Posted below is some information about Reclaim Harvard Law, taken from our website. As you can see, we have been modeling our own Office of Diversity and Inclusion, one small space in the law school for marginalized students inspired by the school’s total failure to create any such space. In the past few days, a person who has been outspokenly opposed to our fight for racial justice from the beginning has been putting up deliberately provocative posters in our space. After extensive debate, we determined that, while all are welcome to engage with us, and we have repeatedly invited this particular individual to do so, a model of an Office of Diversity and Inclusion would certainly put up posters and information about its mission and values, but would retain control over its own decorating policy to maintain a space that reflects its values. We do not believe that free speech is implicated here (we are a group choosing what to post in its own space, without any institutional, let alone governmental, support, and there are countless other – white – spaces on the campus in which this individual can express his views, and has). However, notably, the idea that we have prevented this particular white man from putting up offensive posters in this particular space has created attention and outrage that our own claims to suppressed speech and silencing have not. This is not the first time that supposedly neutral principles of free speech have been invoked to protect white privilege – our fight is to make it the last. We have been told that the way to fight speech is with more speech. It should be obvious to everyone that this is not a level playing field, but nevertheless we are taking this advice, and will expand our campaign to spread the voices of the marginalized and the silenced throughout Harvard Law School. We wish Harvard Law School would be on the side of the oppressed and the marginalized, but can hope for no more than that it will maintain its studied neutrality. #MoreSpeech
What is Reclaim Harvard Law?
In the Fall of 2015, a coalition of students, staff, and their allies came together and formed Reclaim Harvard Law. Bringing together various marginalized student groups that have requested changes for decades, Reclaim Harvard Law aims to combat our school’s systemic racism and exclusion.
Why is Reclaim Harvard Law occupying Belinda Hall?
Last semester, Reclaim Harvard Law tried to engage the law school administration in a process of change. The students and staff met daily to identify the sources of systemic oppression and to discuss ways in which this oppression might be remedied in the law school. We then presented the results of our deliberations to the law school and to Deans Martha Minow and Marcia Sells of the law school administration. We were met with administrative intransigence.
Since the law school refuses to provide adequate institutional support for an office of diversity and inclusion, hire critical race theorists, promote staff of color in the workplace to management positions in their due course, provide adequate contextualization in curricula, educate its professors, its staff, and its students around cultural competency, take the steps that are necessary to accord adequate and equal dignity to marginalized students and staff, Reclaim Harvard Law aims to provide that space at the law school. Reclaim assumes the burden of educating ourselves and others in spite of this institution and not because of it.
What is Reclaim Harvard Law doing in Belinda Hall?
Reclaim Harvard Law claims the space of Belinda Hall for those who are marginalized by HLS. We are creating our own Office of Diversity and Inclusion there. We are engaging in the Critical Race Theory and contextualization discussions lacking in our classrooms. We will continue to promote the availability of such opportunities for all students. For now we are engaging in self-teaching and learning, in an environment that seeks to welcome everyone.