Harvard Law School professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. has taken a role on the defense team of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Now some students are protesting and calling for his firing.

Stephanie Ebbert reports at the Boston Globe:

At Harvard, Harvey Weinstein is now a cause for concern

To witness all the tumult, you might think Harvey Weinstein had just moved onto Harvard’s campus.

That is not the case.

But the news that the disgraced Hollywood producer has chosen for his legal “dream team” a faculty dean of one of Harvard’s residential houses has unleashed a wave of concern on campus.

Holding signs that said “Harvard Doesn’t Care” and “Down with the Dean,” students protested outside the president’s office in Harvard Yard on Monday, demanding that the administration immediately remove Winthrop House faculty dean Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. from his position.

“It is absolutely morally unacceptable,” said Hilda Jordan, a Harvard senior who was among about 40 students protesting, many wearing tape over their mouths. “Harvard, we want to see you do better. We want to see you hold your administrators, your deans to the same standards that you are attempting to hold your students.”

A recent op-ed in the Harvard Crimson comes right out and demands that the school drop Sullivan. It was written by two students whose bios appear at the top of their article:

Danukshi A. K. Mudannayake ’20, a Crimson Design editor, is a Visual and Environmental Studies concentrator in Eliot House. Remedy Ryan ’21 is a Social Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality concentrator in Lowell House. She is an organizer with Our Harvard Can Do Better.

They write:

Harvard, Remove Dean Sullivan

On Jan. 25, The Crimson reported Winthrop House Faculty Dean Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr.’s decision to defend in court Harvey Weinstein, the man whose infamous sexual misconduct and assault of over a dozen women initiated the #MeToo movement in 2017. In the following week, Sullivan upheld his choice to represent Weinstein through an email addressing the Winthrop community.

Subsequent reports revealed Sullivan has also come out in public support of Harvard professor Roland G. Fryer, Jr. against allegations of sexual harassment from female employees. In his comments about Fryer’s case, Sullivan disparaged both the #MeToo movement and Harvard’s Title IX procedures, calling the University’s investigations “deeply flawed and deeply unfair.”

Sullivan’s actions and statements are unfitting of a faculty dean. We condemn Sullivan’s decision to represent Weinstein and defend Fryer while serving as a Winthrop faculty dean. We further condemn the Harvard administration’s inaction in light of these actions.

We believe deeply in every defendant’s right to attorney. But there are many lawyers who could have defended Weinstein.

This controversy began to stir at the end of January, when Sullivan made the decision.

At the time, I mentioned that Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz faced some push back in the 80’s when he decided to represent Claus von Bülow. In the 1990 film “Reversal of Fortune” there is a scene where Dershowitz explains to an angry student why he is doing it:

Perhaps Harvard could arrange a screening for the student protesters.


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