Thursday at 12:00pm – Students meet in Professor Charles Nesson’s office
Professor Nesson: “I want to leak your email.”
Me: “No. Please don’t forward it. I want to clean it up and write the story. If nothing else, I’m sure there are typos.”
Professor Nesson: “Don’t worry about typos! I put them in my emails on purpose—they make them look more natural.”
Me: “Professor, please don’t. I know I can do it more justice.”
Professor Nesson: “Fine. We’ll wait for your article.”
Saturday at 8:10am – Professor Nesson forwards email to HLS students, faculty, and Harvard Law Record editors.
When you’re a tenured white male professor at Harvard Law School you can acknowledge your privilege daily and still not recognize how you exercise it. You can pledge your support for student activists and still undermine their autonomy. You can commit yourself to dialogic processes and still ignore minority voices.
Just a few minutes after seeing his email, I called Professor Nesson and shared my honest frustration. I realized that asking him to simply respect my decision was sadly not enough to bar his own; he needed to understand why I can’t operate with the freedom he can. I spent my Saturday morning explaining what perhaps I was too tired to a few days earlier, that no one would challenge his intelligence like they’d challenge mine over just one misspelled word.