By: Alize Rosado
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Niagara University has prided itself on having an outstanding law program with faculty and courses that have helped students get into Ivy League schools. Their program has even been lauded by schools such as University at Buffalo because of its uniqueness. However, recent changes within the law department has led to many students feeling frustrated and uncertain about their future.
Last semester Dr. Peter Baxter, head of the law department, went on paid leave and since then the entire program has seemed to halt. Two days before classes started, students who were enrolled in classes previously taught by Baxter were informed via email that those courses would no longer be offered. This resulted in many students falling to part-time enrollment two days before classes started and struggling to find an alternate class.
With registration being right around the corner many of the pre-law students have noticed that courses that assist in completing the pre-law minor are not being offered. This has resulted in multiple students having to drop their pre-law minor right before graduation. This situation also affects sociology, criminal justice, business and hospitality students who have all been taking law courses throughout the years.
The main reasoning for these issues stems from the fact that Baxter is no longer teaching those classes.
“The law program is pretty much non-existent – he was the law program,” said Makayla Kanavy, a senior pre-law minor. Besides teaching the obvious required courses, some students felt that Baxter went above and beyond to help students. He provided guidance for students with their respective career paths and wrote countless letters of recommendation.
“The relationship I needed for a letter of recommendation is gone,” said Lauren Austin, a senior pre-law minor. “This is hindering my applications and I’m nervous it will affect my acceptance.” So what is exactly is NU doing to resolve these issues? Dr. Michael Cassidy was hired to be the temporary replacement to advise the pre-law program.
“Students’ main concerns are that we have advisors, but none of that matters if we don’t have classes,” said Morgan Palmer, co-president of the Pre-Law association. The Dean of the College and Arts Science, Dr. Peter Butera did meet with pre-law students to address any concerns they had in an open-forum setting.
“He’s very open and receptive to students and their needs,” said Palmer. Butera has said that he’s been meeting with higher-ups to find a solution to this problem. These solutions are just temporary though, and NU students still feel as if they’re in the dark with no answers.