a possible change. Adding to the students' opposition was their exclusion from such a key decision: grades determine who makes the prestigious Harvard Law Review and who gets the most sought-after jobs and judicial clerkships.
About 700 of the 1,600 students at the law school signed petitions opposing the change, and 500 students attended demonstrations Thursday and Friday.
Associate Dean Lance Liebman said the proposal had been motivated by the view that "one thing wrong with this law school is the reliance on one big exam at the end of the course--that there are many students here for whom the exam is not a good and complete reflection of their work."
But Law School Dean James Vorenberg, acknowledging that the faculty may not adequately have considered the depth of student feeling on the matter, offered to hold a meeting Monday of the school's legal education committee. Professor Alan Dershowitz, who abstained from voting on the original proposal, said that he would introduce a motion to reconsider the change at the next faculty meeting on May 18.
The protesters demanded a faculty meeting next week, however, saying that students will be swamped by exams after that.
The students stressed that they were not opposed to speaking in class, but only to forced and graded participation.
"People learn best in democratic rather than authoritarian atmospheres," said Irma Tyler-Wood, a second-year student.
Friday's demonstration and sit-in is the latest in a series of incidents that have divided students and faculty at the law school this year. Students protesting the lack of minority and women faculty members boycotted a civil rights course taught by a visiting white professor, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund director-counsel head Jack Greenberg.
Last month, an attempt by a number of students and faculty members to institute a so-called "no-hassle pass," under which students called upon in class would be able to refrain from answering without fear of being chastised by the professor, was resoundingly defeated. The new policy requiring class participation was adopted instead.
Meanwhile, protest leader Stephanie Pollack warned that students will organize concerted refusals to take part in classes if the rule is not rescinded.
"If they insist on implementing it," she said, "we'll make sure they can't."