Dean Minow alerts alumni to “possible hate crime”

Dean Martha Minow

H/t Ed Whelan. Because, despite 33,000 hits so far on our blog, apparently she’s worried that a few alumni might not yet have heard of the November 19 “hate crime” incident.

As Mr. Whelan points out, her e-mail to alumni contains “[n]o hint it’s likely a hoax,” even though there is overwhelming evidence (summarized on this blog) to that effect, and even though¬† one of her colleagues published an op-ed in the New York Times acknowledging the hoax scenario.

For the non-alumni of this school who apparently are fascinated (and/or repelled) by the November 19 incident and are closely following the fiasco which seems to be unfolding in its aftermath, here is Dean Minow’s e-mail:


Dear alumni of Harvard Law School,

I write to update you on recent events here on campus relating to important issues of race, diversity, and inclusion.

As you may know, students in universities across the nation, including here at Harvard and Harvard Law School, have raised concerns about racial bias in our communities, and in higher education, including in the structure of academic institutions and pedagogy. Last year, after the events in Ferguson and Staten Island, we began here important conversations to address these concerns. This fall, some of our students requested that Harvard Law School’s shield — adopted in 1936 and based on the family crest of Isaac Royall, a slaveholder whose bequest established the first professorship of law at Harvard — no longer be used. Several days ago, our community was shocked and saddened by the defacement of the portraits of some of our African-American faculty in Wasserstein Hall. The Harvard University Police Department is investigating this as a possible hate crime. The outpouring of support for these faculty members has been a heartening reflection of the community that I know and love so deeply.

We are dedicated to discussing these matters as a community and to focusing our collective creativity, knowledge, and commitment on the problems and questions raised by these local and national events. The issues — ranging from serious questions about the operations of criminal justice in many jurisdictions to ways Harvard Law School could do more to enable all our students to thrive — deserve our attention and hard work. I have convened community meetings to give our students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to share experiences, perspectives, and responses, and I have reported on some of the initiatives we have undertaken beginning last year to address some of these issues — including developing our programming and expanding our faculty focused on the criminal justice system, enhancing our orientation programming, and, more recently, appointing a working group to consider our use of the Royall shield. For more on our work, I include below the message I shared with our students, faculty, and staff last week, and more information about the¬†shield working group can be found here.

We at the Law School will continue to meet as a community and in working groups, and I look forward to the proposals, ideas, and engagement these conversations will generate. I invite and welcome your participation in our ongoing discussions and also in the vital work of mentoring our students as they consider their career paths and opportunities during this critical time for our profession. Together, we are reminded of the work we must do, and will do, to build communities — here at Harvard Law School, and throughout our nation and our world — in which all can flourish.



Martha Minow
Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor




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