About 25 law students held a silent vigil yesterday outside a meeting in which the faculty was reportedly voting on offering feminist legal scholar Catharine A. Mackinnon a tenured position.
The students, who were fewer in number than usual because of a bar exam for third-years, lined the hall way in Pound Hall, holding signs supporting Mackinnon's candidacy.
Mackinnon, who currently teaches at the University of Michigan and was a visiting professor at Harvard in 1980 and 1983, is a controversial figure due to her outspoken views on women's rights.
Students were not hopeful that Mackinnon would receive two-thirds of the vote, which she would need for an offer of tenure.
"I've heard she'll get a majority but not the two-thirds required," said first-year law student Catherine Caporusso. "I'll keep my fingers crossed anyway, but I'm not optimistic."
"From what I've heard of the rumors, her chances are not good," said second-year law student Linda J. Dunn, co-chair of the Women's Law Association.
In an interview yesterday, Mackinnon said she did not know what was transpiring in the process.
"It isn't regarded as something in which I'm a participant," she said. "I do my work and they make their decision."
She did hope that she was given a fair review.
"I hope their decision is made on my work, not my street rep, which is often maccurate," she said.
Faculty members interviewed after the meeting refused to comment on what had happened.
Students were not sure whether Mackinnon would accept an offer from the Law School.
"We have no idea why she would want to come here," first year law student Jennifer M. Hooper said.
But Mackinnon said she would carefully consider an offer, despite the Law School's problems with diversity on the faculty.
"I would seriously consider [an offer], and the problems it has are one thing I'd consider," she said.
"It's my view that there are good people on the faculty who see [the lack of diversity] as something that needs to be addressed," Mackinnon said.
"She's a controversial candidate that does research that's progressive and those two factor mean didacy is controversial," second-year law student Raul Perez co-chair of La Alianza, the Hispanic law students association.
Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz, who has been an outspoken critic of Mackinnon was quoted last week by the Harvard Law Record as saying that she "plays so loose with facts, data and statistics that she doesn't pass scholarly muster."
Today, Dershowitz took one of the signs in support of Mackinnon that students were passing out, and said, "I'm happy to take it but I'm going to throw it in the trash.