Shortly after ending their occupation of the dean of the Law School's office yesterday afternoon, more than 50 students, most of them Black, joined with 100 supporters and called for increased hiring of minority law professors at a rally outside Harkness Commons.
As a slight drizzle fell, the crowd chanted, "Diversity is the way! We won't wait another day!" and then listened to speeches by professors, protesters and representatives of several minority student associations at the Law School.
"Every night the complexion of Harvard changes when it's time to vacuum and clean the bathroom," said Visiting Professor from Practice Charles J. Ogletree Jr., one of the school's five Black law professors. He called for a reevaluation of the school's plan for hiring minority faculty, and all the speakers decried what they termed the University's apathy in regard to increasing the number of minority faculty members.
"We have reached a moment now where the ball is in [the faculty's] court..."said Robert D. Wilkins, the president of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and one of the leaders of the occupation. "They need to have a vision. They need to have a plan. They need to have a package. You do not take on any serious task without a plan."
"This is definitely a significant day," Wilkins said. "This is a significant day for Black Americans, Native Americans, Latin Americans, gay and lesbian Americans, for all Americans."
Representatives of various minority student associations affirmed their solidarity with the BLSA-sponsored sit-in. "School administrators always try to split us up, but we are unified," said Brant P. Lee, a second-year law student and the president of the Harvard Asian-American Law Students Association.
Assistant Professor of Law Clare Dalton, who was recently denied tenure and is considering suing the University for gender discrimination, made a brief appearance at the rally to express her support for the student protesters. "I feel a great deal of joy, a great deal of encouragement, and I feel as if the struggle is in good hands," she said.
"Whatever the University says and whatever the Harvard Law School press puts out about the institute being committed, at this point, is bullshit," said Mona Washington, a second-year law student who participated in the day-long occupation. "Harvard has the money, Harvard has the pull. There's no excuse."
Several speakers said that the current lack of minority faculty prevents thorough coverage of certain topics in the curriculum. "It's sad that every class in every section has to borrow [Randall] Kennedy, [Charles] Ogletree, [Derrick] Bell, or [David] Wilkins" in order to teach discrimination law, Ogletree said, naming four of the school's five Black law professors.
As the rally reached completion, the protesters joined hands and chanted in unison: "The people, united, will never be defeated!" and continued chanting as they marched around Pound Hall and returned to Harkness Commons.
The rally ended shortly before 4 p.m., and then three of the students who organized the sit-in held a press conference.
Wilkins, the BLSA president, said he felt the sit-in and the rally were very successful and announced that Dean of the Law School James Vorenberg '49 "specifically agreed to going ahead" with seven of the 12 student demands.
"This is only the beginning," Wilkins said. "All of us have to continue to act to be successful."