Today, I was astounded to read that my law school, North Carolina Central University School of Law (NCCU), was found out of compliance with American Bar Association accreditation standards. According to an article in the ABA Journal, the accreditation committee found that NCCU, a historically black university (HBCU), is not in compliance with factors such as academic and admission test credentials, academic attrition and recent graduates’ bar passage rates.
The moment I set foot on the campus of NCCU, I felt at home. The extensive academic curriculum, credentialed faculty, and clinical opportunities made my law school experience invaluable. NCCU provides the opportunity for deserving Blacks to receive the legal education that they otherwise would not be afforded. As explained in the NCCU “Explanation of Transcript”:
We take pride in remaining true to our historic mission and to the principles upon which we were founded. We provide an opportunity for a legal education to one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation. We also provide an opportunity for a select few who, based upon traditional criteria and guidelines, might not otherwise be afforded the opportunity for a legal education but in whom we see great potential. Because our student population includes those in whom we have taken a calculated risk, we must be rigorous in our assessment of our students’ academic achievement and have adopted a policy that critically assesses their skills and knowledge. While this policy results in a high attrition rate for our first-year class, it ensures that students who continue have performed at a level that we have identified as necessary for future success. Students who do not maintain a 2.0 grade point average at the end of their first or second year are academically dismissed.
Melanie Bates is an attorney based in Washington, D.C. She has a passion for criminal justice reform and believes that poverty, lack of education, and other social issues should not feed the pipeline to prison. Through consistent advocacy, she desires to alleviate the factors that force many people to become a part of the criminal justice system. The views expressed here are her own.