Editor’s Note: The Editor, Michael Shammas, wrote a response to this piece. You can read his response here.
While I have limited objection to the Committee decision to recommend the modification of the HLS shield, I have difficulty treating the decision-making process as legitimate given its broader social context, regardless of (true) protestations to the contrary. But the shield is ultimately not a significant concern of mine. Far more concerning are the broader implications of the insurgency which has essentially forced the Committee’s hand, and the mushrooming of similar insurrections in the haloed halls of this nation’s “academic” institutions.
I am all too familiar with social settings dominated by dogma. The shadowy feeling out for intellectual comrades, the tentative sharing of fringe opinions and careful observance of elicited reactions. The relief when one finds such comrades, and the fear when you’ve misjudged and shared too much. Most of my intellectual development took place in such a dogmatic context. When I came to Harvard, I came expecting an exciting intellectual journey in a more honest environment. But alas, all too frequently I experience myself in a church masquerading as an academic institution. The canon of principles making up church dogma. The certitude of conviction as to what is just and what is good, as if God himself has manifested so in the Wasserstein Revelation. The lip service commitments to ideals like diversity, another naked emperor clothed by a delusion quickly dispelled by one wrong comment in a class. The snickers and smirks of impartial professors and obsequious students describing “other” views condemned by history, willfully ignorant of the likelihood that they too will be condemned by history.
Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: The Belinda Bullies”
To the editor:
When the pressure drops in the cabin of an airplane, we are instructed to first put our own masks before reaching out to help those next to us. The lesson we are supposed to learn from this is simple: If we want to help others we must first ensure that we are in a safe space. The world is in turmoil. Currently today there are an estimated 20,900,000 people living in slavery, over 5,000,000 more than the amount of slaves that crossed the Atlantic Ocean. 5% of the world’s cotton is picked by slaves in Uzbekistan, Nestlé uses child slaves to make its candy bars, and more likely than not all our cellphones contain metals that were mined by slaves in the DR Congo.
Before we can address any of those issues we must first put on our own mask, so that we can breathe easy in a safe space. We must create a school where all can go to class without worrying about other people making judgements about our character simply because of the way we look. We must allow our students to take classes that aren’t currently offered here, but that they want to take. We must remove all symbols of past slavery at our school, so that we once and for all can learn in a comfortable environment.
Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: We must solve our own problems first”
We have a confession to make. We, Harvard Law School’s Justice for Palestine (JFP), are the organization responsible for the highly controversial pizza order that cost the law school (and its students) an annual $250,000 in funding for student activities.
For the uninitiated, the “Milbank Tweed Student Conference Fund” (or Milbank Fund, named after the multinational law firm that endowed it), was established in 2012 to support the activities of student-run organizations at Harvard Law School. The Dean of Students office allocates the funds through an open application process. As part of the arrangement, Milbank Fund recipients are required to recognize the contribution by ensuring that all promotional materials for Milbank-funded programming include at least one reference indicating Milbank as a headlining sponsor.
At the start of this semester, HLS announced, without explanation, the sudden termination of the Milbank Fund. We are writing today so that the record may reflect that the termination of the Milbank Fund is, in fact, completely our fault.
Continue reading “HLS Took a Stand for Palestine Programming; Students Must Now Bear the Cost: The Story They Don’t Want You to Hear About What Happened to Milbank Funding”
Dear Dean Minow,
I write to you as a member of the Student Government at HLS. The reasons for this open letter are two-pronged. The immediate point relates to the lack of accountability on part of the officers of the Student Government. The long-term one concerns the institutional integrity and place of the Student Government, as an effective channel of communication between the student body and the administration.
Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Dean”
To the editor:
On December 11, The Record published a letter to the editor called “On the HLS Crest,” which begins:
“All peoples throughout history have held other humans as slaves . . . . Purging the Royall crest of waving wheat does not eliminate slavery or hate.”
The argument in the letter is that slavery is ever present, that everyone makes mistakes, and that changing the crest is to “stomp down the good act of someone long dead who may have owned slaves.”
The letter proceeds by making sweeping statements, intended to minimize the evil of any one slaveholder’s actions, to erase the unequal impact of slavery, and to chastise those who wish to change the shield for their lack of mercy and gratefulness.
Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: In Response to “On the HLS Crest””
Thank you for running Chris Green’s thoughtful piece calling out SeaWorld’s PR spin. SeaWorld’s business model—like so many of the orcas it has exploited—is dead.
Orcas are enormous in both size and brain power. In the oceans where they belong, orcas swim vast distances every day and lead rich, complex lives. Keeping them in worlds that can be measured in gallons is ethically indefensible. They know they aren’t supposed to be in SeaWorld’s barren tanks, performing silly tricks for dead fish. It’s little wonder so many die far short of their natural lifespans. Continue reading “Letter: SeaWorld Should Move Orcas to Sea”
Early this morning, the faculty, staff, and students of Harvard Law School woke up to the defacement of the portraits of all current and former black professors on the walls of Wasserstein Hall.
As far as we know, the defacement of these portraits is still being investigated by the Harvard University Police.
Earlier last night, student activists created an educational art exhibit where they placed tape on the crests of Harvard Law School in Wasserstein Hall and posted facts about Isaac Royall, Jr. Black gaffer tape was used so that it would not leave any residue. Some of this tape was later taken off the activist art exhibit and used to cross out the faces of black professors.
Continue reading “Statement from Royall Must Fall”
I owe my existence to England letting in Holocaust refugees. I feel so sad that our state wants to keep refugees out now.
I had thought that everyone learned a lesson from the Holocaust. The U.S. turned away Jewish refugees, leaving many of my people to die in concentration camps. How can states wish to do that again?
Alene Anello is a third-year student at Harvard Law School.
Re: “Delving Deeper into the SeaWorld Hype”
Thank you for running Chris Green’s thoughtful piece calling out SeaWorld’s PR spin. SeaWorld’s business model – like so many of the orcas it has exploited – is dead.
Orcas are enormous in both size and brain power. In the oceans where they belong, orcas swim vast distances every day and lead rich, complex lives. Keeping them in worlds that can be measured in gallons is ethically indefensible. They know they aren’t supposed to be in SeaWorld’s barren tanks, performing silly tricks for dead fish. It’s little wonder so many die far short of their natural lifespans.
SeaWorld can develop protected coastal pens where the orcas can be transitioned. There, the animals could have greater freedom of movement; the ability to see, sense, and communicate with their wild cousins; to feel the tides and waves; and have opportunities to engage in the behaviors that they’ve long been denied. Viewing platforms would allow the public to see and appreciate these animals for who they are, not interchangeable “Shamu’s.”
By moving forward into a future that doesn’t include keeping ocean dwellers in swimming pools, SeaWorld wouldn’t have to paint concrete blue to make its business more palatable to the public.
Ms. O’Connor is a senior writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The Hunting Ground is a documentary. Documentaries, like other mediums of advocacy journalism, give those who have been silenced in other forums a chance to speak. The creators of The Hunting Ground gave survivors a chance to tell their story, which is a different task from courtroom advocacy, though no less noble. Documentary filmmakers must tell their subjects’ stories in a way that honors their trust, as it takes bravery and trust to share one’s story on camera. And, unlike courts, documentaries are free to explore evidence in more depth and detail. They do not include presumptions of guilt or innocence, and both filmmakers and audiences are free to make credibility determinations.
Continue reading “A Defense of The Hunting Ground and Other Non-Legal Advocacy”
This article was submitted by the author as a response to Bill Barlow’s recent op-ed, “Fascism at Yale.”
“What does it require for a subperson to assert himself or herself politically? To begin with, it means simply, or not so simply, claiming the moral status of personhood. So it means challenging the white-constructed ontology that has deemed one a ‘body-impolitic,’ an entity not entitled to assert personhood in the first place. . . . One has to learn the basic self-respect that can casually be assumed by Kantian persons, those privileged by the Racial Contract, but which is denied subpersons. . . . One has to learn to trust one’s own cognitive powers, to develop one’s own concepts, insights, modes of explanation, overarching theories, and to oppose the epistemic hegemony of conceptual frameworks designed in part to thwart and suppress the exploration of such matters; one has to think against the grain.” – Charles Mills, The Racial Contract 118 – 19 (1997)
It is in Mills’ tradition of political assertion that we should read unrest on campuses today. Students are demanding recognition of their claims to knowledge about their own social experiences and broader structures of oppression, but beyond that they are demanding justice (which is not to suggest the two are distinct). Across the country and world, students are agitating for change. Whether it’s Mizzou, Yale, or Capetown. And somewhere in the bowels of the White Dude Thinkpiece Establishment, Jonathan Haidt, Greg Lukianoff, Conor Friedersdorf, and others sit and wonder where it all went wrong. Kids these days can’t take the heat of intellectual challenge, asking to be coddled on campus, and it’s hurting them psychologically. This is part of Haidt and Lukianoff’s conclusion in the “Coddling of the American Mind,” approvingly cited by Friedersdorf in his latest dismissive commentary on student activism at Yale. This view seems to be getting a lot of uptake in the media and among a wide swathe of diverse sorts of (mostly) white people—young, Ivy-League white people; old puffy white people; white people who would be happy to explain why you’re wrong and they’re right.
But who’s really being coddled here? Continue reading “In Response to Bill Barlow’s “Fascism at Yale”: Who’s Being Coddled Here?”
To the editor:
Prior to and during my time at Harvard, I have been concussed multiple times in my hockey career and have suffered severely as a result. Despite double digit brain injuries, I made the decision to continue playing and understood the risk that I was taking. For me, the negatives of repeated injury are outweighed by the countless positive experiences that sport provided. After my last concussion on January 9th, 2015, I was left reeling from symptoms and was forced to retire; yet, if I could go back in time to when I first laced up my skates, I would not change a single thing. When I was concussed, as miserable as my symptoms were, ranging from the cognitive to the physical, nothing could cheer me up more than the rink, my sport, and my teammates. This value of athletics is intrinsic and serves as an outlet and an identity for athletes around the globe. Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: Former Crimson Hockey Defenseman Defends Contact Sports”
Students at Harvard Law School are calling for a change to the school’s seal, which incorporates the family crest of HLS benefactor Isaac Royall, one of the biggest slaveholders in colonial greater Boston. I’ve often heard people react protectively towards the historic names on buildings, street signs, and other institutions, saying that you can’t try to erase a piece of history just because you don’t like it. I agree on the surface, but as a historian and museum professional who studies how we create and perpetuate public memory, I cannot ignore the fact that we as a society erase or paint over pieces of history all the time. Just as photographs can never be fully objective because something is always left out of the frame, public memory is a process of constant choices. There’s simply too much history to commemorate all of it all of the time, and what we commemorate changes. What’s important is that we as a society choose wisely when we honor people from the past. Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: Royall Must Be Recognized, Not Revered”