April 13 e-mail 1 from Laura Dellatorre


From: Laura Dellatorre [ldellatorre@law.harvard.edu]

Sent: 4/13/2007 6:29:01 PM

To: section1 09@hlssun1.law.harvard.edu

Cc: Martha Minow,csharkey@law.harvard.edu,heymann@law.harvard.edu

Subject: Letter to Dean Kagan Re: The Anonymous E mail

Dear Section 1,

I am enclosing a letter that several section members have written to Dean Kagan regarding the anonymous e mail that was sent to the class during Criminal Law on April 6th.

We will meet with Dean Kagan during her office hours on Monday April 16th at 2:15 pm. We’ll present the letter and our concerns about the use of Harvard technology in the context of this email and the AutoAdmit website.

We’d love to get as many Section 1 folks to join in as possible — please let me know if you would like to add your name to the letter to the Dean and if you’d like to join us on Monday when we present it to her.

Thanks for your support!


Laura Dellatorre
Harvard Law School
J.D. Candidate, 2009
(301) — —- [phone number omitted from web post]

(Following is the text of letter)

April 13, 2007

Dean Elena Kagan
200 Griswold Hall
Harvard Law School

Dear Dean Kagan:

We are writing you to express our anger and disappointment at the proliferation of Internet-based hate speech at Harvard Law School, and at the institutionalized unwillingness to engage in meaningful dialogue about questions of social inequality.

On Friday, April 6, a student(s) in Section One sent out an anonymous email to the entire section during a discussion of probable cause and racial profiling in our Criminal Law class.  The email directed us to two different websites, one with the lyrics of a song written by the rapper Chamillionare and the other with a video of his song. The email and the websites asked us to take an image of the excesses of one black man in a rap song as evidence of the habits of typical black men in real life.  It thus asked us to take fictional representation for reality, and to base our ideas of constitutionally protected rights on this faulty substitution.  Both the tone and substance of the e-mail were dismissive and racist. The student used the ease of Internet anonymity to lower the level of class discussion, and foreclosed honest and open debate by hiding behind a dummy e-mail address.  The email sent to our section thus engaged in the same kind of hate speech so prevalent on websites like autoadmit.com, where women, ethnic and racial minorities, and gays and lesbians are routinely mocked and derided.

Unfortunately, this e-mail and the general culture of anonymous hate speech on the Internet are symptomatic of a much larger problem at the law school. The structure and content of the curriculum implicitly affirms these prejudices through its pervasive silence about issues of race, gender, sexuality, or class.  The 1L curriculum, for example, has no codified space for any discussion of these issues, and this absence creates the impression amongst the student body that such issues are unimportant or irrelevant to legal education.  As a consequence, when students in our section attempt to initiate discussions of race, gender, sexuality, or class, they are regularly silenced: professors and students are unprepared or unwilling to listen or engage.

Therefore, in response to what has become an increasingly intolerant culture at Harvard Law School, we believe the administration should make the following changes:

* Diversify the faculty by hiring more people of color, women, and gays and lesbians, and by hiring faculty whose scholarship integrates questions of social inequality.

* Reform the 1L curriculum to include consideration of social inequality by having 1L courses taught by professors whose scholarship is sensitive to these issues.

* Institute a yearlong speakers series focused on social inequality in the legal profession.

* Circulate a statement to all students defining hate speech and making clear that the law school prohibits the circulation of such speech through its email lists.

* Establish a code of ethics for classroom discussion and email exchange.

* Require each student to sign an Affirmation of Values, such as the one required of all students at Harvard Business School (see attached).

We hope that you and other members of the administration join us in recognizing that the culture of Harvard Law School is becoming increasingly intolerant and alienating. We also hope that you and other members of the administration recognize how crucial your influence can be in changing that culture.  We came to Harvard Law School because it promised to be a place where all individuals were equally welcome, and we continue to believe that Harvard can and will deliver on that promise.



Adora Asonye


Laura Dellatorre


Naomi Reed


Sarah Rodriguez

(Following is the “Community Values” statement of Harvard Business School)


The HBS community defines itself by and actively embraces three fundamental values:

* Respect for the rights, differences, and dignity of others

* Honesty and integrity in dealing with all members of the community

* Accountability for personal behavior

Developed through a student led initiative, these clear, simple principles underlie our strong sense of community at HBS. They help create a lively, open, inspiring atmosphere for learning and growth, and they represent the bedrock standards effective leaders instill in their organizations and uphold in their daily lives. Everyone in the HBS community — MBA students, executive program participants, faculty, staff, and alumni — accepts a personal responsibility to integrate these values into all aspects of their experience at HBS.

Posted on the wall of every classroom, our values come through clearly in how we conduct ourselves and treat each other in and out of class. Ethical issues are also woven deeply throughout our curriculum, teaching, and research. More than 500 current HBS cases focus explicitly on a range of ethical questions entangled, as in life, with other business issues; faculty use them to help students grapple with the troubling tradeoffs and dilemmas real managers sometimes confront.


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