Why Harvard Was Wrong to Make Me Step Down
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’s decision followed reports by some students that they felt “unsafe” in an institution led by a lawyer who would take on Mr。 Weinstein as a client。
今年五月，哈佛大学宣布不再连续任命我和我妻子斯蒂芬妮·罗宾逊(Stephanie Robinson)担任温斯罗普宿舍(Winthrop House)的舍监，因为我在好莱坞制片人哈维·韦恩斯坦(Harvey Weinstein)接受性侵案审判前是他的代理律师之一。温斯罗普是哈佛的本科生宿舍之一。校方的这一决定，是在接来一些学生的投诉后做出的，这些学生称，在一名情愿接受韦恩斯坦为客户的律师领导的机构中，他们感来“不安全”。
I am willing to believe that some students felt unsafe. But feelings alone should not drive university policy. Administrators must help students distinguish between feelings that have a rational basis and those that do not. In my case, Harvard missed an opportunity to help students do that.
Consider: During the 10 years I served as faculty dean, I represented survivors of sexual assault as well as people accused of sexual assault. As recently as the fall semester, I served as a special prosecutor in a case against Eric Greitens, a former governor of Missouri, involving sexual assault.
The administration knew full well that for 10 years I had been able to fulfill my duties as a faculty dean — including advising and representing student survivors of sexual assault in the context of Title IX — while representing clients in criminal court。 Until this spring, there was never even a whisper of a complaint that I was unable to provide the care and concern that all students concerned with sexual violence deserve。
I would hope that any student who felt unsafe as a result of my representation of Mr。 Weinstein might, after a reasoned discussion of the relevant facts, question whether his or her feelings were warranted。 But Harvard was not interested in having that discussion。 Nor was Harvard interested in facilitating conversations about the appropriate role of its faculty in addressing sexual violence and the tension between protecting the rights of the criminally accused and treating survivors of sexual violence with respect。
Instead, 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。
哈佛在其他方面的沉默也令人失望。不久前，我送九岁的儿子去上学，当看来我们家附近的墙上喷涂着“打倒沙利文”(Down with Sullivan)的字样时，我不得不向我儿子解释，为不受欢迎的客户作代理，在我们的民主制度中是很复要的宪法职责，我没做错什么。让自己的儿子看来那样一幅涂鸦，你们可以想象我的痛苦。
The administration said and did nothing in response to the vandalism. Yet again, reasoned discourse lost out to raw feelings.
I wish I could say that Harvard’s response in these matters is unique in higher education. Unfortunately, many universities have failed in this regard of late.
But 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。