How beauteous mankind is! O brave new worldBut, really, paraphrasing Captain Kirk is a bit more appropriate:
Law: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship A.B.A. Rutgers. Its mission: to join law schools, to seek out new students and new programs, to boldly go where no law school has gone before.As many of my faithful readers know, Rutgers is merging two great brands of law school into one. But did you know why? Let's cue the Captains to explain. To briefly answer questions for those of you who can't be bothered to read:
- They didn't do it to save money. [like anyone would ever admit to that]
- They didn't do it to move up in the rankings, although "[i]f rankings have merit and are measuring the right things, they should go up." [In rankings math, 87 + 102 < 60, at least].
- Sounds like both campuses need a nearly-full faculty. Whew!
- When asked what the actual point was, one administrator cited the now-combined alumni network (which is like the Borg, I suppose) and another stated that they can better serve New Jersey by being a "powerhouse."
But I digress. The coolest part of this article, by far, was when one of the good deans worked in a reference to THE HOLODECK, which will no doubt cost at least $15,000 a year in tuition per student.
Students will be able to take classes on a new "holodeck," identical high-tech classrooms in Newark and Camden with large screens linked via a live video and audio link. The rooms are designed to allow a professor to teach and interact with classes on both campuses simultaneously.As the admiral, I mean administrator, clarifies, the super-high-technology Holodeck really isn't appropriate for first-year classes or standard upper level work because... it's just too cool? It'll be used to get the special expertise at one campus broadcast to the other. So this technology isn't that transformative when it comes to law school efficiency, but, listen, it's really fucking cool. I mean, look at it! It's like the room mysteriously doubles in size. And surely this technology will work flawlessly as Rutgers' students powerhouse their way through the best legal minds at both campuses, forming a Borg-like mass of singular legal knowledge like a unified laser beam of legal expertise shooting from the Law School Death Star. Fuck, wrong franchise.
But, you might say, in this Brave New World, what stops law schools from downsizing the faculty ranks with this technology? Really, why not teach torts and contracts with the awesome power of video conferencing? Well,that would be an abuse of this wondrous technology that would deprive students of the vital experience of having a torts or contracts professor who's physically in the same room with them who also spends 75% of his time writing about Italian manufacturing law and flirting with the administrative staff. Let's not go down that road, okay? That's a scary dirt road with a moonless night sky and wolves howling dangerous obscenities to the wind and jagged tree-branches casting foreboding shadows on the treacherous footpath. . . just don't do it, okay?
With the HOLODECK technology suddenly enabling certain upper level classrooms to be connected across massive distances like the state of New Jersey, the Age of the Law School Merger may not be a bad thing, but in fact an expansionist thing. Sure, people like me who want to put a law school in every Ogdenville get shouted down. But what if, instead of a fully-blown law school, we simply put a HOLODECK station with commensurate tenured faculty at the local community college and allow folks to "network" in to law school classes "online" while paying a tuition premium for the technology? You could call it "distance learning!"
We could set up a whole new generation of satellite campuses, placing them in metro areas desperately needing a law school, like Paducah, Shreveport, and Fort Wayne. With such advances, real operating costs could continue to drop per student while apparent operating costs continue to rise, justifying bloated tuition revenues paid by federal loan monies. That's not a racket, darling, it's the sophisticated employment of technology to generate new synergies and better serve the People.
Because Rutgers is going to get an obvious boost in rankings by merging, no doubt other law schools will use this technology to network together as well, which will only increase their attraction. Hamline and Mitchell will no doubt see a boost, but where can we go next? Whittier and La Verne? South Texas and Texas Southern forming South Texas Southern? John Marshall and John Marshall forming John Marshall? With HOLODECK technology, the possibilities are endless, if not profitless.
How beauteous mankind is, indeed. Far from an Age of Defeat, we are at the dawn of yet another Age of Triumph (it's like the fifth in a row).
Godspeed, A.B.A. Rutgers. Godspeed.