In a parallel universe


IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE, THE 1Ls DIDN’T GET THEIR grades online Tuesday. In that universe, the online system failed, and it was all just a big administration trick. Imagine, for the next 800 words, that you live in that parallel universe.

So, in this parallel universe, stop whatever you’re doing. Listen to this. We’re being hoodwinked. Tricked. Manipulated. Read Dean Kagan’s e-mail again. The one about the grades. “…the Registrar’s office has devised a system to allow students to obtain their grades on-line.” See anything about a computer? I don’t. The Internet? No mention. Folks, here’s the real truth, as far as I can tell: when grades come out, because in this parallel universe, they haven’t yet, we’re all going to be waiting on one big long line outside the Registrar’s office. That’s what on-line means to these people. On a line. A long, slow line.

Manned by proctors.

After all, it’s months until the next exam period and these people have to feed their families and pay for their blood pressure medication. They can’t afford to have us getting our grades through the network – the same network, I remind you, that has spent the past two weeks unable to keep out an e-mail virus.

At least if we do get grades on-line, if we ever do, we can rest assured that the system security will match the security of the add-drop process. I walked into Pound last Friday to drop Prof. Hay’s Secret Agent seminar – I’m kidding; I was actually 912th on the wait list for that – I walked into Pound to drop my Oral Tradition in the Law Reading Group (too many books), filled out the form, handed it to the great-grandfatherly proctor sitting at the table, reading a book called “Prostate Health and You,” and he glanced at it and put it in a box. “Do you need to see my ID?” “No.” “Do I have to sign anything?” “No.” “So I could just come in here and drop someone else’s classes for them without anyone ever finding out until it’s too late?” “I’m sorry, it’s time for my nap.” “Okay.” And then I left.

And put on a fake mustache, returned, and secretly dropped all of my least-favorite law school acquaintances out of all of their classes so they never get their diplomas, but it won’t matter because they already have jobs and no one will ever check. The havoc I have wrought! The power! The power that will be gone if we ever move to on-line course selection! Which of course we won’t, since fifteen minutes after our grades are made available on-line – once again, recall we’re in a parallel universe here – the system is going to crash, all of the grades will be lost, the registrar’s office will realize they have already shredded the hard copies, and we will all have to take our exams over again. All because of on-line grades. See what you have done, greedy students who demanded an on-line grading system? Are you happy with yourselves? Oh, the humanity!

Look, I know the 1Ls got their grades this week. And it all worked fine, and ruined the relevance of my column. Hence the parallel universe gimmick. I didn’t think they’d actually pull it off. I thought we’d be waiting seven and a half years for our online grades, until all the other law schools were delivering grades by text message to people’s cell phones, or just beaming them into people’s brains through infrared fiber optic gamma waves (can you tell I just added “Communications Law” to my schedule?), and we’d be laughed at as that poor school that just started delivering grades on that Internet thing that’s so old-school.

But we’d still have an ice rink. Except that everyone else would be ice skating on Mars, which, thanks to the efforts of President Jeb Bush, we would have colonized for the sole purpose of ice skating and trash disposal. Other law schools would be magically transporting their students to Mars using cellular reformation technology, just to go ice skating, and we’d still be using the rink in Jarvis Field, right next to the beautiful Gropius dorms, anchored to the ground when other law schools have housing that hovers in the air, defying gravity but including free cable television and toasters built right into the walls. For toast. I don’t know why. But what else can they really build into the walls?

They’d be laughing at us. Us and our non-genetically-modified brains with our non-genetically-modified food in the Hark would have fallen to 137th in the U.S. News rankings because of the low genetic modification score, the paltry ice rink ranking, and the pathetic infrared gamma wave grade-beaming point total. Even Thomas Cooley Law School and its virtual reality library catalog would be putting us to shame.

But we do have on-line grades. At least the 1Ls do. For now. In this universe. It’s a step in the right direction. Perhaps one day we’ll have online registration too. And then, in a parallel universe, I can write a column about it.

Jeremy Blachman’s column appears weekly. He also posts regular commentary in a parallel universe at

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