My right to have internet access during class is one that I will defend vigorously. Nothing in my experience here has made me ever believe that this freedom may be under attack until I went to fill out the questionnaire for the Law School Council.
The Law School Council touts this questionnaire as a tool for them to be able to better effectuate positive change on the law school campus. They take credit for various improvements that have been made recently in the academic and social experiences of the students. The e-mail they sent us in order to induce us to fill out their questionnaire claimed that our input would directly affect the changes to be made in the future. This was all good and wonderful until I came across those evil questions hidden amongst all the harmless ones.
“Sure,” I thought as I waded through pages of life altering possibilities such as adding printers and computers in Pound, these are all things that need to be done. Then, somewhere around the technical questions it leapt out at me and left me shaking in my boots. “How often in a week do you find yourself using the Internet during class for non-class purposes?” (I’m paraphrasing here.) The follow-up almost made me lose control of my bowels. “Do you feel that the Internet in class is a distraction?”
Now, I do admit to occasionally using the Internet during class time for purposes other than finding relevant law review articles. However, the sneaky way that the Law School Counsel solicits that information under the guise of helping improve the school is entirely unacceptable. Has the Law School Council become a front for the academic police? Have we moved into an Orwellian world here at the law school where the “pigs” are going to meet and decide what is in our own best interest?
The better question is, does the Internet actually make class less productive? In fact, I truly believe that at this point people are more productive and awake in classes that allow computers than in those that don’t. Last semester’s class participation was miles above what I have experienced so far in our computer-less contracts experience. Now, some of that undoubtedly can be attributed to the end of the first semester, grades coming back, etc. However, it seems that the separation from computers brings out the worst in all of us. Maybe the radiation emanating from those screens is addictive, and our brains wilt without it. Maybe we have all developed erogenous zones at the ends of our fingers that need to be constantly stimulated or else we get itchy. Maybe the computers just distracted enough people who had nothing worth saying so that they didn’t feel the need to share that nothingness with the rest of us.
Even if the Internet made class less productive, there are some professors here who should be thankful that we have it. After all, attendance is definitely higher when students know that they can put in face time and still get productive work done. Take away the Internet and you take away their incentive to show up at all! I am sure that professors would prefer to have bodies in the seats, even if the brains are partially elsewhere, as opposed to having a room full of empty seats to talk to. I would postulate that maybe the attendance drop would be helpful because it would then incentivize those professors to actually teach, but unfortunately tenure would undermine that benefit.
Whatever the theory is, the truth is self evident that man cannot live on pen and paper alone. Class becomes unbearable without computers, time drags and our brains shut down. No one, not even students with a sub-B average, should ever be forcibly subjected to a laptop-less experience. In fact, as soon as I graduate I will ask my firm to allow me to do a pro bono project that would push for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the freedom of Internet in class to all law students. After all, no one should be tortured in such a manner and left to the tiresome world of frequent clock checks and mumbled conversations with your closest seatmates. We don’t pay $30,000 a year to be bored, do we?
DK is a 1L. If he doesn’t get called on at least a couple extra times this week, he’ll know his professors don’t read the Record.