Editors of the Harvard Law Review failed to pass resolutions adding gender, sexual orientation and economic disadvantage as categories for their affirmative action program in a meeting earlier this week.
The meeting Monday night, which lasted six hours and was marked by heated debate, was part of an ongoing effort to review the process of selecting new editors for the prestigious law journal.
The editors rejected the gender and economic disadvantage categories for affirmative action, while the sexual orientation proposal was withdrawn. Editors did agree to collect information over the next three years to enable them to make a more informed decision on the gender and sexual orientation issues.
Law Review President Van L. Nguyen withheld comment on the proceedings until next Monday, when the editors will consider similar issues again.
"We are in the middle of assessing the affirmative action program and the selection policy," he said
The Law Review has had an affirmative action policy since the early 1980s. Currently, 8 out of its 40 incoming second-year editors are selected based on this policy. The remaining 32 are chosen based on grades and performance in a writing competition.
The affirmative action slots are currently open to Black, Asian, Hispanic and Native American applicants, who have to submit a statement about why they believe they are worthy of special consideration.
The people who fill these slots are then chosen by a committee of three editors appointed by the president, who essentially have "discretion" in their choice, according to one editor.
Third-year law student Rebecca L. Eisenberg, an editor of the Law Review, confirmed that her colleagues had voted down the affirmative action proposals, and other proposals relating to changing the selection process.
Eisenberg characterized an internal report commissioned earlier in the year by the Law Review as suggesting that "everyone except white
Eisenberg said she proposed a measure that would get to the source of the problem.
She suggested that the staff hire of an outside consultant to investigate the reasons the Law Review creates an "adverse impact."
This was also voted down.
Calling the result of the vote "a slap in the face," she said she could only think "the white men on the organization would like to keep it as their preserve."
"I was really, really frustrated, disgusted and outraged that the Law Review voted down a proposal to investigate our practices," she said.
"We asked them to change the process. They refused. My question is why," Fisenberg said.
The editors did pass a resolution to work toward dispelling images of the Law Review as a sexist organization
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