Charlotte School of Law may be close to closing. Enrollment has plummeted. About half the faculty has been laid off. The federal government is withholding millions in loans. And some of the remaining students can’t pay rent or afford food.
Yet school leaders found the time Tuesday night to notify student Jeremy Snyder that he had violated the honor code.
Snyder’s offense: Using a common curse word in a weekend email that strongly urged the school to release overdue details on a financial plan to help students pay their bills.
Cut the B***S*** and finally, actually level with the few students who remain.
Charlotte School of Law student Jeremy Snyder to school leaders
The correspondence, which Snyder shared with the Observer, offers a window into frustration at the beleaguered, for-profit school. In the past three months, Charlotte Law has been placed on probation by the American Bar Association and kicked out of the Department of Education’s student-loan program for chronic problems with admissions, curriculum and bar exam passage rates. Bar and government officials also accuse school President Chidi Ogene and Dean Jay Conison of hiding those problems from current and future students to maintain enrollment.
Every law student seeking entry to the bar must be certified by the law school that the student possesses satisfactory character and fitness. Your actions ... call into question whether you possess that character and fitness.
A school official’s response.
Students have filed at least five lawsuits. Meanwhile, the school’s student commons area has been turned into a food pantry for students who haven’t been able to pay living expenses since the school lost federal money. Late Tuesday, Charlotte Law announced it would offer alternative loans for tuition only.
Over the weekend, Snyder says weeks of frustration with what he described as the school’s absent or evasive communications boiled over.
“Without adequate stipends, many students who have relied (to our detriment) on your ‘updates’ … are not able to pay rent, ongoing bills, schoolbooks, or even cover basic necessities like FOOD,” Snyder said in a Sunday message to Ogene, Conison and others.
“Cut the B***S*** and finally, actually level with the few students who remain.”
Tuesday night, Snyder received an email from a school official, accusing him of violating an honor code requirement to “act professionally, respectfully and with integrity.” The school message described Snyder’s email as “unprofessional and obscene in nature,” and included a veiled threat.
“Every law student seeking entry to the bar must be certified by the law school that the student possesses satisfactory character and fitness,” wrote Branden Nicholson, the school’s director of student engagement. “Your actions, both by the language used in the emails and the subsequent post and comments on social media, call into question whether you possess that character and fitness.”
Nicholson acknowledged that “current events” surrounding the law school might warrant student demands for answers. That said, “a deprivation of professionalism and character is unacceptable.” In closing, he said a copy of the letter would go in Snyder’s permanent file and could be removed later “provided that we do not find further unprofessional conduct on your behalf.”
At 6:17 p.m. Tuesday, Snyder replied. “To Branden (and everyone else offended),” he wrote.
“We find the lack of care for the students’ interests egregiously offensive. … We find the constant stalling and non-informative ‘updates’ offensive.
“… So I guess ‘acting professionally, respectfully and with integrity’ applies only to students but not to the LEADERSHIP at this school? Got it.”
Late Tuesday night, the school issued details of a new financial plan, offering cash-paying students a 20 percent break on tuition this semester. The school also said that the $1,000 emergency loans announced last week were a one-time offer, and that institutional loans would cover tuition only.
Citing student-privacy considerations, a spokeswoman said the school could not comment about the dispute with Snyder.
Snyder, 34, is far from the first student to criticize the school. He acknowledged Wednesday that his Sunday email to school leaders contained “a certain disrespectfulness,” but he said he was simply trying to get answers.
“They have lost all respect in our minds,” said Snyder, who came to the school from Buffalo. “They stall. They stall. They stall. Now students are faced with evictions. They’re ruining their credit because they can’t pay their bills. … All that donated food in the student lounge is heart-warming. But it’s also really, really sad.”
Snyder also said he found it unsettling that school leaders appear to be monitoring what students are posting on social media, adding: “One would think that their time could be better spent fixing the crisis they caused.”
Charlotte School of Law food drive for students
To donate money for food and other living expenses, go to https://www.gofundme.com/csl-students-living-expenses