Addendum to the Report of the Harvard Law School Task Force on Academic Community and Student Engagement

As student representatives to the Harvard Law School Task Force on Academic Community and Student Engagement, we believe in the potential power of Harvard Law School. We believe this institution is uniquely situated to serve as a steward of the rule of law in a time of critical global need; as a training ground for ethical advocates for social justice and responsible corporate lawyers alike; and as an academic playground for much-needed intellectual exploration. We believe that if the institution’s unparalleled resources––human and financial––were mobilized to ensure that all stakeholders in our community are heard, Harvard Law would be better positioned to fulfill its mission to train world-class lawyers, leaders, advocates, and agents for change.

Yet, the composition of this Task Force––with representatives for students, alumni, and faculty–– seems to mirror the larger challenges facing the institution: an unfulfilled voice of all members of the community. Even in the presence of student representatives, student concerns were not heard or considered. The subjects of our critique, the methods utilized to observe issues, and the innovative and imaginative proposals offered by students were often met with platitudes. Whether about the scope of the Task Force, about our role on the Task Force, or about the hard lines delineating what we could and could never question about the structure of this institution, students on this Task Force were denied the exercise of power afforded to us by the broad mandate articulated by Dean Martha Minow. This tension highlights a broader problem on campus––the wide latitude of the HLS professorate vis-a-vis the rest of the HLS community. To this end, in our capacity as student representatives to this Task Force, we felt compelled and driven by principle to articulate the concerns of students in a manner that we think best captures the concerns of our peers.

The faculty is the gatekeeper of Harvard Law School. They are a self-governing, self-regulating body that collectively determines the direction of the institution. At present, faculty answers to no one within the law school community, whether on procedural or academic matters. Therefore, Harvard Law School, like any sizable institution, has room for improvement, but only if the institution and its gatekeepers are open to progress. If the law school is serious about making positive change, faculty must genuinely listen to the ideas, suggestions, questions, and concerns of the entire community. Harvard Law School is nothing more than a partnership between its faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Only through true and meaningful engagement with all of these essential stakeholders that make up the institution will we be able to achieve the lofty goals set out in the school’s mission statement.

The Task Force itself was never expected to solve the challenges faced by the school. Instead, we were tasked to investigate; to listen; to understand; ultimately, to suggest a way forward by way of recommendations. Although we agree with many of the recommendations in the Report, we diverge on a few critical subjects. We are of the view that the problem is not articulated well enough. Instead, the Task Force Report resorts to generalities that are devoid of the concerns we heard from students, rendering the investigation piece utterly meaningless. While the recommendations are worthwhile tweaks, they are minimal in the face of the enormous task for which we were called to probe and mend. The challenges facing this law school are endemic, and nothing short of meaningful engagement and a commitment to material change will be able to address concerns expressed by students and faculty members for decades.

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Letter to the Editor: The Destruction of the Constitutional Right of “Freedom of Association” at Harvard University

Recently, the administration leadership at Harvard University has proposed a ban on fraternities, sororities, and “finals clubs”, as well as other organizations. The ban would apply to students who attend university at Harvard. As a graduate of Harvard Law School, I view this as misguided policy. The Constitution of the United States guarantees “freedom of association”.

In my opinion, if this ban goes into effect, members of these clubs simply have to sue Harvard University, in federal court, for violating their constitutional rights. The University will lose these lawsuits, but why make everyone go through that misery? To have a committee of administrators decide which private organizations students can belong to, and which they cannot belong to, is not only a clear violation of the student’s constitutional rights, it is overbearing, downright parental, overly paternalistic, and frightens this freedom-loving citizen.

Let the students make their own decisions, and let the students make their own mistakes. Accountability, legal and otherwise, should always be on an individual basis, not a form of collective punishment, and clearly never a form of collective banishment.

Perhaps the leadership of Harvard University could spend their time better by sitting around a bong, and smoking copious amounts of marijuana, and eating mountains of pop tarts. Then in their heads, they can dream of the dictatorship that they so clearly want to impose on the powerless students of the University. “Hey teachers, leave those kids alone!”

Sincerely,

Charles Facktor
Harvard Law School Class of 1990

In Jesus Loves Obamacare, an Accounting of How Biblical Instruction Leads to Liberal Policies

By the time the Republican-dominated Congress and executive branch had begun preparations to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in January 2017, the stage had already been set for this watershed moment of backlash in American political life.

The cradle-to-grave medical safety net that the late Sen. Edward Kennedy had called “the cause of my life,” known as Obamacare, signified more than the expansion of accessible healthcare for millions. The legislation, in force for several years and perhaps more consequential on individual livelihoods than any other public policy since Social Security, had embodied a primary objective of American liberalism since the nascent days of the modern Democratic party unfolded under the leadership of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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HLS Owes Applicants, New Admits Data on Sexual Assault

As Harvard Law School gears up to welcome a new class of students to campus this fall, we urge the administration to evaluate and disclose how it deals with the admission of students investigated or found responsible for, sexual misconduct at their previous college or university. We seek transparency on this issue so the university can engage in productive dialogue with students and administrators on how best to protect its students from sexual assault and discrimination. This information is particularly critical in light of the 2015 campus climate survey, which found that 7.6% of female graduate students experience sexual assault while attending Harvard University.

Students in the Harvard Law Gender Violence Legal Policy Workshop submitted a questionnaire to the Admissions Office[1] seeking answers to questions of critical importance to the student community. As of the publication of this piece, we have not yet received a response. Transparency surrounding this information is important to current students’ safety and to prospective or admitted students considering attending Harvard Law School. Campus climate is a serious consideration in weighing whether or not to attend, or apply to, Harvard Law.

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HLS Affinity Groups Endorse Professor Wilkins for Dean

Dear President Faust,

Thank you for including student input in your search for the next Dean of Harvard Law School. We write you as student leaders from the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA), Harvard Black Law Students Association (HBLSA), Harvard African Law Association (HALA), Lambda, La Alianza, Middle East Law Students Association (MELSA), Native American Law Students Association (NALSA), Queer Trans People of Color (QTPOC), South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA), and Women’s Law Association (WLA). It is difficult to calculate the number of unique individuals we represent due to the intersecting identities of some of our members, but our combined membership totals at least 700 students, which is about 40% of the J.D. student body.[1]

Collectively, we wholeheartedly offer our endorsement of Professor David Wilkins, a scholar, a researcher, an innovator, and a member of the Harvard Law School faculty. While we do not know the list of candidates under your consideration, we sincerely believe that Professor Wilkins has demonstrated a strong commitment to innovative legal thought, a deep understanding of the legal profession and legal education, and an unwavering commitment to equality and justice in the rule of law. His lived experience and nuanced understanding of the power of discourse puts him in a unique position to lead Harvard Law School into arguably one of the most crucial chapters in our school’s two-hundred-year history.

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Meet the Candidates for Student Government

We conducted interviews with candidates who will be up for positions in Student Government. Voting will take place on April 5 and 6.

Here is where to find these interviews:

Adrian Perkins and Amanda Lee, Candidates for Student Government President and Vice President

Joe Sullivan and Jin Kim, Candidates for Student Government President and Vice President

Anika Khan and Tyra Walker, Candidates for Student Government President and Vice President

Paola Eisner and Lane Kauder, Candidates for Director of Student Organizations

Leilani Doktor, Kaitlyn Beck, and Sam Garcia, Candidates for 2L Representative

Raj Salhotra and Cameron Pritchett, Candidates for 3L Representative

President Faust: Alumnae Should Have Role in Dean Search

Dear President Faust,

Thank you for the invitation to provide input regarding the search for the next Dean of Harvard Law School. I am writing on behalf of the Harvard Law School Women’s Alliance (“HLSWA”). Founded in 2010, the HLSWA represents over 13,000 women who have graduated from Harvard Law School — 32% of the HLS alumni. One of the primary goals of the HLSWA is to increase the presence of HLS alumnae in positions of power and leadership.

As the largest and most active HLS alumni and special interest group, we write to encourage the Search Committee to include in the evaluation of candidates for the position of Dean of HLS evidence of his or her commitment to promoting advancement of women and gender equality.

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The Dean Search: An Open Letter from The Women’s Law Association to President Faust

Dear President Faust,

Thank you for welcoming the opinions of the law school community in your search for the next Dean of Harvard Law School. As a part of the law school community, the Harvard Women’s Law Association (WLA) is one of the largest and most active student organizations on campus. We are a diverse group dedicated to supporting women at the law school and beyond, and we wanted to share our collective vision for the future of our institution.

The selection of the next Dean will send a message about Harvard Law School’s mission and values that extends far beyond Cambridge. The next Dean needs to work to promote diversity and gender equality, social justice, innovation in legal education, student inclusiveness and community building, and transparency, and the message we send with this selection should emphasize a commitment to this work. We need a Dean who is committed to building upon the public interest work advanced by Dean Minow. We need an active leader who will lead the law school through a challenging political, social, and economic climate, and who will accelerate the mission “to educate leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.”

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A Response to Alexander J. Cullen’s “In Support of the Immigration Ban” published in the Harvard Crimson on February 19, 2017

I commend Mr. Cullen’s satirical editorial recently published in The Crimson for challenging all Americans who defend the remaining rotting columns of white supremacy to face the mirror and consider our place on this land’s past, present, and future. His piece can be read here: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/2/22/alexander-cullen-in-support-of-the-immigration-ban/

Read plainly, Mr. Cullen argues that Trump’s travel ban is necessary to protect American freedom from people in the seven banned countries who threaten our values from beyond our borders. Though people may “travel to the United States to partake in our democratic tradition—and even serve in our military,” he argues, “due caution is necessary to protect our solid ground of liberty from anyone who fundamentally opposes it.” This, told through the lens of Pedro Salsedo who arrived in the Americas on Columbus’ voyage of 1492. Ironic—I know.

Although difficult, at first, to recognize as satire, if you follow his arguments closely, you’ll realize that he never intended for us to consider his notions seriously. First, Mr. Cullen references Salsedo, his ancestor on the Santa Maria who traveled with Columbus to Puerto Rico in 1492. But a cursory web search reveals that Columbus did not visit Puerto Rico in 1492 and the Santa Maria ran aground in Haiti before venturing as far east as PR.[1] So what is Mr. Cullen getting at, if not signaling to the reader that she should treat with skepticism his remaining positions?

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Progressivism in Crisis

Progressivism has an authenticity problem.

It’s been hijacked by those most disconnected from the injustices it seeks to correct — it has, as I have written before, “become the project of the oppressors, not the oppressed.” In doing so, it has stripped autonomy from those marginalized populations who suffer the most under those injustices. This has led to those populations being denied the validation and empowerment they desperately need, which can only arise from the ability to freely decide their own fate.

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White PowerPoint: 8 Tips and Tricks for Punchier Hate

Okay, so your fringe white nationalist belief system is finally picking up steam. How can you break into the lecture circuit and make your voice heard? If you’re serious about compelling storytelling, you’ll have to master Microsoft PowerPoint, the presentation software used by white people in fields as diverse as management consulting and operations consulting. So, go ahead, log onto the desktop computer your mom keeps in the basement but lets you use, and book a venue using your mom’s credit card. With these easy tips and tricks you’re sure to earn a standing ö-vation.

  1. Deliver a clear message on each slide
    It’s common for beginners to stuff their slides with too many words. Just like the hairstyle you share with trendy uptown baristas, you’ll need to shave a lot off the sides and focus on what’s up top. Your audience shouldn’t have to squint to determine whether or not you’re in favor of a “white history month” (you obviously are). Your conclusions should be clear, even to the folks in the very back of the ballroom of the Sheraton off Morris Pike (congrats on booking that by the way, it’s a beautiful space).

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Record Retrospective: Supreme Court Nominee’s Social Club Nearly Shut Down Over Nuisance Complaints


Editor’s note: President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to fill the late Justice Scalia’s seat on the United States Supreme Court this past Tuesday. The below Record article from November 30, 1990, describes how Cambridge residents threatened to shut down Gorsuch’s social club, Lincoln’s Inn, over “rowdy, selfish and “anti-social” behavior.”

Lincoln’s Inn Survives Neighborhood Petition

By George Paul

The Lincoln’s Inn Society has survived, for the moment, a threat to its very existence in the latest chapter of a forty-year battle between the Inn and its neighbors.

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Record Retrospective: Senate Should Not Subject Judicial Nominees to Simplistic Political Litmus Tests

Editor’s note: 30 years ago today, The Record printed this excerpt from a speech delivered by Abner J. Mikva to the D.C. Bar Annual Meeting in 1985. Chief Judge Mikva served on the United States Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit, first in Seat 11 and then as Chief Judge. Merrick Garland would eventually replace him in both seats. Chief Judge Mikva passed away last year.

In 1979 I was called by the Attorney General to tell me that President Carter was going to nominate me for one of the new judgeships on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. I remember wondering what the President’s timetable was, and how long it would be before I moved to my new offices down the street. What naivete!

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“But Can We Afford It?”: Modern Monetary Theory

The Harvard Law Forum and the Modern Monetary Network hosted “But Can We Afford It?” on December 2, 2016.

“But Can We Afford It?” This is the question posed to every candidate who has ever had an idea for any government program ever. Following one of the most polarizing and contentious electoral cycles in modern memory, it’s time to discuss what that question really means. Together, two former D.C. insiders — Stephanie Kelton (former Chief Economist, U.S. Senate Budget Committee; economic advisor to Bernie Sanders 2016 Presidential Campaign; recognized as a member of the 2016 Politico 50) and Amar Reganti (former Deputy Director of the Office of Debt Management, U.S.Treasury; Strategist, GMO, LLC.) — interrogate the public understanding of the federal budgeting process.

The video of the event is below: