Law school students and administrators weigh in on campus involvement

The St. John’s School of Law shares the Queens campus with the University’s other graduate and undergraduate programs, but students and administrators have differing views on how connected the law school is with the rest of campus.

“St. John’s has made a great effort in encouraging campus participation amongst all students,” said Dr. Julia Upton, University Provost. “But, new programs geared towards undergrads who want to pursue a career in law may engage law school student’s interests.

“To encourage more participation between law school students and the University, the law school’s Student Board Association and St. John’s Student Government may have to work together. St. John’s is always implementing new programs and activities to engage its students, but law school students especially, are just very busy people.”

Many law school students said they felt the law school is a separate entity from the rest of the University.

“I feel like the University and law school operate on two different wavelengths,” said first-year law student Jay Louis.

Andrew Saintanasse, another first-year law school student, said he does not feel the University puts forth enough effort to keep law students involved.

“I think there is an obvious disconnect between the law school and the University,” he said. “I would recommend holding structured events between undergrads considering law school and law school students, or structuring a mentor/mentee program geared towards students considering law school.”

Other students seemed apathetic to events on campus and felt that law students have good reason to not be too involved with the rest of campus.

“Law school is demanding,” said Basille Vasiltarjcdski. “Between readings, internships, and networking events, I honestly don’t have the time. I also commute to school which limits my time on campus.”

There are a number of differences between the law school and the rest of the University in terms of scheduling. For example, the 2009 Spring Semester began on January 10 for St. John’s School of Law, while the semester commenced on January 21 for all other programs. Spring break for law school students was in February while all other programs had their break in March. The last day of classes, dates for final examinations, and commencement are also different.

Dr. Upton said that “there are factors that contribute to the differences between the academic calendars of the law school and undergraduate programs.” The undergraduate and graduate programs, she said, are governed by New York State, while the law school program is regulated by the American Bar Association. According to Upton, each program needs to satisfy certain hour requirements.

But administrators seem intent on making sure the law school feels involved and connected with the rest of campus.

“The law school is most certainly part of the University,” said Andrew Simons, Acting Dean of St. John’s law school. “We take advantage of the many attributes of the University like the gym, church, and counseling center. There are also a lot of collaborative programs between the law school and the University. For example, our joint degree programs like the B.A. /B.S. /M.B.A and J.D. Degree are in conjunction with the various schools of the University.”

The J.D/M.B.A joint degree program is offered between St. John’s Tobin College of Business and the School of Law. St. John’s Web site explains, “During each of the semesters of the second and third years in the School of Law, students complete a minimum of three credits toward the M.B.A. degree. Also, during each of the summers following the first and second years of enrollment in the School of Law, students complete nine credits toward the M.B.A. degree.”

Dean Simons also said the law school sponsors many events throughout the year that attracts St. John’s undergraduate students to the law school.

“A recent example is the Vets ad Pets Charity 5K Walk,” said Dean Simon. “In conjunction with the Armed Forces Society and Animal Law Society, St. John’s walked to raise funds for our military personnel and to provide safe havens for homeless animals. You should have been in the law school’s cafeteria; there were pets everywhere, and I also met a lot of St. John’s students outside the law school.”