The chairman of the ad hoc faculty committee reviewing the Harvard Law Review's affirmative action policy said the faculty's "likely response" to the recent policy recommendations by the Review affirmative action committee would be to severely hinder the journal's selection process.
In a letter to Mark B. Helm '78, president of the Review, Detlev F. Vagts '49, Goldston Professor of Law, said Wednesday the faculty would probably end the Law School's traditional practice of sending the grades of top first-year law students to the Review and possibly end the faculty's "moral commitment" to assist the Law Review's writing competition if the committee's policy were adopted by the Review staff.
However, James Vorenberg '49, dean of the Law School, said yesterday it would be "hard to speculate what the faculty would do" if the Review staff adopted the committee plan.
Affirmative Action Policy
The Law Review staff voted Wednesday to adopt a "race-conscious" affirmative action policy, a policy that would actively take the race of candidates for the Review staff into account when selecting members. The staff postponed a decision on which specific policy it would adopt until December 2, but the only "race conscious" policy that has been formally submitted to the staff is the Review committee's proposal.
The Review committee's plan would allow students competing for the Review under current procedures to submit an essay on any "economical, societal, or educational obstacles" they have overcome in their education for the membership committee's consideration.
Currently, students may be elected to the Review staff either by having the top grades in their class or through a writing competition.
The Review committee's plan would also allow students to compete for membership by submitting a "note", an article suitable for publication in the journal.
Michael B. Reuben '73, executive editor of the Review, said yesterday, "it would be logistically possible" for the Review to continue to select editors on the basis of their grades, but added, "It's never been done before."
Reuben added that the Review could certainly continue the writing competition without faculty assistance. He said, however, "We would rather have the faculty since they are better graders."
Vagts said in an interview yesterday that the committee plan "has all sorts of problems with it that not all race-conscious plans need have."
One of the faculty committee's major concerns was that minority students with non-competitive grades could join the staff solely on the basis of their personal essay.
Vagts said, "There would be enormous pressure on the committee to select Blacks when none are qualified."
The faculty would probably favor race-conscious selection if it only applied to students competing for the Review staff through the submission of notes, Vagts said.
Howell Jackson, a Review editor, said Wednesday that he was considering introducing such a plan. Jackson originally opposed the adoption of a race-conscious plan in favor of a "race-neutral" option that would not have taken applicants' race into account during the selection process.
The Review staff already approved two race-conscious plans last February but withdrew them after the Law School faculty asked the Review to reconsider.
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