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Removal of deans will be a blot on university’s reputation

As a former member of the Harvard Board of Overseers, I write to condemn the university’s recent action removing Winthrop House faculty deans Ronald Sullivan Jr. and Stephanie Robinson from their positions (“Harvard dean in Weinstein case is out,” Page A1, May 12). University administrators have acted on an unprincipled basis, simply responding to student pressure and the public pressure of the moment. They have failed in their educational responsibilities to students and in their larger leadership responsibilities. They have helped create the situation they now characterize as “untenable.” This incident will, and should be, a permanent blot on Harvard’s honor and reputation.

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Elizabeth Bartholet

Cambridge

The writer is a professor at Harvard Law School.

So much for one of the core attributes of jurisprudence

While we do not know the specific details about Harvard’s decision to let go faculty dean Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., the controversy does point to the classic dilemma for the defense attorney. As always, the past offers important insight. Harvard alumnus and future president John Adams, at the risk of his reputation and personal safety, defended a group of British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, at their trial in 1770. Adams did this because he knew the importance of modeling principle and rule of law above personal beliefs. This notion has become a core attribute and foundation of American jurisprudence.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for Harvey Weinstein, except that he gets all the protections the accused are entitled to under our legal system. I certainly would not want to defend him, but we should be thankful for those willing to take up this charge.

Julian Kenneth Braxton

Boston