January 8, 2021 - Update: We're Here for our Students; Financial Support; Campus Opening Status; and the HOOVER Toy Drive


Dear Southwestern Students,

We hope that the New Year is off to a very nice start for you!  With the spring semester about to begin, we are writing to provide some reminders and share some important information.

We’re Here for You!

As you know, California is, unfortunately, experiencing an unprecedented surge in COVID cases, but the New Year brings us good news with the availability of the COVID vaccines.  As you continue your academic year, we applaud you and urge you to continue to deploy your incredible focus and diligence as well as care for one another.  And please remember that we’re here for you.

Academic.  You’ll soon be receiving all of your grades from the fall semester and Period 5.  What’s really important is to review your final exams/papers and meet with your professors for further guidance on how you can learn from your fall performance.  Take advantage of academic counseling from the Dean of Students Office (deanofstudents@swlaw.edu).  Also, remember that you have other resources to help you learn from your fall performance and propel yourself on a positive trajectory, including Academic Success and Dean’s Fellows (academicsuccess@swlaw.edu) and the Writing Center (writingcenter@swlaw.edu).

We also wanted to let you know that all faculty have been asked by the administration to video and audio record their Zoom classes during the spring 2021 semester and to post the recordings on their Canvas course pages.  We hope that this new change will address internet connectivity issues that occasionally interrupt classes by providing students the opportunity to go back and watch the class recording.  There are exceptions for clinical courses, for selected class sessions in LAWS and experiential courses, and for courses taught by adjunct faculty with professional concerns about recording.  Please note that the availability of the recordings does not in any way affect attendance requirements.  Students are still required to attend class sessions. 

Professional.  The start of the spring semester is also an important and exciting time for making your summer professional plans.  Don’t miss the January 12th Externship Information Session (and the January 22nd summer externship application deadline), as well as Public Interest/Public Sector Career Day recruitment (January 27th deadline).  Extensive summer opportunities are available to you (despite the pandemic and remote work, last summer’s externship enrollment was our biggest ever at 211!), including paid positions and grant opportunities.  Connect with your CSO Advisor, and stay current with the CSO/Externship weekly email as well as the Today at Southwestern announcements and events.

Health.  Importantly, be kind to yourself and take good care of yourself, including your mental health.  Our psychotherapist Dr. Daria Spino remains available to meet with you.  And you can also take advantage of HelpNet (1-800-435-7638).  Both services are confidential and at no cost for several sessions per semester.  You can get the full details about Dr. Spino here and about HelpNet here.

Community.  Our various community activities will continue in the spring semester to bring students together in meaningful and enjoyable ways, including those organized by the SBA, under the phenomenal leadership of SBA President Abraham Bran.  These will include the Safe Space Series as well as a series of activities for Bison Week in February.  Look for details in Today at Southwestern.  Also, as always, Abe Bran welcomes hearing your thoughts and input about activities you’d like to see (abran18@swlaw.edu). 

Financial Support, Scholarships, and More

We are thrilled to announce a significant recent gift by Board of Trustees Co-Vice Chair Lauren Leichtman ’77 and Arthur Levine to support students’ emergency financial needs during the pandemic.  The thoughtful generosity of Ms. Leichtman and Mr. Levine exemplify the spirit of Southwestern alums and supporters who care for Southwestern students in multiple ways.  For details about the fund, please see the announcement in Today at Southwestern, and you can find the application here.

We’re also grateful for the many contributions that supported our Bison Emergency Fund since the onset of the pandemic, including a recent significant contribution by Board of Trustees Chair Charles P. Fairchild ’09.  Through December 2020, the Bison Emergency Fund provided approximately $200,000 support to a large number of students.  In addition, we disbursed to students all of the $500,000 Southwestern received through the CARES Act. 

At this time, we’re waiting to hear when and how much Southwestern will receive from the new stimulus package that Congress recently passed.  We will keep you updated about this information and the anticipated distribution of funds to students.  

Please also keep in mind the multiple scholarships available to you through Southwestern as well as other organizations (e.g., through bar associations, writing competitions).  Keep an eye out for scholarship announcements in Today at Southwestern.  And check Symplicity as well as the weekly CSO/Externship email for writing competition announcements.

As a reminder, once all fall semester grades are finalized, we will be calculating official class rankings, making Dean’s Merit scholarship awards, and determining Wildman/Schumacher entering scholarship retention for all non-SCALE 2L, 3L, and 4L students.  Although these determinations typically happen at the end of the spring semester, last spring, we decided to delay them by one semester in light of the completely unexpected and life-changing onset of the COVID pandemic.  Please find attached a guidance document explaining these changes in detail.  This document was previously circulated to all students after the pandemic began in the spring 2020 semester.

Finally, as always, the Financial Aid Office (financialaid@swlaw.edu) is available to guide you with any financial aid questions you may have.

IT Support – Ready to Troubleshoot and Assist

Our Information Technology department continues the active support of your IT needs, including the following:

  • Directly supporting students’ computers and their connection to the internet. 
  • Establishing a technology equipment loaning program for laptops and MiFi hotspots for connectivity needs.  This program is available to both current students and Bar takers.
  • With respect to network support for students in the Residences, acting as the first step in connection issues ensuring any network issues are resolved quickly.
  • Providing Zoom Pro accounts for student organizations, which ensures students can meet without the 40-minute limit of free Zoom accounts, as well as Zoom support.
  • Providing LogMeIn accounts for students in clinics to be able to remotely access clinic computers.

Campus Reopening – Unfortunately Not Just Yet

Though we’re ready to safely open the campus Library and other spaces, the current governmental orders prevent us from doing so.  Given the COVID situation in California and LA County, unfortunately, we will not be able to reopen the campus in the near future (for example, per LA County officials, the adjusted case rate must be under 10 per 100,000 County residents for university libraries to open, but the County’s current adjusted case rate is at a staggering 66 per 100,000, as of January 5th).  We know many of you are eager to be on campus.  We feel the same and cannot wait to enjoy the hustle and bustle of our lively campus along with you.  But we understand that we must be patient and, importantly, do our part to safeguard our and our communities’ health through wearing masks, social distancing, and following governmental orders and the scientific community’s guidance.

Grateful for the Extensive Participation in LLSA’s Hoover Toy Drive!

The pandemic did not stop the delivery of 625 gifts for each student at Hoover Elementary School.  Many of you supported this tremendous effort, spearheaded by the Latino Law Students Association (the Hoover Toy Drive is 19-years strong!!).  A special thank you to Marcie Canal, Juan Campos, and our Maintenance Team for the delivery efforts to get the gifts to Hoover Elementary, which are awaiting distribution once Hoover Elementary receives the green-light from the school district.

Please let us know if you have questions about any of the above.  Email Vice Deans Anahid Gharakhanian and Dov Waisman at agharakhanian@swlaw.edu and dwaisman@swlaw.edu.  We wish you a wonderful spring semester and a joyful New Year.

~Dean Susan, Vice Dean Dov, and Vice Dean Anahid~