(p. A23) In May , Harvard College announced that it would not renew the appointment of me and my wife, Stephanie Robinson, as faculty deans of Winthrop House, one of Harvard’s undergraduate residential houses, because I am one of the lawyers who represented the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in advance of his coming sexual assault trial.
. . .
. . ., the administration capitulated to protesters. Given that universities are supposed to be places of considered and civil discourse, where people are forced to wrestle with difficult, controversial and unfamiliar ideas, this is disappointing.
Harvard has been silent in other disappointing ways. Not long ago, I was taking my 9-year-old son to school when we saw that “Down with Sullivan” had been spray-painted on the wall abutting our home. I had to explain to my son that representing unpopular clients serves an important constitutional role in our democracy and that I had done nothing wrong. As you might imagine, it was hard to see my son read that piece of graffiti.
. . .
. . . I am profoundly troubled by the reaction of university administrators who are in charge of student growth and development. The job of a teacher is to help students think through what constitutes a reasonable argument. It is a dereliction of duty for administrators to allow themselves to be bullied into unprincipled positions.
Unchecked emotion has replaced thoughtful reasoning on campus. Feelings are no longer subjected to evidence, analysis or empirical defense. Angry demands, rather than rigorous arguments, now appear to guide university policy.
This must change. Until then, universities are doing a profound disservice to those who place their trust in us to educate them.
For the full commentary, see:
(Note ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date June 24, 2019, and has the title “Why Harvard Was Wrong to Make Me Step Down.” The online version says that the New York print version appeared on p. A25. The article appeared on p. A23 of my National print version.)