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Law School Dean Robert C. Clark recently sent letters to faculty members, urging them to hold classes during today's student strike for greater minority representation on the faculty, faculty members said yesterday.
In the letter, Clark told the professors not to cancel classes, stressing the importance of academics and requesting to speak with any professor who was thinking about canceling classes.
Protest organizers said earlier this week that they were successful in convincing some faculty members to agree not to teach today. They said other faculty members were going to hold classes to make the students' protest more powerful. Now, student protest leaders are uncertain whether Clark's letter will intimidate professors or encourage resistance.
"At least one professor who was not going to cancel class is going to because of the letter," said Marie E. Arnold, the Women's Law Association representative to the Coalition for Civil Rights (CCR), an organization composed of all the minority student groups on campus.
Tomorrow's demonstration is part of a nationwide protest by law school students. The movement was started three years ago at Boalt Hall, the Law School of the University of California at Berkeley, and 50 schools are expected to participate this year.
About two weeks ago, student representatives to the Coalition for Civil Rights (CCR), an organization composed of all the campus minority student groups, sent Clark a list of five demands that outlined a plan for a morediverse Harvard law school student body andfaculty.
Some students involved in the strike said thatthey are more upset that Clark never responded totheir demands than they are about the dean'sletter.
"He could have talked to us before he wrote aletter," said Marie E. Arnold, the Women's LawAssociation representative to the CCR. "Thestudents at his law school are going on striketomorrow and he has not responded."
Arnold also said she felt Clark's action wasconsistent with his philosophy of a good lawschool education, which emphasizes academics muchmore than activism.
"He has this philosophy of the school and thestudents don't figure into that philosophy," saidArnold. "We want more than just a degree out ofthis place."
Professor of Law Paul C. Weiler said thatClark's action was not so unusual given hisposition as dean.
"Deans are never enchanted with the idea ofcancelling classes," said Weiler, who said thateven if he were teaching classes tomorrow, hewould not cancel them
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