Harvard Law School Activists Call for End of Tuition

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on April 20, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

After their recent victory to have Harvard's controversial seal removed, the group Reclaim Harvard has focused its attention on another controversial issue: ending tuition at Harvard Law.

The push is the main thrust of the "Fees Must Fall" campaign which began several weeks ago during the law school's Admitted Students weekend. But is tuition really a thing of the past for the nation's top law school?

Reclaim Harvard Sit In

The group Reclaim Harvard has ensconced itself in Caspersen Center Student Lounge and has holed itself up there since February this year. When students who were admitted to Harvard Law's 2016-2019 class arrived at the school, tensions mounted as many of them were not expecting encounters from protests, posters, and picketing. Some Harvard Law staff removed posts affixed to the outside of the lounge, but posters inside remained untouched. Still, tempers were flaring.

Open Letter to Harvard Law

The group penned an open letter on Sunday addressed to Harvard Law's Dean Martha Minow and the Harvard Corporation and demanded an end to tuition. In it, Reclaim Harvard claims that tuition fee hikes disproportionately impact students of color "who are less likely to have amassed wealth in the United States" and suggests that tuition rates discourage students from taking positions in public interest.

Harvard Law Responds

The letter suggests that Harvard Law should rely on outside funding such as endowments to cover the law school's operating costs. There is also a suggestion to dip into the pockets of faculty. But there are no real tenable alternatives to tuition.

To its credit, Harvard Law's spokesperson Robb London argued that 80 percent of the students who attend Harvard Law receive either a grant or loan. Besides that, he said, an elimination of tuition would force the scaling back of clinical programs and costs would overrun the school.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard