Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Faculty of Law

So a short word about the law school outside of my office.  In Slovenia, like virtually all of the rest of Europe, law is primarily an undergraduate study and the law school is just another department (or "faculty") of the University, like the Faculty of Sport or the Faculty of Art.  It seems an especially appropriate name for the law school, since the faculty seems to really run the show here.  

Examples?  When I arrived they gave me a key to my office and a key to the "faculty elevator."  I'm on the fourth floor, but elevators are locked and only for faculty use.  I've had two different colleagues remind me about the elevator when they've seen me take the stairs.  "The stairs are for the students."  Silly Americans staying in shape and saving the environment!

Same with the bathrooms on the fourth floor.  Locked and only for faculty.  Students can walk down to the classroom floors to use the bathroom.  

My favorite example is the Dean's office, which is locked to the public and to the students, but opens with a faculty key.  Seriously, when I took the tour I asked what happened if a student needed to talk to the Dean and I was told that they would have to make an appointment and be "buzzed in" through the locked door.  I am definitely going to suggest this to the new dean at the University of Tennessee.  Although I think a wise dean would rather lock out the faculty than the students . . . .  

Everyone on the faculty keeps their doors closed.  The only way to tell if anyone is in their office is if the light is on and you can see it through the frosted glass.  It is so unusual to have your door open that when I met several of my new colleagues they said "Oh, you're the American.  That explains why this door is open."  I even received an email from the Dean's office asking me to consider closing my door in accord with their "security policy."  So far I've stayed a rebel though, an open door policy is my thing.

One reason to close one's door is that it is exam time for the summer session and a bunch of students have oral exams with the faculty, so at points the hallways are filled with nervous looking undergraduates cramming for orals.  Apparently it is super common to have an all oral exam or a mix of written and oral. My office neighbor was explaining that she'll give the students a short written test and then at an appointed time she'll have the student in her office and she'll grade the written exam right in front of the student and then ask some follow up questions to ensure that the student actually understood the material.  She said it takes about 30-40 minutes per student.  When I noted that this sounded like a lot of work and time she responded that it only took all day everyday for several weeks. Ouch!  Here's a photo of a bunch of closed doors and some sad students getting ready for their oral exams.

The law school has a lovely espresso bar and a small cafeteria.  In both places there is a clearly demarcated table and seats for faculty only.  The tables in the commissary are actually blocked off from the students with a really hilarious bamboo wall.  (It's tiki night every day at the faculty of law!).  

The espresso bar is a great innovation:

Alright, back to work.  But first maybe a latte.


  1. Hmmm...I may have to send you a rebel flag.

  2. Start out with: Confused in the Berkshires! Is the division between faculty and Student, a fear of student attacks; or a power move on the part of the faculty; or a claimed exclusivity for the faculty. Gee Whiz Golly...America would never go for this. Don't much like, however, that they refer to you as The American (sort of like the Marlboro Man). AND speaking of "lots of work...every day all day for several weeks"...now we are Downright UnAmerican. Yah! Yah! we do love students but not THAT much!) Shut your door, Ben; you will live longer Love: Yur Mum.

  3. I agree with your mum. 100%. Also I don't totally hate the espresso bar bamboo wall divider. I'm sure it adds a bit of feng shui. Besides.... The faculty has to feel comfortable talking trash about those awful oral exams. They totally can't relax and do that with students all up in their grills drinking coffee.

  4. HAH! This sounds remarkably like the atmosphere at the law department in Prague, when I went there to do my short study-abroad program. It's good to be the king! ;)