Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

More about our new on-line grades system. I have a theory. We're being hoodwinked. Tricked. Manipulated. I read the Dean's e-mail again. "…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. Here's the real truth, as far as I can tell: when grades come out, I'm 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 that has spent the past two weeks unable to keep out an e-mail virus.

At least if we do get grades on-line, here at Harvard can rest assured that the system security will match the security of the add-drop process. I walked into the secret add-drop location (signs up all over the building) on Friday 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, 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 everyone here will have to take our exams over again. All because of on-line grades. See what they have done, these greedy students who demanded an on-line grading system? Are they happy with themselves? Oh, the humanity!

Also, the e-mail didn't say when we're getting these mysterious on-line grades. Yes, 1Ls -- they can have your fall term grades... next fall. And the 2Ls and 3Ls can log-on and get our winter-term grades in about seven and a half years, when all the other law schools will be 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'll be laughed at as that poor school that just started delivering grades on that Internet thing that's so old-school.

But we'll still have an ice rink. Except that everyone else will be ice skating on Mars, which, thanks to the efforts of President Jeb Bush, we will have colonized for the sole purpose of ice skating and trash disposal. Other law schools will be magically transporting their students to Mars using cellular reformation technology, just to go ice skating, and we'll still be using the ice rink next to our beautiful 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'll be laughing at us. Us and our non-genetically-enhanced brains with our non-genetically-enhanced food in the cafeteria will fall to 137th in the U.S. News rankings because of the low genetic enhancement 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 will be putting us to shame.

But we have on-line grades. Or at least the promise of them. It's a step in the right direction. Perhaps one day we'll have online registration too. Nah, that'll never happen.

*absurdly astute readers will recall a mention last week that I bought the DVD set of the Ben Stiller Show. These same astute readers, who have listened to the commentary tracks, will realize that I have "borrowed" this on-line/on line joke from Mr. Stiller, who, on the commentary to the DVD, talks about meeting one of the writers on line in 1990 -- when on line meant on a line, since there was no Internet. Just giving credit where credit is due. In a footnote.