Questions for Admitted Students to Ask Dean Manning

As current students, there are many things we wish we had known before enrolling at Harvard Law School. As members of the Labor and Employment Action Project and the Harvard Graduate Student Union, we have been fighting since we arrived on this campus for our right to form a union, better conditions for student workers, and real protections against harassment and discrimination. We asked our fellow activists with official and unofficial student groups, including the Financial Justice Coalition (FJC), Affinity Group Coalition (AGC), Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign (HPDC), and Pipeline Parity Project (PPP), what they wished they knew as well.

This Saturday at 1:30 PM, Dean John Manning will address prospective students at Admitted Students Weekend. To admitted students, here are a few questions we think you should ask of Dean Manning and other Harvard Law School administrators before you make your decision to come here. This is by no means a complete list. And if you do decide to come here, we encourage you to join these fights for a more just and equitable Harvard community.

  1. Will you support the Harvard Graduate Student Union in calling for strong protections against discrimination and harassment in our first union contract?
  2. What process would be followed if a professor here were credibly accused of sexual assault, and was that process followed for Brett Kavanaugh?
  3. If there are so many excellent clinical programs at HLS, why is there only one full-time social worker on staff?
  4. Why has HLS mounted a plaque on a rock to address its roots in slavery instead of divesting from the prison industrial complex?
  5. When does Harvard plan on divesting its endowment from private prisons or the larger prison industrial complex, like Columbia and the University of California system?
  6. Given that men are still obtaining Latin honors more frequently than women at a statistically significant level, what does HLS plan to do to investigate and address the root causes of this disparity?
  7. Last year, 39 student groups signed a letter calling for improvements to the Low Income Protection Plan to enable students from all backgrounds to pursue public interest careers. Last August, HLS adopted just a small portion of these recommendations. When do you plan to adopt the rest of the recommendations, such as improving the LIPP contribution scale to account for rising costs of living?
  8. HLS touts its ability to get students clerkships, but after it was revealed that Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski harassed female clerks with impunity for decades, what has HLS done to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to clerk without being subject to abuse?
  9. Why doesn’t HLS have gender-neutral bathrooms on every floor of school buildings? Why isn’t there a gender-neutral bathroom in the gym?
  10. Since 2005, 85% of federal clerks have been non-Hispanic white graduates. What is HLS doing to remedy the egregious racial disparities in clerkships, including promoting adherence to the clerkship hiring pilot plan and reviewing its own grading policies?
  11. Why are there zero tenured and only one tenure track Latinx member of the faculty in 2019?
  12. Following the #MeToo movement, some law firms began requiring associates to sign forced arbitration clauses waiving their right to sue if they experienced sexual harassment, racial discrimination, or other forms of illegal treatment at work. Many firms didn’t tell students they would have to sign these agreements until after they had accepted their jobs—or even showed up on the first day. Why does HLS allow firms that use unethical forced arbitration clauses to recruit on campus?
  13. What is HLS’s stance on producing so many prosecutors to put people in prisons and then turning around to profit off of incarcerating people through its endowment?
  14. Why hasn’t HLS created an office of diversity or diversity committee to provide structural support for diversity, equity, and inclusion issues?
  15. Why hasn’t HLS given its student workers—who currently make the Massachusetts minimum wage of $12—a raise in at least 11 years, while tuition has skyrocketed 57%, from $40,751 in 2008 to $63,800 in 2019, in the same time period?
  16. Does HLS read our emails?

Rachel Sandalow-Ash & Vail Kohnert-Yount

Rachel Sandalow-Ash & Vail Kohnert-Yount are 2Ls.

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