OCS Responds to Ralph Nader’s Concerns about Firm Violations

This letter is a response to Ralph Nader to Dean Minow: Inform Students About Firm Violations, which ran on April 25, 2016.

Dear Mr. Nader,

I am responding to your open letter to Dean Minow in the Harvard Law Record on April 26, 2016.

 We share your belief that students should have the best information about potential employers. We prepare students to take full responsibility for every aspect of their academic and professional lives, and to be educated consumers and their own best advocates. Our students are superbly equipped to find all relevant information and then make well-considered judgments on the basis of that information. And through this experience, they learn and develop a set of professional life skills that will serve them well throughout their careers as they change jobs and evaluate future employers. Continue reading “OCS Responds to Ralph Nader’s Concerns about Firm Violations”

Taking the Bitter with the Sweet

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent…The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men [and women] of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.

-Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Let’s make a deal: I’ll give you the opportunity to join a sports team, be its captain, and then go on to win a Rhodes Scholarship to study in England. The only catch? You have to associate with the people I want you to. You have to do what I say and let them in. If you resist, if you cry for help, if you refuse to comply, well, none of these opportunities for you. Have fun with your friends.

But see, it’s OK. I can do this. Because I’m the one who let you in. I’m the one with the high standards, who picked you out of thousands, who let you have that “H” emblazoned onto your chest. I’m the one who feeds you. I’m the one who lets you learn. I’m the one who builds legacies. And though I’m not the one to control your little private club over there, I’m the one with the Power on this side of the street.

And you can’t say a thing. Because you’re the one who discriminates. You’re the one who extends the invitation to a specific few, decides they’d be a good fit, and lets them have that phoenix or that bee or that Greek letter emblazoned onto their chest. You’re the one who lets them party. You’re the one to fear.

I know that I haven’t provided safe spaces in the past.

I know that I don’t provide enough social spaces now.

But I’m just trying to be fair. Sure, some of my volunteer clubs still require people to apply. And I know that there is a lot of pressure to be smart and perfect and kind—to make some mistakes but not too many, to engage in debate but not disagree too much, to admit that you’re struggling but not too loudly. To say you’re OK when you’re really not.

But people don’t remember all of that. There’s a lot of “diversity” on my side. And they smile oh so nicely. So what if I don’t do a lot to actually make you all interact? You’re the bad one. I may create the problems on this side of the street, but it’s on your side where victims fall prey.

Maybe I’ve crafted an environment where everyone feels the need to be included — where instead of being free to say “no” and be OK with that, there is an overwhelming need to say “yes” and not be rejected. Sure, it could be better for all of your sakes to realize that you don’t have to bend to the will of others, that the world will not end if that one says “bye” because eventually someone will say “hello.”

Could I do more to make my side of the street more positive and healthy? To care for you when you get assaulted instead of putting you through the wringer? Could I admit that I’ve contributed to your plague, that sexual assault and gender discrimination happen in my sphere as well, that I’ve made you sick then sent you to the slaughter?

I could.

But first, I’m going to make you change. I’m going to force this pill down your throat. If I have to impose a quota, I’ll do it. If I have to deprive you of your social-moral freedoms of speech and association, I will. Because remember, I’m the good one.

I’m going to make you remember that I hold all the cards. I’m going to make you like it. Maybe not now. Maybe not tomorrow. But you don’t have a choice. You’ll like it eventually.

Adabelle U. Ekechukwu is a 1L. She graduated from Harvard College in 2014 as an active member of Pleiades Society and co-captain of the Varsity Women’s Track and Field team.

Letter to the Editor: 1L Reflection

This time last year I was finishing up my pre-law life. I had no conception of what law school, let alone Harvard Law School, would really be like. I couldn’t get time off work to come to an admitted students weekend, so the large blanks in my imagination were blurry, made up of whatever I could glean from books, friends and the internet.

From the outside, law school was alleged to be a vicious environment, where study groups evaluated résumés and the curve set everyone on edge and against each other. Professors stalked the classrooms, obsessed with humiliating the weak students, socratically eviscerating the unsuspecting and unprepared.

But of course, it wasn’t really like that. Perhaps I’ve been lucky in my experiences; I certainly feel that way. After all, there’s only one Professor Hanson. How can we ever thank him, our section leader, sufficiently? The deft fashion in which he bonded us together and set a high bar of mutual support and love will forever be my model for effective leadership. Or Professors Frug, Lahav, Gersen, Goldsmith and Wu, whose occasional piercing cold calls were so clearly borne out of a genuine and abiding passion for the subject, and the desire to instill knowledge in us, that it never stung too badly, if it hurt at all.

Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: 1L Reflection”

More Harvard Lab Cruelty Exposed? Enough is Enough.

Ever wondered what happens to animals in laboratories?

A whistleblower has just leaked photos and allegations of animal abuse at a Harvard lab. If you’re thinking, “Haven’t I heard this one before?” it’s because you pretty much have. The source, a Harvard Medical School (HMS) insider, reached out to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The whistleblower describes HMS experimenters injecting mice and rats with caustic materials, and killing and decapitating the animals.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, PETA then secured correspondence between HMS and the National Institutes of Health Continue reading “More Harvard Lab Cruelty Exposed? Enough is Enough.”

HLS Affinity Groups to Dean Minow: “Upstand” For Your Muslim Students

On Thursday, April 21st, one of our classmates woke up to defamatory allegations and a barrage of hate mail following the Tzipi Livni event. Some of these allegations linked to articles she had written in the past. Some found and posted her picture online. Some went so far as to demand that her recently awarded fellowship be revoked. All called her an anti-Semite.

In addition to the cyber harassment and threats, some of our classmates confronted her about her involvement in an event that she did not attend and knew nothing about. She was targeted for no reason other than her affiliation with the Muslim Law Students Association.

Continue reading “HLS Affinity Groups to Dean Minow: “Upstand” For Your Muslim Students”

Conquering Cold Calls

“Ms. Everett.”

My heart thumped; my stomach jumped; and I felt my face heating up. I knew it. Just like 1L. I knew I’d get called on the first day again. Here we go. I looked up at her, signaling I was ready for the inescapable interrogation.

“Ms. Everett. How is the Freedom of Religion Clause implicated in this case?”

“You mean like what does it say?”

She stepped forward. My voice had compromised my position in the auditorium, and she focused her gaze. “Yes. What is the Freedom of Religion Clause? What does it say?”

“Well, um, it says. It says that Congress can’t establish…” Wait. Is it that Congress can’t make a law that establishes a certain religion? Or that it can’t prohibit someone from practicing …  “Um. The government can’t make one religion…” Crap. Now my voice is getting all shaky. Just read, Angel. Continue reading “Conquering Cold Calls”

An Open Letter to the Harvard Law Review: Break Open HLS’ Inner Ring

Dear Editors of the Harvard Law Review,

In 1944 at the University of London, C.S. Lewis gave a speech entitled “The Inner Ring,” in which he warned the audience about a perennial human failing that would not be unfamiliar to Harvard Law School students a half a century later. In the speech, he described how inside any community — in “whatever hospital, inn of court, diocese, school, business or college you arrive” — you will find Inner Rings: exclusive internal communities on which you find yourself on the outside.  If you break into any of the Inner Rings, Lewis explains, you will find “that within the ring there [is] a Ring yet more inner.”  To Lewis, the desire to enter the next Inner Ring — and the terror of being left outside — is one of the dominant forces in our lives. Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Harvard Law Review: Break Open HLS’ Inner Ring”

When a perceived injustice breeds injustice

Fighting against injustice means saying something that might be unpopular. Fighting against injustice means saying something that could—actually will—offend some. So today, I stand up to say that the anti-Semitism claim against Husam El-Qoulaq, although an understandable initial interpretation of a perceived injustice, should henceforth retire. Our community has irresponsibly relied on an isolated use of the word “smelly”—rather than on context, conversations, and attempts to discern the intent behind El-Qoulaq’s actions—to substantiate this claim. This faulty dependence is a threat both to our sense of community, and to the ethical standards to which we should hold ourselves as future lawyers and future leaders. Continue reading “When a perceived injustice breeds injustice”

Where Are Ringling Elephants Really Headed?

On May 1, after more than a century of featuring elephants in its shows, the Ringling Bros. circus will wrap up its very last shows with these majestic animals. We’re told that the elephants are being “retired,” but where are they actually going?

While SeaWorld recently pledged to stop breeding orcas, Ringling has made clear that, though it will no longer use elephants in traveling circus acts, it has every intention of continuing to use them as breeding stock at its Florida compound— Continue reading “Where Are Ringling Elephants Really Headed?”

Letter to the Editor: Do not rush to judge Husam El-Qoulaq

To the editor:

I am a Jewish 3L classmate of Husam El-Qoulaq who would also like to remind readers not to rush to judge Husam.

I will start by distinguishing myself from other recent signatories. I believe that the State of Israel is the most moral government in the world, a government that has shown its unwavering commitment to human rights even in the face of endless provocation from Palestinian terrorism. I also believe the disproportionate criticism and demonization of Israel is a sign that anti-Semitism is still very alive and growing in 2016.

Nevertheless, as someone who has known Husam for quite some time and as someone who has had the opportunity to discuss Israeli-Palestinian issues with him on several occasions, I am very confident in saying that Husam is not the anti-Semite the online world is trying to make him out to be. Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: Do not rush to judge Husam El-Qoulaq”

Letter to the Editor: No double standards for free speech

To the editor:

There is no free lunch in the marketplace of ideas. Whenever we share our thoughts, downside risks are created. Some charge headlong into the breach of public scrutiny, while others prefer the relative safety of anonymity.

Recently, there was an alleged anti-Semitic insult hurled at an Israeli politician by an HLS student. The administration attempted to help the student avoid further embarrassment for his careless remark by censoring footage of the event; the Harvard Law Record assisted in this regard by deleting comments on the original letter that named him.

Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: No double standards for free speech”

Civil Jury Trials Are Fast Becoming Extinct

As any trial judge or trial lawyer knows, the number of trials has been decreasing dramatically since 1986.  This is occurring in both state and federal courts, in all venues and in most kinds of cases.  It has occurred in both criminal and civil cases, but for different reasons; and in both jury and nonjury civil cases for similar but not identical reasons.

The general public is unaware of this trend because of the increasing fascination with trials on television and in the movies.

While no one denies that civil jury trials could soon become extinct, there is little agreement on the reasons for this.  Some have suggested that there are fewer civil trials because the rules of civil procedure encourage the use of pretrial discovery rather than the trial itself, to reveal what really happened, that after discovery is complete, an expensive trial is superfluous.  However, it was in the late ‘80s that civil trials began to decline, and the liberal discovery rules were operative long before then.  Nor did anything happen around that time to make trials more expensive.

In federal courts the decline coincides with the Supreme Court’s 1986 decisions instructing trial courts to grant summary judgments unless the plaintiff proves the probability of his allegations.  It is clear that those decisions and other judicially created obstacles to trials were the products of the “lawsuit abuse” movement that gave us so-called “tort reform, securities law reform, antitrust reform, class action reform and patent reform.”   Continue reading “Civil Jury Trials Are Fast Becoming Extinct”

An Open Response from a Law Student for Life

Sarah Gersten’s Open Letter raises several important points relevant to the conversation on abortion. A genuine pro-life perspective always includes a deep and abiding concern for every mother’s welfare as well as every child’s. Ryan Bomberger’s speech this past Tuesday sought to address the problem of disparate abortion rates within the black community, rather than the problem of sexual violence, but the Law Students for Life would agree that the latter merits serious discussion. We are glad to see the increase in discussion around abortion and related topics within the Law School over the course of this semester, and hope that these conversations continue into the coming academic year.

Continue reading “An Open Response from a Law Student for Life”

A Letter in Support of Husam El-Qoulaq

To the editor:

We, the undersigned Jewish students and recent alumni, write in support of our friend and peer Husam El-Qoulaq, and to condemn the efforts we’ve seen to defame his character.

At a recent panel on Palestinian-Israeli negotiations (which notably featured no speaker representing the Palestinian cause), Husam spoke out in protest, as he often does.

To add some context that has gone largely unreported, the target of Husam’s protest that day was Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli Foreign Minister. Livni played a key role in Operation Cast Lead, a 23-day military operation that was condemned by the U.N. and other credible organizations for the brutality it visited upon Palestinian civilians. In 2009, a British judge even issued a warrant to arrest Livni on allegations of war crimes for her involvement in that operation.

Over the years, we’ve seen Husam experiment with many forms of engagement on this issue, from handing out informational fliers to asking pointed substantive questions at events. Earlier this semester he tried a different tactic, calling a male Palestinian speaker a “smelly liar.” He did the same with Livni, asking her during a Q&A how it could be that she was “so smelly.”

We understand those who criticize Husam’s words as disrespectful, reckless, or inappropriate, and we know that he would probably agree with all of those critiques. But based on our own personal experiences with Husam, we reject the charge that our friend is an anti-Semite. Knowing Husam, we could all see that his aim was more mischief than malice. He said more about this in an apology he posted in The Record:
Continue reading “A Letter in Support of Husam El-Qoulaq”

Are U.S. election laws becoming better for voters who support alternatives to the two big parties?

The United States has many laws and habits that make it difficult for voters to organize new parties, or to support independent candidates.  These include severe ballot access laws, discriminatory campaign finance laws, and candidate debates to which only the Republican and Democratic nominees are invited.  An additional problem that only relates to presidential elections is found in Article II of the U.S. Constitution, which says that the Electoral College chooses the President.  This means that someone who places second in the popular vote can still take the office.  Worse, if no one gets a majority of the Electoral College vote, the U.S. House chooses the President, with each state’s delegation having one vote.  The Constitutional provisions relating to presidential election are themselves a major barrier to independent presidential campaign activity.

Happily, there has been progress during the last 30 years to ease one of these problems, the ballot access laws.  Ever so slowly, the number of signatures for a newly-qualifying party, or an independent candidate, to get on the ballot has been decreasing as a percentage of the electorate. Continue reading “Are U.S. election laws becoming better for voters who support alternatives to the two big parties?”