What will HLS look like five years from now? There will be an imposing new edifice standing in the Northwest Corner, but otherwise, we suspect, things will be much the same. Dean Kagan will rock her same black pants and colored blazer duo, and Dean Cosgrove will sport her bright red sweater. We also suspect that the faculty and students body will look much the same – black and white and not much in between. We know, however, that with greater efforts by HLS that can change.
The law school has had to engage in an active campaign to raise money for the NW Corner project, pulling in big donors like Bruce Wasserstein and creating videos about student life and how it will be improved by new student spaces.
However, HLS needs new faces too, and this is going to require campaigning and active efforts on the part of the law school. It’s easy to blame the weather. Boston winters can be indisputably harsh. But the California and Texas clubs are some of the largest geographically-based student groups, so it’s not as though students from warmer climates are unable to brave a Boston winter.
So we ask, where are the Latinos, the Southeast Asians, and the Native American students? Where are the professors? Where is the diversity we see at UCLA, Cal, Stanford, and NYU? They’re not here in the sort of numbers we would expect from the New York of Law Schools; unless we are the New York law firm of law schools – gigantic, impersonal, largely Caucasian, and politically uninteresting.
Creating diversity – racially, orientationally, scholarly – here at the law school will be a challenge. We don’t deny that the number of minority professors of Harvard caliber is small. Nor do we think that HLS should lower its standards to bring more minority faculty members here, the common charge against “affirmative action” measures. The first Vietnamese or Latino professors here will need to feel welcome on their merits if we expect them to stay.
The same applies to students. The Admissions Office, while not releasing hard numbers, has managed to create enough pipelines that it can recruit a proportionate number of African American students relative to national population. Having an active student group on campus and a strong alumni network helps, and we applaud the efforts by members of BLSA and the Admissions Office. It’s now time for HLS to move past a black/white, liberal/conservative view of diversity, especially in a day and age when diversity comes in all colors and orientations (sexual, academic, cultural).
Prospective students, Mexican American, Sioux, Malaysian, Salvadoran, or Transgendered, need to feel that they will be welcomed by HLS, actively welcomed, and this requires active recruiting. “If you build it, they will come,” may work in Field of Dreams, but it won’t work for Harvard.
We students and recent alumni are your greatest asset. Those of us who believe in the value of diversity are ready to go out and start doing the work for you, Harvard Law. Send us now. . .
So that when we come back for our five-year reunions, more will have changed than the square footage.