Category Archives: Opinion

Commentary by members of the Harvard Law community.

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 22, 2014  / 

Harvard’s New Sex Policy: A Step Backward

Harvard University believes in due process, just not for those accused of sexual harassment. That, in essence, was the message that the university sent when it published its new sexual harassment guidelines in July. The rules erase the anachronistic system of “due process,” replacing the outdated adversarial model with an inquisitorial system. These are no small changes. Now, all decisions run through a black box, two-person “investigative team” which acts as prosecutor, judge, and jury and whose decisions of fact are non-reviewable. Bypassing the usual process of letting each of the schools decide for themselves whether and how to adopt these standards, the administration in their wisdom has decided to unilaterally impose them on each of the member schools. First of all, we would like to thank the central Harvard administration for helping us out. We here at the Harvard Law School have never really thought deeply about the weighty … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 22, 2014  / 

Open Letter to Dean Cosgrove and Professor Goldberg: Students Need Title IX Transparency

We want to thank Lindsay Church and the Harvard Law Record for addressing an important topic: the implementation at Harvard Law School of the University’s new sexual harassment policy that incorporates federal Title IX requirements. Among the important issues raised by this article and the robust debate on campus about the policy’s implementation, there is one that stands out for immediate action: We are very concerned about the lack of clarity on who at the law school is currently mandated to report disclosures of sexual and gender-based harassment and assault. If a student describes to a trusted professor a troubling incident with a peer, does that professor now have an obligation to report the incident to the Law School’s Title IX coordinators? What about a student who tells an OCS adviser about a negative experience with a law firm partner during an EIP interview? A student who relays to a … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 22, 2014  / 

Reflecting on a Weekend of Resistance in Ferguson, Missouri


This past weekend, a group of Harvard students from the law school, Kennedy School of Government, divinity school, and education school headed to St. Louis and Ferguson to support the local community and organizers for their “Weekend of Resistance.” Below are some collective reflections on the inspiring and terrifying state response we witnessed. This weekend we traveled to Missouri for the Weekend of Resistance in response to the killing of Michael Brown over the summer. The most striking feature of the weekend was the contrast between the commitment, discipline, and love of the protesters and the threatening and violent nature of law enforcement in Ferguson and St. Louis. All weekend, we witnessed how the killing by the police of Michael Brown was bringing together racial justice advocates around the country. The organizers had brought the community and its allies together with powerful stories demonstrating the urgent need for action. As … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 22, 2014  / 

Obama’s Second Term Feels Like Bush’s Fourth

Since birth we Americans are told that we are exceptional, that we live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Yet the Bush and Obama administrations have disproved that refrain. They have revealed that largely we are cowards — such cowards that, because of a paralyzing fear over terrorism, we are allowing the executive branch in its seemingly unending quest to “protect” us to circumvent many of the rights that make America worth the protecting in the first place. In other words, precisely because post-9/11 America is not “the home of the brave” but rather the “home of the perpetually frightened,” Obama and Bush have exploited our fear to blind us to the shameful suspension of habeas corpus and the shoving of the first, fourth, and eighth amendments, respectively, into a shredder. In doing so, they have been slowly but steadily turning “the land of … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 22, 2014  / 

What Harvard Law Students Should Know About Corporations and Campaign Finance

The greatest impediment to dealing with the greatest challenges facing our nation and planet — preventing catastrophic climate change, addressing wealth and income inequality, ensuring health care for all, and much more — is concentrated corporate power. And because corporations are legal creations of the state, the problem of corporate power is, ultimately, a legal question: What legal rights, responsibilities and restraints do We the People impose on our creations? There are a multitude of sources of corporate power, and no one approach will be sufficient to reassert popular sovereignty over our corporate creations. But amidst a host of desperately needed reforms, reducing corporations’ political power is an absolute necessity; and a key imperative means of reducing their political power is through amending the Constitution. I favor a constitutional amendment to establish that for-profit corporations do not have claim to constitutional rights broadly, but here focus on a more particular … Continue reading

Opinion  /  October 12, 2014  / 

Why We Are Going to Ferguson This Weekend

Many people have asked why a group of Harvard students are headed to Ferguson over fall break. We ourselves each spent a significant amount of time thinking through this decision—thinking through why we, Harvard students and many of us not students of color, should decide to drive 18 hours to a community we are not from. We all worried about seeming like we were coopting someone else’s struggle, or that a weekend trip just wasn’t enough to effectively support change. To articulate our decision, and share our initial reflections, here is our attempt at a collective response. In some ways, our decision to go to Ferguson was very simple: it was about solidarity. A few weeks ago, local organizers put out a call for people from across the country to come show their support for a local community that has been mobilizing and organizing for two months through a “Weekend … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 3, 2014  / 

How Is Harvard Law School Spending Your Tuition?

Of all the problems in the world that need addressing, law school tuition hikes at Harvard Law School are perhaps the least pressing (See generally my previous article). As the Good Book says, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, and since your average HLS graduate leaves with $123,673 worth of treasure outstanding [1], I’d say this is a question near and dear to our hearts. Increases in law school tuition are by no means news, but after last year’s hikes I was left with a burning question. Where is all of this extra money going? Since 2009-2010, law school tuition has increased from $43900 [2] to $54850 today, an increase of $6179 per student after adjusting for inflation. [3] With a total of 1546 JD students, that works out to at least $8,406,405. [4] So what is Harvard Law doing with the additional $8,400,000? [5] Gnawed … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 3, 2014  / 

In Response to Bill Barlow’s “BigLaw” Article

Bill Barlow’s recent article attempts to persuade his fellow students (and perhaps himself) that going into BigLaw is the most effective way to “save the world.” His definition of saving (or, perhaps more accurately, $aving) the world seems to be making as much money as possible and then donating much of it to charity. Under Bill’s view, it is how you spend your money, not your time and talents, that matters. Bill is absolutely right that distributional issues lie at the core of social justice efforts. But he is wrong that individual, voluntary wealth redistribution is the answer. The answer is the systematic redistribution of power and privilege. This is the work that public interest lawyers do. As a BigLaw associate, your money can buy inhalers for children in low-income communities of color whose lungs are filled with the pollution pumped out by the coal plants built in their backyards. … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 3, 2014  / 

In Solidarity with Hong Kong Protestors


On September 24th, students in Hong Kong began boycotting their classes and kickstarted a mass civil disobedience campaign. The students were outraged at the Chinese government’s decision in August to impose limits on Hong Kong people’s voting rights. After initially promising democratic elections with universal suffrage, Beijing announced that all candidates for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong would have to be pre-approved by what is essentially a pro-China nominating committee. In other words, Hong Kong residents will only be able to vote from among pre-selected candidates chosen for their loyalty to Beijing. Not only does this contradict international standards for democratic elections, but it shows Beijing’s reluctance to relinquish political power to the genuine will of the Hong Kong people. Indicatively, upon rejecting open nominations for electing the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Li Fei—the deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee—remarked that “[m]any Hong … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 3, 2014  / 

Law Journals: Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

“Which journals are you interested in?” It’s a question on 1L lips in recent weeks (when we’re not talking about class or where to get drinks after class). It’s also a question that presumes everyone is or should be involved in at least one journal. Now, journals here seem to have mostly grown to include three parts: affinity groups, blogs, and the academic journal itself. I want to focus on the last element here, which still seems to be their core: the “journal” part of a journal. Is there really any reason for a 1L to get involved in producing a journal, especially at a subciting level? Many of the explanations I hear (e.g., “They’re a good place to meet people outside of your section”) apply to the “affinity group” part of a journal far better than the “subciting” part of a journal. Others beg the question (e.g., “You could … Continue reading