Dec. 5 notes

[Royall Asses’ notes from meeting with left-wing faculty on Dec. 5, 2015; cut and pasted from Word file; typos in original; annotations in brackets; all hyperlinks & bolding added]


Kenneth Mack: property/critical race theory, history capitalism, history of economic regulation

Chris Desan: Civ Pro, Money/Globalization

John Hanson: Corporations, Torts, Justice Lab, Systemic Justice

Mack: yesterday was great. Didn’t like Monday, thought it was awful. But gave us a chance to think about what we wanted to say. Thought about speaking yesterday, but we said everything he’d want to say. Email discussion among faculty after Monday (which we got). Last couple of days thinking of different ideas about what HLS can do that a bunch of faculty would sign onto. Have run idea by lots of people, [Todd] Rakoff, Ron Sullivan, Stephanie Robinson, TBN [Tomiko Brown-Nagin], and if emailed more more would say yes. Think we can get 20 faculty involved. Don’t want to displace/co=opt/interfere with what we want to do. What was good about yesterday is we were saying we want to be a part of the process going forward. Propose ideas, and if we want to think about it great, if unappealing they accept that too. Initiative should stay with us.

What would faculty get behind and what would allow faculty/us to do the work that we’re saying we should do and that a lot of factuly agree we should do, just don’t have time to do. Ideas about initiative that we should help define/initiative, but structures in place for multiyear initiative that we can present to Dean. Moment of opportunity. Everyone (dean Minow, Faust) thinking about whats going to happen next. Lots of people aware of what’s going on, we’ve produced a bit of a crisis. Initiative with courses, student work, clinical work, be creative, get a lot of people to sign on.

Not sure what “it” is. Would love to put it in our hands to get university, law school, dean behind with us in the driver seat.

DEsan: You guys created a crisis and congratulations it’s a great crisis. Question is how we can use it. WE were listening and we get the message that it is all of our responsibility. Energy and capacity to take what we produced beyond Harvard. Would like to propose a social justice initiative. Use Harvard’s huge potency in the world (biggest) to make a real educational and legal difference.

So, idea is students here spend 3 months thinking about/debating/selecting substantive area for social justice reform (mass incarceration, police reform, etc). Debate about which area to choose as primary would be really educational/expose problems and ideas about how to act on them. Then, students would pick a target. Would take the work outside the school. School/faculty would commit to taking on those problems with you: offering classes, realigning clinicals, having conferences, connecting with people on the ground.

This is the idea discussed, but no consensus on how to do it.

Example police violence would draw in faculty from lots of areas: crim, poverty law, behavioral law/econ, etc.

Everyone we’ve talked to has been enthusiastic about doing this. Thinking major commitment by school, real resources, long-term (5 years, 5 million dollars). Scholl should commit before we choose our target. Bottom line: sense that we could get somewhere in terms of reform by working together.

Long history at Harvard of fragmentation, everyone splitting up and working hard on what they think is important, very divided – so this time, bring everyone together and working with us.


Echo congratulations, really important crisis/growing awareness of our problems. Don’t want to waste this opportunity/crisis.

Views are a little more complicated, so turned it over to Jacob

Simmi [Kaur, Royall Ass # 24]: Critical thoughts – we didn’t create the crisis, just wanted to get admin to acknowledge, and we have to agree on that from the very beginning. Can we use HLS potency internally and not just internally? Nothing in your proposal talks about our internal problems. Creating a niche program about sexy topic like mass incarceration doesn’t address internal problems.

C [unclear; probably either Christian Williams, Royall Ass #6, or Collin Poirot, Royall Ass # 37]: are we a justice school? Agree with Simmi. 1L curriculum not there and only there later if you look for it. Hypocritical if HLS still felt unbalanced but we’re trying to get other law schools to follow us. Mandatory changes so that these issues are there for everyone not just those who seek it out.

Reena [Karefa-Johnson, Royall Ass # 22]: shifting resources into the real world is something I’m very open to. Part of the issue is a lack of trust. Lot of professors who have been practitioners,worked on capital punishment/defense, show up for black defendants but not for black students. Requires some level of commitment from faculty to show up for students so we can feel like were on equal footing looking out.

Would want what were doing to be racial justice oriented explicitly. Squeamishness about that is part of the problem. Not just about economic inequality.

Desan: agree that the world created the crisis. We didn’t let it get swept under the rug. Otherwise would be business as usual. No internal change proposal because we’ve made that. This is something else, and not a niche proposal – get the whole school to sign on, say we have the muscle at HLS to do this. In addition to what we’re doing. Annette Gordon Reed said she taught crim/police investigations for 17 years pre-harvard and stopped teaching it, but would pick it up again. 1L curriculum comes down from the top, could get that in addition to this. This is about an opt in

Derecka [Purnell, Royall Ass # 1]: My semester this year would be a model of that curriculum: evidence, gov lawyer, police in minority communities. Irresponsible to get those professors to opt in, doesn’t account for our demands (without diversty training, choosing to forgo racial conversation and instead take on technical issue). Irresponsible to jump to that, already doing this program to an extent, and we want students getting into the real world but want to do more to actually train them. Program would have tocome with serious training/hiring conversations/student training.

Mickey [Belaineh, Royall Ass # 10]: internal vs external. All agree we have a real moment, and don’t want to do something like this about buy in/opt in and have school say look at what we did, and not look internally and not own ourselves. Doesn’t seem like this program speaks to that

Titi [Rasaki, Royall Ass # 39]: general feeling is we’re not trying to preclude this idea, but saying that until/unless we get our house in order and get our demands implemented with pedagogy and contextualization and racial covnersations (implemented and mainstreamed, not just opt in/something to search for). Until that takes place, cannot face out and tell other people. Monday Dean Minow pointed to things that do not substantively mean anything for the culture/academic environment that is HLS/student experience. Have to get to heart of institution (addressing legal precedent/education) before we can move forward.

M [unclear, probably either Mawuse Hor Vormawor, Royall Ass # 2, or Mickey Belaineh, Royall Ass # 10]: Agree. If house was in order, everyone would say this was a great/important idea. We all know the real world is burning and we have power we should wield. But want to be/have to be careful. If this idea was put forward without first acknowledging/agreeing with the other things we’re talking about, other students/admin would just say yes, let’s do that instead. About strategy and power of professor voices compared to ours. Great idea, but would have to be done strategically and carefully. Worry about faculty proposing an idea so different than ours – spoiling tone of what we’re talking about (structural problems that perpetuate themselves b/c were never at the problem to explain what they are, why they’re wrong, how to fix)

Shay [Johnson, Royall Ass # 19]: concern about how/when this would be implemented. Could be a great idea, but more so a manifestation of something HLS could have after we get our demands covered here. Something a lot of people in this room would be willing to work on, and the committee we proposed would be a great body to work on it. Great opportunity for 1L curriculum – problem centric vs law centric which is good and would be great for 1Ls to get the training to effectively participate in that program. Big enough to have 7 big areas (econ inequality, racial injustice, etc) with clinic and then capstone 3L would be great. Could be built into curriculum, use PSW for training for this program, in a way a lot of faculty wouldn’t oppose. Maybe even after bicentennial, roll this out, could be great if there are mandatory parts in every eyar interwoven, and gives us time now to work with admin on the other demands.

C [Christian Williams/Collin Poirot?]: power of faculty voices – really happy you’re here and want to talk to us. Great idea and can be great for us. Because you have the power you do, if youre going to work together on something great place to start is to stand with us and say that. Tough to say something more publicly, but to build the trust you’re talking about, would be great for a contingent of faculty to say things you’ve said here in a more public way.

Reena [Karefa-Johnson, Royall Ass # 22]: aware of culture of faculty, bizarrely traitorly for you to stand with us in this moment. Mack email – said we shouldn’t bow down to student demands not about consumerist model. You guys have been here longer than us and haven’t taken the initiative to do these things. We don’t want to integrate into the system, I have more faith in the students than faculty to get this done. Hirign committee – could advocate for students to be on that committee. Help to understand to what level we think the problems are the same

Hanson: so much of what is said echoes my thoughts/feelings/concerns as much as I love the idea and it resonates with efforts we’ve made before. I hear that youre asking for our direct support, not indirect support or alternative ideas. Want us to stand by them and say we agree there’s a problem and it needs to be addressed in a serious way. Given history and trust, makes a lot of sense. I say that as an effort to reach out again and say can we reach out to faculty for direct support.

Kids w/ diabetes one broke his thumb. Wrogn to think of this as a broken thumb and think about how to make a cast. This is an autoimmune disease, constant struggle, testing/retesteing, adjusting as you try to be a substituve for non-working pancreas. That’s the nature of this problem that we need to commit to recognize that the problem is more or less permanent (200 year) and we need to be on it constantly. Lets not just try a solution but build an institution committed to continually trying/improving.

Peyton [Lee, Royall Ass # 28]: we don’t just want you to endorse the demands we’ve put out. Lots of questions we have about how to make things happen, our best guesses for changes. Ready to have a conversation that shifts those. We’ve probably rubbed faculty the wrong way in how we’ve asked probably because we haven’t talked to you about it. Staff have called us on making the demands reflect what they’re actually saying. Demands we’ve thought a lot about, but reflection and conversation with you all would help with adjusting/building trust. So, we want not just an endorsement but the conversation. Whatever the proposal looks like, a project like you proposed would have tremendous support. People here are part of SPOs/clinics that do a lot of work outside this school. Hope is to change default away from having to opt into using the law for positive change. Examine our defaults – tax/bankruptcy, EIP, firm.

Titi [Rasaki, Royall Ass # 39]: about collaborating with you guys in a partnership. You have the instituioanl knowledge for how to logisticall make a critical race program, for example. One criticism we keep hearing is creating a 1L curriculum is academic freedom – how do we negotiate that/alleviating qualms while making sure that structural change still happens?

Victoria [last name currently unclear]: building off Peyton. You’ve probably read demands and know staff are incorporated – make sure youre aware of how strong/important alliance with staff is for us. Your initiative doesn’t have much of a role for staff beyond being incorporated in some way. Think more about how staff can be involved so no student/professor only. And, in your initiative is something we could latch onto. Things don’t hapeen in isolation, lots of fragmented efforts to address these problems in clinics spos etc. Your initiative sounds like getting the whole school on board. Not a conversation that just goes one way hopefully would come back and affect the school as well. Would be a good conversation that pushes in the right direction, but we need to start to fiz things here and then look out a bit and have

Rathna [Ramamurthi, Royall Ass # 38]: help us see what has been done

C [Christian Williams/Collin Poirot?]: staff could get fired, students have been directly attacked. Your voice can go a long way to insulate and not silence our voices. Want to make sure you have a chance to respond

Shay [Johnson, Royall Ass # 19]: we have outreach teams here that will be reaching out to various groups

One question: would faculty be willing to work with our teams here? Demand teams within our group – would faculty be willing to work with those teams?

Could there be enough faculty interest in each demand (some interested in one vs others have certai expertise) to meet with students and staff to help develop strategic plan to admin by set date/end of they year for admin to buy into?

Would faculty be willing to commit to regular meetings with students/staff to get ball rolling on the demands?

Desan: we don’t represent the faculty. Faculty is very willful, goes there on way. We can try to mobilize groups, but can’t tell them what to do. We also don’t represent the administration. Agree with concern that something like this will displace our demands, which it shouldn’t. Only want us to take this and build into it our demands. We’re thinking of this as contextualized learning – put real world in center of what we’re doing. Hard to make people do stuff – no one controls what I do in Civ Pro. Idea was instead put a big problem in there and get people to work on it. A lot of people would want to work on it, and don’t want to be in a dysfunctional place. Lots of good energy and intentions. Don’t blame you if you don’t see it but it’s there. Mistake to focus internally. Find a way to work demands/inside the walls stuff into the rest. Place doesn’t change fast, is a frustrating place to work. Hard to be in a monitoring and oversight capacity,better to lead. Can you imagine some way to use this proposal to lead people to you/into the change you want to see?Pity if you don’t want to do it, but personally will endorse the demands.

Mickey [Belaineh, Royall Ass # 10]: asked for typed up version of proposal

Desan: yes, rough notes that have been going around the faculty.

Mickey [Belaineh, Royall Ass # 10]: talk about weight you have with faculty at large. One of our demands is bringing in crit race program. Asked Mack stance on critical race theorist/program.

Mack: Said it in a faculty meeting. Want to put together critical race teory position. Got two crit race theorists to visit in the last 10 years. Neither has been voted on by faculty, don’t know what happened to them. We get lots of others through, but somehow our 2 leading crit race theorists didn’t get through.

Asked to explain committee: his hires people who have not been teaching (crespo). Other committee determines visitors and who gets hired. So mack recommended inviting 2 crit race visiting professors.

Desan: we have a very conservative faculty which you guys know.

Mack: institution is hard/complicated. Minow should want to have a student/faculty/staff committee to work through the issues we’ve raised.

Reena [Karefa-Johnson, Royall Ass # 22]: that’s in the demands

Mack: yale has some kind of committee (did it last spring). What you guys want, it’s a big and complicated institution, need a forum to talk to faculty/staff and work it out. If my collegauges really thought I was a crit race theorist, I wouldn’t be running the committee. Desan/Hanson have never been on the committee

Hanson: thank god

Mack: having a student on my committee would be hard. People wont agree. 90 people on faculty have to get 2/3 of people who show up (quorum) to vote for an appointment. Its complicated. Might be a good idea. One person making a lot of noise would stop it. You need a mechanism to think about the institution the way Jon described it. Institution has a way of reproducing itself and accommodating changes without changing.

Titi [Rasaki, Royall Ass # 39]: 2 things I noticed in your explanation: dean is appointing people to these committees/in control of what that looks like. Professors have said they are only here because of student activism. So what can we do to make sure you vote the way we want? If we shut this down, theyre going to vote a certain way, so why are we making it sound impossible?

Next to keandra [Levingston, Royall Ass # 29]: does the voting happen this way at all schools?

Desan: faculty governance has steadly diminished since 1992. Bob Clarke (anti Christ) had way more faculty governance. Kagan took all control and was incredibly autocratic, destroyed all faculty governance. Using centrist/right power, hired lots of laterals w/o notions of faculty traditions/governance including real debate/change. Martha has left that in place

Guy in corner: Who are these people and could Martha change it?

Reena [Karefa-Johnson, Royall Ass # 22]: How did kagan reduce the governance?

Desan: one thing was being much more selective of who got put on committees (no dissenters).

Mack: Guinier was on committee that hired Mack. Hasn’t been on a committee since then.

Desan: Clarke believed there should be debate between crits and faculty, lots of student activisim. Had to have dissenters on the committees for process to be legit. Whatever ground won by student acticism left with him (pre-Kagan)

Hanson: 20 faculty members who could get back to the proposal, reasonable as of $5 million. Huge collected effort. Then when we got serious about your proposals, faculty engagement disintegrated into the three of us. Understand that you can do much more with the support of 20 faculty members and 5-10 million dollars, and all that input. History of Bob Clarke is history of undermining the progress that had taken place through student activism where faculty/students had each others backs (some faculty). We cant say the system is broken/unfixable if we’ve seen it different in other circumstances. Elena did a good job of palcating the people she was undermining (volleyball nets, tampons in the restroom, hark). These things said something to students they hadn’t heard – made a lot of friends by buying them off and we’re now dealing with the debt from those decisions.strategic use of student activism is important, and we also need activism among the faculty. I want Ken on the hiring committee, but I want him to be out.

Desan: Agree.

Hanson: we’ve bene waiting forever to do this.

C [Christian Williams/Collin Poirot?]: don’t want this to be our last conversation. Would hope the group will grow and more faculty could show up at least for the conversation. We can’t really fix things/be strategic activists without understainding these things that you’ve old us, ecause no one tells us/is comfortable telling us.

DEsan: I think a lot of faculty would come

C [Christian Williams/Collin Poirot?]: Publicly saying most of these demands are reasonable. Would hope/think we need you to have our backs in the sense of validating the conversation. Moment after Kennedy’s piece where we needed faculty support. Hanson piece played a huge role, but needed greater support/buy in. Unbearable reaction thtat whether we’re oppressed is up for debate – questions our integrity. We all agree that peope who don’t agree need to be part of the conversation, but we need validation of the brokenness because people are still disrespecting in a very fundamental way. Your voices have the power to help stop that.

Keandra [Levingston, Royall Ass # 29]: as someone who represented BLSA on faculty/student diversity committee. Conversation we had there gave me the sense that it is largely a black box because of privacy etc. So, another angle to add is climenko fellowship and how not diverse it is. System for diversifying faculty, faculty could help us figure out how to do that.

Mack: never seen a POC climenko until Monica Bell. Reginald Lewis fellowship. Why don’t we have POC climenko fellows? Susannah and Adrian Lonnie.

Hanson: Committee you demanded could be thinking about all of these things. And, fellowships for law students over the summer

Mack: Reginald Lewis fellowship is not the same prestige as climenko. CLimenkos (some) have a good shot at getting hired at a school like this.

Derecka [Purnell, Royall Ass # 1]: thanks for sharing history of Kagan administration/regime. Quesiton about student activism: afraid to move forward b/c we need so much buy in from faculty/admin. But seems like story here has never had support for student activists before they decided they needed change. Curious about faculty buy in. Legitimate fear of wasting this potential revolution b/c we’re trying to find allies when we already have people here. How much support was going on during student activism?

Desan: lots of faculty buy in/activism in the 80s. Misfortune to be born in the quieter 90s (dead). What happens at school very dependent on whats happening in the world. Very important that this is about race – keep the focus there. All sorts of problems, for example around gender, very concerned about those issues too, but I think part of what happens is there’s some interplay ebtwen generation that’s young/active in the world. When you can get enough faculty activism to support that, I didn’t see that in the 90s.

Derecka [Purnell, Royall Ass # 1]: people are dying. Professors who are opting in. Professors who say most of my cop friends are cool. Dangerous to get thos epeopel to opt in.

Jess [Carballo, Royall Ass # 13]: we keep coming back to committee is a good diea and student/faculty voices need to come together. So how do we get a seat at the table?

Hanson: your power comes from the social moment / illusion law school provides about its commitment to justice and that as its source of legitimacy. Take advantage of evident racism in the legal system and connect that to this law school. Always true that that’s where the power comes from, especially sicne there are liberals in power who want people to think they are committed to justce. Campaign to raise money base don that premise. Get people to the table because they have to respond based on the embarrassment.

Desan/Mack/Hanson: endorsing doing this by making people uncomfortable. That’s how you got here and you have to keep doing it.

Jeohn [Favors, Royall Ass # 15]: we need to be thinking about next steps. Your description of the history solidifies for me where we should direct our focus and the disruption that can/will happen. Ive stood up twice and asked dean minnow to address us. She’s the point person and I don’t feel like we need to have the aolution. Its dean minow’s problem and she needs to fix it.

Desan: take an initiative and make it yours. If you leave it to Martha nothing is going to happen. Manning is going to be dean next. Martha is not going to last more than 10 years especially after Modnay.

Mack: there is another candidate for dean

Titi [Rasaki, Royall Ass # 39]: back to point of where we are directing. We have listed the demands and are thinking critically about packaging solutions. We need to have the backs of the professors who have our backs. Need to be working in tandem. We have more than one person but don’t need folks necessarily to stand behind us. Do we want to take power from the dean and put it into the conservative faculty’s hands? What’s there incentive to not make thigns worse? How do we control that while we’re pushing for change? What directed action do you think would be effective?

Hanson: agree with the concern. Push it down as much as possible – more student involvement. Demand it and don’t accept anytig less than meaningful student involvement and build in making sure it’s the right students as you’ve done. Take this moment to create those structures. Need to get investment of money, space, staff, curriculum, all the things the law school is allocating you need to claim now. Between demands and committee could be fleshed out in a way with a better chance of making real change.

Desan: haven’t gotten anywhere fighting for faculty governance.

Mack: bad idea to have students on hiring committee – think about whole institution

Shay [Johnson, Royall Ass # 19]: changing existing structures here to put students on committees and give weight to their voices. Listed all the committes we’re aware of in our proposal, and asked for student involvement in them. A lot of it is changing the incentive structures.

Derecka [Purnell, Royall Ass # 1]: are there terms for dean to appoint?

Mack: every year the dean appoints people to the committees. She has some flexibility but names the committess thinking about distribution of power within the faculty. Doesn’t mean you cant push her.

Desan: Clarke felt like he had to have some left faculty on the committee to have credibility with the faculty, Elena/Martha know left doesn’t have enough power on the faculty that they have to care about them.