Harvard prof + lawyer Ronald Sullivan Jr. has every right to represent accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in his sexual-assault trials. But for him not to understand that he therefore cannot serve as head of a student house at Harvard is a sign of just how removed elites are in America.
Harvard announced on Saturday that Ronald Sullivan Jr. and his wife Stephanie Robinson, who is a lecturer at the law school, would no longer continue as faculty deans of Winthrop House, one of Harvard’s residential houses for undergrad students. In 2009, the couple became the first African American faculty deans in Harvard’s history.
The decision not to renew the appointments of Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Robinson as faculty deans won’t impact their positions at the law school, where Mr. Sullivan is the Jesse Climenko Clinical Professor of Law and the director of the Criminal Justice Institute.
IMO students often exaggerate the traumas that make up their daily lives -- like having to move in 7th grade for example -- because dad's plant is closing and his new job is an hour away. Dem. candidate Ohio Rep Ryan cited his daughter's friend's trauma in announcing his presidential bid. That is hogwash and the road to Venezuela, for Ryan to argue that having workers’ kids in schools in reason for the family not to pursue jobs elsewhere, when a plant closes.
But there is no way I could feel comfortable with my housing head representing Harvey Weinstein -- as Weinstein himself agrees that he was a total degenerate, sexual predator bad boy. His point is that over 100 women knew the deal they were getting into with him, if they wanted a career in Hollywood.
Exactly what moral and ethical point Prof Sullivan is making -- putting Weinstein first -- is obviously an important one to him. But the message he send to his young students under his mentorship is one they justifiably rejected in significant numers.
Those students were led by Harvard student Danu Mudannayake, 21 years old, and a visual and environmental studies student in film production at Harvard College.
Student protests were led by Danu Mudannayake, a London film student at Harvard and an activist staffer for The Harvard Crimson. The British student of Sri Lankan origin claims that she was unwillingly filmed by Winthrop House resident tutors Carl and Valencia Miller, who are supporters of Prof Sullivan. The Crimson reported:
Danu A. K. Mudannayake ’20 — an Eliot House resident — and Winthrop senior tutor Carl L. Miller gave differing accounts of a confrontation between the two of them in the dining hall Wednesday. Mudannayake, who is also a Crimson design editor, said she approached Miller after he allegedly took photos and videos of her while she ate dinner with a friend. Miller and his wife Valencia Miller both wrote in emails that Mudannayake allegedly harassed and provoked him as their family ate.
Miller wrote in an email that he filed a report with HUPD after an “obvious provocation” from Mudannayake, per House protocol.
The Crimson reported on Friday “that issues with Sullivan and Robinson’s leadership of the House began years before Sullivan announced he would represent Weinstein. Tutors and staff said that the pair targeted staff who reported concerns about the deans to administrators and that the deans created a difficult work environment. “
Shortly after Sullivan announced his decision to represent Weinstein, he and his wife and co-faculty dean Stephanie R. Robinson assembled House staff for the Jan. 27 meeting. During the meeting, he openly berated then-Winthrop tutor Katie B. Kohn, accusing her of organizing students against him and Robinson, and read from a prepared statement defending his representation of Weinstein, according to Kohn and Winthrop tutor Priya Shanmugam, who both attended the meeting.
The 2020 presidential candidacy of former Obama Vice President Joe Biden has put the Anita Hill ‘trial’ during the hearings for now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the limelight. Biden’s leadership of the committee was sorely lacking, and Hill continues to speak out on the subject.
It must be noted that at the time of the Anite Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, large numbers of African Americans supported Clarence Thomas, even though his political views were diametrically opposed to their own.
In Friday’s Harvard Crimson article, similar inferences are lodged against other members of the Harvard administration, with staffers at Winthrop House alleging “that Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, Dean for Administration Sheila C. Thimba, and former Dean of Students Stephen Lassonde have also been aware of issues within Winthrop’s walls for several years and did not adequately address what more than a dozen current and former Winthrop students and staff deemed a toxic climate. “
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face,” begins the Eleanor Roosevelt quote once hung on Anita Hill’s door. “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Trump and US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are busy rolling back every protection for women on college campuses. Sullivan Jr. must be viewed as part of that process -- in the SC Justice Thomas tradition.
When it comes to sexual assault, we must not start siding with men, although the new abortion restrictions all over the south say that women must pay the legal fees of men they accuse of rape, unless the court convicts. Would you accuse?
This trend takes us back to the 1960s, as part of Trump's Make America Great Again agenda. But Harvard doesn't have to go there with Prof. Sullivan Jr. I have no idea if he's a Dem or Repub. It doesn't matter. Period. ~ Anne
Related: Anita Hill: Let’s Talk About How to End Sexual Violence The New York Times