this morning, after a semester's worth of ego and mania (and sometimes some egomania) our tumultuous experience with evidence culminated in our final exam. this exam left all of us feeling pretty bruised and a bit broken and totally unsure of what to expect when grades are posted.
yet, something ugly has happened; something that i feel warrants some sort of response, yet i'm not sure what the appropriate response should be. i don't mean an official response, either. i mean my own personal response. the situation goes like this:
the evidence final was literally the sloppiest, most carelessly-written test i've ever taken. it was full of typographical errors, full of negligently omitted words, full of nonsense. one of the fact patterns started out by telling us that william was on trial for having murdered his wife, then in one of the questions, we were asked about spousal privileges as it pertained to a phone call he made to his wife while he was in jail. um, wha?
aside from that, the final itself was in a user-unfriendly format -- 100 questions, multiple choice, no opportunity to explain our choices (scantron only -- yuck!), 2 1/2 hours, closed book. we were allowed an un-marked-up copy of the federal rules of evidence, but that was it.
the problem with the federal rules of evidence (actually, this can be said about a lot of the law) is that they're not really meant to be applied in a black-and-white, this-answer-but-not-that-one manner. some of the concepts get pretty abstract and nuanced and a lot of it can get downright frustrating.
added to this is that our professor, the guy from tulane, the guy whom i thought was a jerkbag from day one, didn't really give us much guidance in what to expect from the final, other than to tell us that he didn't expect any of us to finish, that it would graded on a curve, and that he'd be subtracting some fraction of a point for incorrect answers.
and so, after this morning's exam, when approximately 160 2Ls and 3Ls were milling about talking over the test (ALWAYS a bad idea, mind you, unless these chats can be limited to procedural comments, not substantive ones), folks started to decide that the exam was not just a kick-in-the-pants, but that the test was flawed to an extent that made it unfair. and so, being the law students that we all are, folks started to speculate as to how best to resolve the injustice.
meanwhile, i was getting sauced with my friends at fuel and fuddle, at a big table on the downstairs level, right across from a really REALLY lame office holiday party (including the exchange of such forgettable gifts as dry erase markers and candle holders).
later in the day, a friend of mine called me to ask if i had read the e-mail that went out to the whole 2L student list from one of our classmates who volunteered to organize student feedback for the administration regarding concerns people had with the evidence final. i hadn't read the e-mail, not at that point, but now, having read it, i have this to say...
i took that test, too. was it poorly written? yes. was it difficult? absolutely. did i feel that it adequately allowed me to demonstrate my knowledge of evidence? no way. but was it so egregiously deficient and unfair as to warrant intervention by the administration?
um, not a chance.
over the past couple of days, when in the throes of anxiety over not knowing what to expect from my evidence final, i kept reassuring myself that all of us in both sections of evidence were at least in the same boat -- none of us knew what to expect, no one was better prepared than was anyone else, nobody had been given any information to which the rest of us weren't privy.
thus, in the way i look at it, if the test had some inadequacies (and it certainly did) at least all of us who were to be graded on the same curve had experienced the same test and would be held to the same standard.
i.e., what's unfair for all becomes, by definition, fair. because it was equally and uniformly applied.
the evidence final, while a total kick in the teeth (and, for the record, i'm convinced i failed) was NOT patently unfair.
my friend who called me to ask if i had seen the e-mail from our classmate made a really good point, which is that bitching and moaning about the exam before we actually see what the grade distribution looks like is a little premature.
and speaking of immature, i'm a little displeased with how my classmates have decided to respond to a final that they found exceptionally inaccessible. because really, what's the administration going to do? throw out the exams? i'll be goddamned if i'm taking that horrible test again. give us all As? hardly! issue grades as pass/fail? eh, seems like a big ol' mess of arbitrariness and capriciousness...
remember, i'm probably the last one in the class who would rush to defend anything our arrogant prick of a professor did w/r/t the evidence course, but i just can't, in good conscience, say that the final was so grossly erroneous as to warrant the crybaby treatment.
disagree if you will. that's my two cents.