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Charlotte School of Law's food drive brings new meaning to the phrase, "starving students."
The embattled law school is in fact holding a food drive for its own students. Since the Department of Education cut off student funds to the school last month, some students literally cannot afford to buy food.
"How can we be prepared for class when we can't feed ourselves?" said third-year student Margaret Kocaj. "How can we study when we have headaches because we can't afford to eat? This is our reality now. There are no words."
The situation for Charlotte law school is becoming desperate, but it has been going downhill or some time. For years, the law school has been under scrutiny for its low admission standards and poor bar pass rates. The American Bar Association placed Charlotte on probation last year with the possibility of revoking its accreditation, and the Department of Education suspended loans -- about $50 million last year -- for similar academic failings and misleading students.
Before the spring semester opened last week, the failing law school fired two-thirds of it faculty and staff. About half of its students have not returned to class, and some have simply run out of money.
Scott Sigman, director of the school's clinical programs, sent an email to students over the weekend that food is available for those who need it.
"I know that times are uncertain right now," he wrote. "If you are low on funds and in need of food, please take what you need, keeping in mind that others may have needs as well."
The food includes canned and boxed foods, cereal, peanut butter and bread. His email also asked for donations, including baby food because some students have young children at home.
With a bad taste in their mouths, students sued Charlotte last month for deceiving them about the law school's poor performance. Rob Barchiesi is one of the plaintiffs, who say the school hid information from them last year about the problems that have led to its failures in accreditation and funding.
"By remaining open the school has done more harm than good, and the results appear to be starving students who are on the verge of homelessness. It's incredible," he said.
Charlotte is part of a consortium operated by InfiLaw Systems, a for-profit venture that also runs Florida Coastal School of Law and Arizona Summit School of Law. Those schools have also been scrutinized for low admissions and poor performance, while ranking at the bottom in national rankings for law schools based on students' returns on investment.
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