Letters

BY

King Clark: End of the reign?

In last week’s RECORD, six professors rushed to the defense of Dean Clark, accusing Arkadi Gerney, 3L, of mischaracterizing evidence and making “unfair” accusations in his call for a change of leadership. While I agree that calling for a new dean may seem extreme, history indicates that the time may have come to do so.

During the last decade of Dean Griswold’s astounding 22 year reign (from 1946 to 1967), there was a growing sense that HLS had stagnated and was in need of fresh ideas. Since then, deans have abided by an unwritten rule of ten year terms. Bok held the crown for only four years (’68-’71), Sacks for ten years (’71-’81) and Vorenberg for eight years (’81-’89). Clark has now been king for 12. Not surprisingly (and not only because of our drop in the U.S. News rankings) there is a growing sense among students, faculty and alumni that HLS is again stagnating.

So the time has come to analyze king Dean Clark’s record, ask for an articulation of his agenda and hear competing visions for the future of HLS. For this reason I would like to respond to the six professors’ recent defense of Clark. Perhaps most surprising (and mildly misleading) is their support for his handling of three significant issues: women on the faculty, grade reform and the public interest.

HLS has fewer women as a percentage of its tenure or tenure-track faculty than any of our peer schools. Just 16 women faculty for 1600 students is hardly a statistic to be proud of. A request for more detailed data on why female candidates appear to have a harder time passing the faculty vote has been languishing in the Dean’s office for the past week.On grade reform, over two-thirds of the student body supported a three-tier grading system (a la Yale), and nearly the same percentage opposed a dean-supported proposal for mandatory curves. Both proposals ultimately fizzled. An initiative that passed, instituting “recommended” curves, is hardly reform at all. After receiving in the McKinsey study a meager 2.8 (on a scale from 1 to 7) from students for “Responsiveness of the Administration,” the Dean should have been more attentive to student opinion. Forty-nine percent of students said they “were very dissatisfied.”

On the public interest front, the Dean does not view as problematic the fact that an overwhelming majority of recent graduates pursue not justice but the highest paying clients. When America one day asks how Harvard Law School, an essential pillar of justice and center of legal training, came to be usurped by the wealthiest citizens and the narrowest corporate interests, how will we respond? Meanwhile, repeated requests for adequate staffing of the Office of Public Interest Advising have been thwarted by spotty enforcement of the Dean’s “hiring freeze.”

Perhaps Dean Clark’s greatest contribution to HLS is our endowment — a common success of deans of the 90s. But HLS now needs a leader who has a purpose for the profits reaped in the days of dot-coms: A dean with a vision and the ability to implement that vision. Qualified professors wait in the wings for their chance to invigorate the school. History tells us that it is time to hear from them.

Andrew Michaelson ’02

Terrorism not just a problem in the U.S.

“Ra’ed Nabil Al-Barguthi … launched a martyrdom operation … after penetrating all enemy security lines and smashing the myth of its security apparatuses. The operation led to the injury of … scores.” The work of Bin Laden? No, actually it’s a Hamas communiqué from September 5, 2001.

I do not mean to imply that Bin Laden’s cause bears the same legitimacy as the Palestinian’s. However, I would like to highlight Hamas and bin Laden’s similar rhetoric and to point to the use of similar terrorist tactics: suicide bombers targeting innocent civilians. In the minds of both radical Palestinians as well as the terrorist network that destroyed the Twin Towers and a portion of the Pentagon, an overwhelmingly strong oppressor justified the destruction of civilian life. To inflict maximum pain upon their apparently invincible enemies, both radical Palestinians as well as bin Laden have resorted to the slaughter of people living far from battlefields.

Both bin Laden and Hamas view themselves as the victims of occupation. For Hamas, it’s Israel’s settlement of what it views as Palestinian territories. In bin Laden’s eyes, America has waged a crusade against the Islamic world. And he can choose from a long list of American involvement in the Middle East, whether its U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia where American soldiers fail to obey Islamic dietary laws and female soldiers leave their heads uncovered. Or the “meddling” of America during the Gulf War and subsequent sanctions against Iraq that have left Iraqi Muslims malnourished and more destitute than before. Or does it go back further to U.S. support of the progressive Shah against the more religious Ayatollah Khomeini? And, of course, there is always America’s failure to renounce and isolate Israel.

Of the many lessons learned from Tuesday’s bombing, one is that holding alleged victims to lower ethical standards than their perceived oppressors is a slippery slope to disaster. The United States may have wronged the Arab world, and Israel should perhaps re-examine its policy towards the Palestinians. How-ever, the willingness of some to tolerate and overlook radical Palestinian attacks upon Israeli civilians in the face of Israeli transgressions is no less monstrous than justifying the loss of Tuesday’s lives by critiquing American policy in the Middle East. While there will always be disagreements regarding the conflict between Palestine and Israel, all sides bear a moral responsibility to denounce both openly and unequivocally suicide bombings against civilians and to make clear that support of either position does not include tolerance of terror. Suicide bombings are reprehensible, regardless of whether the victim is an American, Israeli or Palestinian civilian.

Jonathan Gottfried ’02

Comments