Support of Harvard Law Professor Ronald S. Sullivan

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Harvard Law professor Ronald S. Sullivan is the first African American Faculty Dean in the history of Harvard University. His dedication to the professional tradition of providing representation to people accused of crimes and other misconduct, including to those who are reviled is second to none.

For the past ten years while serving as Faculty Dean of Winthrop House, Professor Sullivan has represented alleged victims of sexual assault as well as people accused of sexual assault, murder, and terrorism. We call upon our University’s Administration to recognize that such legal advocacy in service of constitutional principles is not only fully consistent with Sullivan’s roles of law professor and dean of an undergraduate house, but one of the many possible models that resident deans can provide in teaching, mentoring, and advising students. The University owes a robust response to allegations of sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct. We respect students’ right to protest Professor Sullivan’s choice of client. But we view any pressure by Harvard’s administration for him to resign as Faculty Dean of Winthrop House, because of his representation or speaking on behalf of clients, as inconsistent with the University’s commitment to the freedom to defend ideas, however unpopular. We cannot help but also note that this type of action taken against him has never been done previously in the history of Faculty deans the majority of which have been white men and women.