The Year of Anonymity

BY

With this issue, the Record concludes another year on the Harvard Law beat. We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage this year, from curriculum changes to salary raises to the difficulties of being green.

As it must, the Record board is turning over. Last year, when “that other HLR,” the Harvard Law Review, elected its first female president in several years, we responded by electing a female editor-in-chief, Anna Brook, as well as female news and opinion editors. This year, the Law Review tried to get ahead of the curve by electing Andrew Crespo its first-ever Latino president.

Nice try, Law Review. The Record is not only maintaining a female-dominated editorial board, it is picking up its own Latino Points. Managing Editor Andrea Saenz will take over the reins as the Record’s Editor-in-Chief. The rest of the board includes Publisher Erin Archerd, who is a quarter Mexican, Opinion Editor Katie Mapes, who enjoys salsa and traveling in Latin America, and Entertainment Editor Pamela Foohey, who bought a Gloria Estefan tape in 1991. Plus, a Record editorial from last week is being reprinted in Spanish-language paper El Planeta. Who’s Latino-friendly now, Law Review?

On a more serious note, this year has been a strange one for the expression of ideas about law school. We printed a handful of anonymous editorials from people who were worried about the career implications of having their names on the Internet attached to their opinions, even relatively tame ones. Long-running gossip and humor column Fenno all but disappeared from the paper, due not to an editorial decision but to a lack of willing writers.

The strangeness of the Autoadmit message board only got stranger, when in the spring the mainstream media got a hold of the concerns and complaints of female law students insulted on the board, and HLS hosted a Berkman Center panel. The strangeness reached a peak last week, when a terrible “joke” post on the board threatening a Virginia Tech copycat murder-suicide resulted in the evacuation of UC Hastings College of the Law and the involvement of the FBI.

On one hand, the Record supports the free expression of ideas, even anonymous ones. Any student of American history knows there is a long tradition of pseudonymous public writing. This is one reason we chose not to editorialize about the Autoadmit controversy last month, instead covering the panel and running an editorial by owner Jarret Cohen – we would rather let the coverage, the message board, and the affected parties speak for themselves. And the Record would rather print your anonymous editorials than none at all.

At the same time, we worry about the diversity of voices on campus disappearing under the shadow of risk aversion, or being twisted into something hurtful through the safety of online anonymity. There is more to life than anonymously judging law students’ looks on the Internet, and there is certainly more to a fulfilling career than constantly checking one’s public opinions to make sure they are bland and acceptable to a host of hypothetical law firm partners. Putting to paper your honest ideas and concerns about politics, law school, careers, or just the latest wait time on the MyPlan queue – and then signing your name – makes the Harvard Law community a more vibrant, interesting place.

We will stop pontificating here. For the graduating 3Ls, congratulations and good luck on the bar and beyond. For the rest of us, here’s to another good year at the Record, and we promise even more up-to-date coverage of administration policies, student protests, and at least 300 Federalist Society panels.

If you’d like to join the staff of the Record, please email record@law.harvard.edu for information on applying for a paid position. Good luck on finals, and have a wonderful summer.

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