After students whined about a faculty dean — who is also an attorney and law professor — who is defending Harvey Weinstein, Harvard University caved.
Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and his wife have been the faculty deans of Harvard’s Winthrop House for the past 10 years, according to The New York Times. Since 2009, there have been no complaints about the couple, who were the first African-American deans at Harvard.
“But when Mr. Sullivan joined the defense team of Mr. Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, in January, many students expressed dismay, saying that his decision to represent a person accused of abusing women disqualified Mr. Sullivan from serving in a role of support and mentorship to students. Mr. Weinstein is scheduled to go to trial in September in Manhattan on rape and related charges,” the Times reported.
Harvard students apparently can’t separate the law from their feelings, and so Sullivan had to go. Administrators conducted a “climate review” of the residential house. As the Times reported, students even staged a sit-in and filed a lawsuit over the situation. Finally, Rakesh Khurana, Dean of Harvard College, caved.
“Over the last few weeks, students and staff have continued to communicate concerns about the climate in Winthrop House to the college,” he wrote in an email to Winthrop House students and staff on Saturday. “The concerns expressed have been serious and numerous. The actions that have been taken to improve the climate have been ineffective, and the noticeable lack of faculty dean presence during critical moments has further deteriorated the climate in the house. I have concluded that the situation in the house is untenable.”
The controversy highlights a growing problem with current and recent college students: The belief that due process is an impediment to justice.
Because Weinstein was accused of sexually assaulting and harassing women, he doesn’t deserve representation, and any attorney who would represent him must be painted as problematic.
Harvard students should be taught that their feelings are misplaced and that they should have respect for the rule of law, the right to representation, and how to distinguish between an attorney doing their job and a faculty dean doing theirs.
Fifty-two current and former professors at Harvard Law School had signed a letter supporting Sullivan.
“We call upon our university’s administration to recognize that such legal advocacy in service of constitutional principles is not only fully consistent with Sullivan’s roles of law professor and dean of an undergraduate house, but also one of the many possible models that resident deans can provide in teaching, mentoring, and advising students,” the professors wrote.
The professors also wrote that they respect the students’ right to protest “Sullivan’s choice of clients.”
“But we view any pressure by Harvard’s administration for him to resign as faculty dean of Winthrop, because of his representation or speaking on behalf of clients, as inconsistent with the university’s commitment to the freedom to defend ideas, however unpopular,” they concluded.
Colleges and universities continue to give in to the demands of student mobs, who will not be subjected even slightly to views and ideas they disagree with nor learn to cope with unpleasant things in the real world.