For only the second time in its 98-year history, the prestigious Harvard Law Review has elected a female president, Review editors announced yesterday.
Second-year law student Carol S. Steiker '82, who last year led a campus movement to boycott the Review, beat out 11 other candidates to claim the highest position on the staff of the student-run journal.
The runner-up in the election was the only other woman on the ballot, said Robert D. Fram, the outgoing president.
Steiker last year organized a petition calling on the Review to change its controversial practice of selecting some of its editors on the basis of their first year grades alone. At the time, Steiker criticized grades as arbitrary and inappropriate criteria for Review membership.
More than 400 first year students signed the petition, pledging to withhold their grades from the Review if 75 percent of their classmates promised to do the same.
The petition fell several signatures short of its goal. In the wake of the protest, however, the Review voted to abandon its system of selecting members solely on the basis of grades, adding increased weight to a writing competition.
Steiker acknowledged, however, that her first year grades led to her initial selection to the Review under the very selection, process which she disputed.
Not a Mandate
Steiker's role in the debate over selection policy, though, was not an issue in her election as president Review editors said.
"Her election was not a referendum on the selection process. She was selected simply on the basis of her abilities," Fram said.
"I do not see my direction as a mandate or even an opportunity to further amend the selection process," Steicker said.
Long Way to Go
Associate Professor of Law Susan R. Estrich a 1977 graduate of the Law School and the only other woman to serve as head of the Review said she was pleased at Steiker's election. But, she added, "I look forward to the day when its no big deal at all to have a woman serve as president."
Estrich said that her selection in 1976 made her a celebrity at the time. She received widespread media attention, including an appearance on ABC-TV's Good Morning America and an article in People magazine.
Steiker said that although "it was probably much tougher for a women to get elected nine years ago," she still feels that her election is "very important since the Law School remains a male dominated place."