October 6, 2004

Letter to the Editor

Legal Reasoning lockout

As a transfer student from Stanford University, I can offer one perspective on the issue of the over-enrolled Legal Reasoning course that the article missed ("Law class proves guilty of being over-enrolled," 10/1/04). Even though I am a second-year and have official standing as one, I was absolutely barred from enrolling in Legal Reasoning (LLSO 24200) this quarter. Unlike returning students, I could only begin registering for classes during O-Week, and so could not participate in, nor was even aware of, the bidding period last spring. To put it simply, from the time I applied to the time I arrived on campus two weeks ago, I was never eligible to take Legal Reasoning or major in Law, Letters, and Society (LLSO)—all of which was unknown to me until a week ago. I think it's something I deserved to be informed of explicitly before I decided to transfer. As it is for many others, LLSO was one of the main reasons I decided to come to the University of Chicago and leave Stanford. This catastrophic turn of events has made me reconsider that decision, if not regret it altogether. Unfortunately, I must add that I am not the only transfer student who arrived on campus this year harboring dreams of majoring in LLSO and engaging in this uniquely U of C opportunity. Those with similarly crushed hopes—both transfers and returning students—should know that I share your confusion, pain, and rightful anger.

Despite the harm already done, I think there is still a chance to remedy the situation. Given the several mistakes and oversights on the part of the administration, it would be very appropriate to offer the class again this winter, or to allow third-years to take it next year. For second-years looking to major in LLSO, which is the bigger and more important issue, I am sure there are several ways of accommodating us into the program, such as allowing the course to be taken at a later time or substituting this requirement with some suitable alternative (another course or sequence of courses). I never expected to encounter such problems at the U of C. Students being randomly dismissed from courses for which they are registered and majors being closed arbitrarily are not the hallmarks of a top echelon institution. I am sure that such an incident would never have occurred at Stanford or other peer institutions. If Chicago truly wants to be regarded as a world-class school, it should begin by treating its students in a world-class manner—by admitting its mistakes and working to fix them for the students.

Niraj Sheth

Second-year in the College