Activists from the group Reclaim Harvard Law have begun “occupying” a part the school’s Caspersen Student Center, considered a “major thoroughfare” on the campus.
The students do so, they say, “in an effort to create a space on campus [that] has been denied to minorities at the school.”
It seems RHL is fed up with the university’s response to its demands from last fall which included creating a critical race theory program, hiring more minorities, and changing the Law School’s seal.
In a rather ambiguous statement, law student Rena T. Karefa-Johnson said the sit-in is “about working with each other to implement and build out the things that we can do. This can be an Office of Diversity, this can be a critical race theory classroom.”
Equipped with blow-up mattresses, blankets, and suitcases, the activists have moved into the hall.
On Tuesday afternoon, students drank coffee and talked about diversity and inclusion as Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” played softly in the background. Signs mounted on the walls read “Come talk to us, we don’t bite,” “Critical race theory,” and “Office of Diversity and Inclusion.”
Much of the occupation focuses on activists’ call for the Law School to reframe its curriculum to better integrate consideration of race into the study of law. Karefa-Johnson said she thinks the Law School’s current curriculum often approaches law as if it were created in a vacuum without regard to its implications for minorities.
Activists said they are drawing on an extensive history of activism at the Law School and current movements around the globe to inform and promote their own cause.
Karefa-Johnson said that Law School activists today aim to broaden the scope of their efforts. “This is about HLS, but it’s also about inequality in America,” she said.
Many contemporary students already believe in critical race theory to one degree or another (they may just not know it), so RHL’s concerns in that regard seem misplaced (surprise).
And does anyone take seriously Black Law Students Association VP Shay N. Johnson’s claim that the group just “want[s] people to feel comfortable to come and discuss tough topics around diversity and inclusion”? A group that takes over an area of campus because it doesn’t get its way … and advocates a school of thought that stifles free expression?
UPDATE: This article has been modified to reflect the correction made by The Crimson — the occupied building is the Caspersen Student Center, not Wasserstein Hall. Both are located in the same facility.