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Dissatisfied with Harvard's turnout in a nationally coordinated demonstration for minority faculty hiring last year, Harvard Law students are calling for a boycott of classes to coincide with tomorrow's nationwide protest, and are asking their professors to help by cancelling classes.
One year ago, students at 36 law schools around the country protested the underrepresentation of minorities and women on their faculties. While the turnout for such demonstrations included up to half the student body at many schools, only 200 of the approximately 1700 students at Harvard participated in a sit-in a Langdell Hall.
This year, Harvard protest organizers said they expect as many as 500 students to join the boycott, and attend a rally and teach in instead of scheduled classes. In the afternoon, demonstrators will march down Mass Ave.
The leaders of the movement say they have been somewhat successful in their attempts to persuade professors to cancel classes tomorrow. Some professors, however, have said they prefer to hold their classes anyway, so that the boycott will make a greater statement, according to protest organizers.
Ursula V. Dudley '88, one of the protest's organizers, said this year's demonstration stemmed from frustration with recent progress on women and minority faculty hiring.
"Our society does not consist of 90 percent male, 10 percent Black male, nor 8 percent white female," said Dudley. "Consequently, the Harvard Law School faculty should not either. Our goal is to reach normalization [a reflection of the distribution in society] within the faculty, student body, and the classroom."
Just two weeks ago, members of the Law School's Coalition for Civil Rights (CCR), an umbrella organization comprising all the campus minority student groups, sent Law School Dean Robert C. Clark a list of five demands, according to CCR members.
The letter called for a revision of the criteria on which tenure decisions are based, appointment of a student to the minority faculty hiring committee, integration of minority issues in the first-year curriculum, appointment of a student to the admissions committee and closer examination of the hiring practices of law firms that recruit at Harvard.
The nationwide protest movement began threeyears ago at Boalt Hall, the law school at theUniversity of California at Berkeley. On thatcampus, notorious for its history of studentactivism, several hundred students staged asit-in, resulting in numerous arrests by the endof the day.
"They make life unpleasant for a while, but Icertainly don't think that [last year] they hadany impact on our continued efforts [to hireminorities]," said Boalt Hall Dean Jessie H.Choper. "No one's happy with the numbers, but Ithink it's going to be a process that will takesome time; one has to keep working."
This year, 10 to 20 more schools are expectedto participate in the nationwide demonstration,organizers said.
A recently released list of Harvard's 13visiting professors for next year--which includesnine women and one Hispanic--has apparently notchanged the minds of many of the students who willprotest tomorrow.
"The whole visiting professor thing seems likea way to appease the masses." said Mark T.McGoldnick, a member of the Disabled Law StudentsAssociation. "It's a whitewash."
Although the Law School invites many visitingprofessors each year, most of them are not givenformal tenure offers
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