Alarming Property Exam!

–From Laura Steel, University of Tennessee College of Law, Date of event: circa 1997

During my first year of law school, we were strewn about the campus for classes while our new law school building was being constructed. This, of course, meant we had to have contact with the undergraduates of the university. Our Property class met in a building that was close (too close, actually) to one of the dorms. The two buildings did not have air conditioning, so the windows had to be open during the spring. Class was from 9:40 to 11:55, and with open windows we could hear the alarm clocks waking up the undergrads. One of the students had his alarm clock set to play Cat Stevens’ “Wild World.” We got a kick of out this the first ten or so times it happened. However, toward the end of the semester, we (including the professor) were very weary of the song.

Construction on the new building was completed before final exams, so we were privileged enough to take our Property final in a swanky new classroom. The final was daunting—multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. About 1 hour into the 3 hour exam, we hear the faint melody of “Wild World” playing. We couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, and the music was gradually getting louder. Finally, one of my classmates realized it was blaring from the credenza in the front of the room, where our professor had placed a clock with a CD player. She had set the alarm to go off during the middle of the exam, then she taped the doors to the credenza shut so that it would take a little effort to get them open. At the time, we didn’t think anything about it was funny. Looking back, I guess it was—I’ve always used that interruption as the excuse for my Property grade!

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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