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SUNY-Buffalo Law administrator threatens students with character & fitness complaints

By J. DeVoy

In a recent e-mail sent to graduating 3Ls at SUNY-Buffalo Law School, the school’s administration alluded to filing character and fitness complaints against students who are savvy with their graduation tickets. (Emphasis and editor’s notes added.)

From: “Saran, Melinda”
To: [UB3L]
Sent: Thu 02/25/10  9:56 AM
Subject: Fwd: Commencement cap & gown order deadline is March 2nd!

This message is being sent to all 3L and LLM students

Caps & Gowns

   The deadline for ordering you [sic] tam, gown and hood (for rental) is next Wednesday, March 3, 2010.  Orders are taken at the University Bookstore.  The Bookstore will not guarantee tam hats on any orders after March 2nd.   You may pickup [sic] your caps and gowns beginning on April 20th.


   Commencement tickets will be limited to six (6) tickets per graduating student. With the number of tickets and the gradates [sic], we fill the Mainstage Theater.  NO EXTRA TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE!!!

   If you need more than six tickets you can also ask other students who are not attending or do not need all seven tickets.  We will not have a wait list or any extra tickers.  No ‘scalping’ or counterfeit tickets will be allowed.  Such behavior will be reportable to the Character and Fitness committee.

   Tickets will not be distributed until April.  Each graduating student will have an envelopewith [sic] her or his tickets inside.  We will let you know when the tickets have arrived and are ready for distribution.

A tacit threat by a velvet-gloved iron fist?  Note the e-mail’s Reaganesque use of passive voice about “reportable” behavior.

Sanctions for counterfeiting tickets are understandable, as it’s obviously deceitful conduct.  Rolling it in with scalping, though, becomes more problematic.  New York state law specifically allows the resale of tickets for whatever value the market will bear.  Ironically, in one of the few arenas where New York promotes a free market, the state’s lone public law school wants to inhibit it.

Times are hard for law students everywhere.  Here, though, the law school that has taken students’ money for three years is threatening to subterfuge their careers for engaging in a legal activity.  As if the legal market and broader economy of upstate New York isn’t bad enough, graduating UB 3Ls have the pendulum of a character and fitness complaint swinging above them for trying to monetize a valuable commodity — lawfully!

One would hope that students are civil with one another regarding something as important as graduation tickets.  But, considering how current 3Ls are wont to fight like sharks over the skeletal whale carcass of economic opportunity, anything is possible.  Nevertheless, this punishment does not fit the crime; it’s unseemly for a school to threaten its own students’ careers like this.

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