Are you entitled to believe anything you want to believe, special Harvard Law students? Sure. Why not? Believe away, kids. But you are not entitled to have someone else pay for it. And that cost HLS $250,000 in annual student activities funding.
We have a confession to make. We, Harvard Law School’s Justice for Palestine (JFP), are the organization responsible for the highly controversial pizza order that cost the law school (and its students) an annual $250,000 in funding for student activities.
For the uninitiated, the “Milbank Tweed Student Conference Fund” (or Milbank Fund, named after the multinational law firm that endowed it), was established in 2012 to support the activities of student-run organizations at Harvard Law School.
Milbank’s contribution is, indeed, exceptionally generous. Oops. I meant, “was.”
In our defense, we couldn’t have possibly foreseen how our actions would come to affect the rest of the campus community. On the eve of our first-ever Milbank-sponsored speaker event, titled “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack”, the only thing we were really concerned about was what type of food to order for our fellow classmates. Like many others, we are an organization that recognizes the value of quality food as a major key to the success of any lunch talk.
No, they were not having pizzas delivered to hungry Palestinians. It was for their own benefit, to entice hungry students to tolerate their program for free pizza. Having once eaten dinner at a Hare Krishna temple in Amsterdam when the money ran dry, I can understand it.
Even though we had only used Milbank’s money for the pizza (our speakers, two civil rights attorneys and an undergraduate student, graciously offered their time at no additional cost to the school), we held up our end of the deal by including, in all promotional e-mails and at the bottom of the event’s official Facebook page, some iteration of the following sentence: “This event is brought to you by the generous support of Milbank LLP.”
Okay, so Milbank’s generosity had a catch to it. Still, they didn’t have to donate. While the rule was that any group enjoying Milbank’s largesse had to show a little gratitude, Milbank wanted nothing to do with this group, and demanded that its name be removed. Even though it was post hoc, the group almost agreed. Almost.
In exchange for a written guarantee that JFP’s future funding (be it from Milbank or any other source) would not be adversely affected, we agreed to remove the sentence from the Facebook event page. Though that guarantee was promised to us, we never got it.
Yes, you read that right. This is what entitlement looks like in the minds of Harvard Law School students of the social justice persuasion. And Milbank, because it’s a mean old law firm, plus it was giving the friggin’ money, was not about to negotiate with this future master of the universe.
Turns out, that’s because our request was directly incompatible with what Milbank was demanding. Administrators would later reveal that Milbank had gone so far as to demand that JFP’s Milbank funding be rescinded completely. According to Dean Minow, this was not a demand her administration could honor, so Milbank decided to pull out all of its annual $250,000 in student activity funding as a result of her administration’s “principled stance” in support of our right to speak openly and honestly about Palestine.
Milbank’s demand put Dean Martha Minow in a terrible quandary. Either accept the terms of the donation, and suffer Melissa Click screaming at her from Harvard Yard, or take the “principled stance” of acquiescing to every snowflake’s right to pizza.
Moving forward, Harvard Law School should take efforts to minimize the potential for meddling from its donor overlords.
This is an incredibly easy thing to accomplish. Ask your mommy and daddy to put up a quarter mil every year so you can indulge your entitlement. Problem solved.