This is the first of five installments of a series exploring the culture and perspectives of self and others within the margins of Ohio Northern University’s (ONU) five colleges: Claude W. Pettit College of Law, James F. Dicke College of Business Administration, Raabe College of Pharmacy, T.J. Smull College of Engineering, and Getty College of Arts and Sciences. This publication investigates the Pettit College of Law students, their identity, and routines, alongside their insight on students belonging to other colleges. 

The academic environment of a university is intended to promote a sense of community and inclusivity, with diverse groups of students brought together to engage with a range of perspectives and experiences. However, this ideal can be challenging to achieve for Claude W. Pettit College of Law students, who are often separated from the rest of the student body due to the unique structures and demands of their academic program. In addition, the perceived disconnect between law students and the other colleges at ONU has long been known but unexplored. 

Throughout this activity, it can be assumed that one of the primary drivers of the disconnect between law students and non-law students is the intense academic demands of law school. Law students must engage with dense legal texts, develop a nuanced understanding of complex legal concepts, and maintain a rigorous study schedule that can leave little time for outside interests or socializing. This intense workload can make it difficult for law students to connect with their non-law peers, who may pursue more diverse academic interests or have more flexible schedules. Furthermore, the fact that law students have already completed undergraduate studies and have likely experienced  separate college in years prior or possibly have a sense of academic superiority can contribute to their indifference towards non-law students.

In addition to academic demands, another factor contributing to the disconnect between law and non-law students is the different career trajectories they pursue. Law students are almost exclusively focused on legal careers, while non-law students often have a more comprehensive range of career paths. This narrow career focus can lead law students to view non-law students as less relevant to their future aspirations, thus creating a sense of disinterest or indifference towards non-law students. Conversely, non-law students may view law students as aloof or unapproachable, leading to a sense of exclusion and isolation within the broader ONU community. However, it does merit exploring the similarities and differences between the Raabe College of Pharmacy and Pettit College of Law since both are considered higher degrees with only one industry path ahead of the respective students.

It is worth noting that the indifference law students exhibit towards other students can have several negative consequences. For non-law students, this can lead to feelings of exclusion and a diminished sense of belonging within the university community. They may perceive law students as unapproachable or invisible, makingwhich can make it difficult for them to establish relationships and connections outside of their own academic circles. This can limit their opportunities for networking and socialization, which can ultimately hinder their overall university experience. 

For law students, the consequences of their indifference towards non-law students can be more insidious. By limiting their engagement with the broader ONU community, law students may missmay be missing out on valuable opportunities for personal growth and development opportunities. They may also be limiting their exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences, which can ultimately impact their effectiveness as legal practitioners. As seen in the interview, these law students struggle to identify known persons belonging to each college, or even name the colleges themselves. Furthermore, their perceived indifference towards non-law students can have broader implications for the legal profession as a whole. It can reinforce stereotypes of lawyers as detached and unapproachable, which can erodinge public trust in the legal system.

In order to bridge the disconnect between law students and non-law students, it is important both groupsfor both groups to engage in proactive efforts to connect with one another. This can take many forms, from participating in shared extracurricular activities to attending university-wide social events, as one can see some attempt to do. Law students can also take steps to be more approachable and inclusive, such as attending events outside of the law school or participating in the upcoming university-wide mentorship programs, “0L Skills Workshop,” between Student Senate and Student BAR Association. Similarly, non-law students can take the initiative to engage with law students, such as by attending law school events or participating in interdisciplinary study groups.

Ultimately, breaking down the disconnect between law students and non-law students requires a concerted effort from both groups. By fostering greater understanding and empathy for one another’s experiences, both law and non-law students can create a more inclusive and connected ONU community. This, in turn, can lead to more positive outcomes for all students, both in their academic pursuits and their broader personal development.

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