BY ARTHUR ATARIAN
Despite a shrinking budget and cost overruns, Harvard Law School will push forward with a plan to open two satellite campuses in the growing global hotspots of Beijing and Dubai. The move follows other universities, Georgetown, NYU, and Yale, which have moved aggressively to open facilities in countries outside the United States and more traditional study abroad locations, like Europe.
“In order to understand an increasingly globalized world, and one in which American values are often mistakenly neglected, our students need exposure to these rapidly growing economies and the illiberal, subtly authoritarian legal structures that hold them together,” said Vice Dean for Extraterritorial Expansion Manny Faust D. Steny. Beijing and Dubai were chosen for their increasing prominence as sites of legal careers.
In coming months, HLS may open more satellite campuses, in cities like Moscow and Singapore. “We thought it would be fascinating to shed light on Singapore’s unique culture of laissez-faire finance fused with public bloodletting for minor misdemeanors,” said Dean Steny. “It really illuminates how students will better understand our own country’s violations of human rights protocols in light of foreign flavors of brutality”. It was a shame, he admitted, that the Singapore campus could not open sooner.
Still, he expressed hope that students would find plenty to fascinate them in the legal orders of China and the UAE. “Where else in the world do you have a law column,” in the local paper, asked Dean Steny, holding a copy of Dubai’s Gulf News. He pointed to readers’ letters, asking how long Islamic Law stipulated that they wait for their mail-order Pakistani brides to be “housebroken” before they could be properly beaten. “This is a fascinating…um, window into a different way of life,” Dean Steny said after reading the column aloud, before quickly changing the subject to the UAE’s accession to various international treaties.
The Harvard Asia Law Society was particularly excited about the prospect of a Beijing campus. One student spoke of their inspiring trip to China’s capital just a few short years ago. “It’s one thing to learn about Chinese law in Cambridge,” he said, “but imagine standing in Tiananmen Square itself. You’ve got the Forbidden City, where the emperors issued laws for epochs, and, right across, the National People’s Congress, where they rubber stamp them up to this day.” He continued, “the location was like living history. It felt like momentous things were happening here not more than even twenty years ago, though, if they did, the policemen accompanying us sure couldn’t remember.”
Dean Steny said that students studying abroad at the satellite campuses would hardly be the only ones to benefit from their opening. “We anticipate the human rights and refugee clinics will be kept quite busy” by an influx of new clients, he noted, “on a strictly training basis. I mean, our students are not licensed to cause troub…I mean, practice in these places.” He added: “thank God.”
Officials in the countries into which HLS is expanding are highly optimistic about the plans. “There is no place better for Harvard students to get a first-hand look at law than China,” said Communist Party official N. Hu Man Lee. “From our policies toward the mysteriously angry peoples of Xinjiang and Tibet to the merely temporary continuation of colonial common law in Hong Kong, China exemplifies our creed of ‘one country, two systems’. All our different legal orders work together to ensure harmony and serenity – by any means necessary.”
Dubai’s Sheikh Yassir bin Hateen added, “In Dubai HLS students will have the opportunity to overturn their stereotypes about the Muslim world. Here they will not see the ghastly things that your sensationalist media reports about shari’a law day in and day out. They will see that we treat all four of our official citizens like kings – literally. They will see that we are a peaceful nation. But they will not see too much of it, insh’allah. After all, it is our responsibility as hosts to keep our honored guests from experiencing discomfort!”
One dissenting voice on campus has been Professor Alan Dershowitz, who is incredulous that the Extraterritorial Expansion Committee chose to open a location in Dubai rather than his preferred location, a heavily fortified Israeli settlement located deep inside the West Bank. “I mean, really? Dubai? In Eretz Yisrael, we make questionable interpretations of international humanitarian law all day long. I mean, we have potential violations of treaties, charters, and conventions up our tuches! If you stand on top this settlement and look down on all the little terrorist villages, I guarantee you’ll see some shit go down. Then we’re talking comparative legal education. Wait, is that thing is on?”