IN THE AUCKLAND UNIVERSITY COURT
I TE KŌTI MATUA O WAIPAPA TAUMATA RAU
 CRHC 1927
UNDER the Law School on Trial Series 2023
IN THE MATTER of the STUDENTS
AND the SYSTEM
Hearing: 31 July 2023
Appearances: Craccum Magazine, Torts 2023
JUDGMENT OF NEWS J
CASE STUDY 2 – TORTS (LAW 231) 2023
 LAW 231, as highlighted in Case Study 1, is a full-year course at the Law School, totalling 30 points of a 480-point undergraduate degree. The course is one of four major courses required to complete part II of the LLB and is predicated on passing or failing the course at the end of the year. As such, its completion rests with higher stakes.
 The applicants are current students enrolled in LAW 231, who attended a stream of lectures in Semester 1 taught by Professor Jo Manning, who alongside the wider Law Faculty, forms the case for the respondents.
 In Semester 1, several of the applicants reached out to both their class representatives and Professor Manning, claiming that the lectures lacked structure, requesting clarity around lecture topics and weekly expectations. The applicants asserted that the lectures were extraordinarily difficult to follow, and that they were frequently read verbatim from the course textbook, which is already assigned as individual reading. In response to this applicant email, Professor Manning sent one of her own to explain her teaching methods. The section of the email at the heart of this trial reads:
- You are asking to be spoon-fed. It strikes me that you haven’t made the transition in terms of expectations from high school to university. This is university, not high school, and there is quite a bit of student self-directed learning expected.
 This section of the email prompted concern among the applicants of inequitable teaching practices. Notably, the class representatives of the paper were quick to come to the defence of the respondent, entering the Facebook Messenger chat for the course to stand by Professor Manning and use the word “spoon-fed” again in conversation with their peers. The jury should briefly note that the class representatives have been accused by the applicants of failing to represent the views of the entire cohort, and it is alleged further issues at play may have prompted the response of the class representatives. These allegations have not been evidenced to the court.
The Case for the Applicants
 The applicants assert that Professor Manning’s general teaching was inequitable, and reflective of a larger issue in the Auckland Law School—a long fought unwillingness to ensure that all courses are accessible to all students, particularly those with disabilities. The applicants cite that as of May 2022, 8% of University students disclosed a disability (a number which is likely to be higher), yet the Law School continuously lacks both mana and fair communications in its approach to students with disabilities. The applicants comment that Manning’s conduct isolated is unreasonable, but in culmination with broader equity issues, is a failure.
 The court notes, upon looking at expected equity conduct required by the Law School, that The University’s Disability Action Plan is currently in the process of adopting the UDOIT tool on Canvas, which sets out a minimum standard of structure and accessibility for every course offered in every faculty. A baseline of equity in communications will soon be expected to apply to every course offered by the Law School. Further, the University’s website reveals that students experiencing disabilities may choose to disclose these to lecturers to “prevent or reduce barriers [to learning]” so that “support may be put in place”.
 The applicants highlight that emails like those sent by Manning, whether intended to or not, could be seen as degrading students with learning disabilities who need structure to best learn. One applicant comments, “I identify as able-bodied, and my notes from the lectures are desolate. Rather than walking next to the lecturer, it feels like we’re running behind them, always trying to catch up. I can’t imagine how much more difficult this is for students who identify as disabled.”
 Another applicant provides an affidavit that they, “found Jo’s implication that students who wanted a clearer picture of the course structure as wanting to be ‘spoonfed’ uniquely ableist and demeaning. It specifically resonated with a lot of neurodiverse students because we are already facing additional struggles compared to our neurotypical peers. All we want is to be given the opportunity to have the same chances and opportunities to succeed as the students who don’t have to face the difficulties that we do, and to imply that wanting clearer structure and instruction is wanting to be ‘spoonfed’ implied that our needs resulted in our spaces in the law school being considered less valuable.”
 The applicants also note that this issue is not exclusive to disabled students. One applicant comments that the email made them feel, “immature and unintelligent.” Another adds, “It’s also concerning that most of us are in third year. So we’ve done the first several law papers, we’ve passed through the high GPA boundary [a 6.5 requirement]. The majority of people are clearly willing to put in the effort, otherwise they would have already failed out. So it’s very invalidating to hear, ‘we’re not going to spoon-feed you’.”
 The applicants argue, in short, that refusing to utilise structure will harm many students, but have a disproportionate impact on students with disabilities. By allowing what they describe as “archaic” and “draconian” teaching practices to persist, they ask members of the jury if they might draw the belief that the Law School, by implication, is failing to rise to its equity requirements.
The Case for the Respondents
 The Craccum team reached out to Professor Manning for comment. Herein lies the unedited testimony.
Witness for the Respondents: Professor Manning
 On the subject of  It is incorrect to say I read ‘verbatim’ from the textbook. The course is an introduction to Tort Law. Given the course textbook is also an introduction to tort law it is inevitable that the lectures cover some of the material in the textbook. On a few occasions textbook reading was deliberately drawn on in order to help students contextualise the course material.
 In response to [3a] The quotation you cite from my response to the student has been taken out of context from a much longer email in which I outlined that different teachers have different approaches which depend both on the teacher and the subject matter of the course. What I was trying to get across was that learning is a collaborative process between lecturer and student and that in a course of this sort it is very important for students to engage in the primary materials of the cases and statutes that make up the law, and that they take responsibility for the self-directed learning required. These are vital skills in legal practice, and I teach this way because I am committed to students doing well in their degree and as lawyers or whatever other profession they may follow.
 I am disappointed if any student found the course difficult to follow, however different students have different learning styles. In addition to the feedback from this particular student, I have also received positive comments from others about the teaching of this Tort Law course. I am always happy to help any student who reaches out to me about any course that I teach, and I am always keen to ensure that students on my courses have a good experience. I will, as always, reflect on how well the course has gone at the end of the year as I engage with the SET evaluations.
 Finally in response to an accusation not furthered, it is also incorrect to say the assessment in the class was on content not yet taught in class. It was taught by tutors in tutorials, reinforcing class concepts.
 Based on the evidence provided, the jury is directed to give a verdict as to whether the faculty response to diverse student equity concerns, is procedurally and substantively unjust.
Next Hearing Set: Monday, 14 August, in Issue #17.