Law firm withdraws donation from Harvard after Justice for Palestine uses money to order pizza
The Milbank Tweed Student Conference Fund was created by Milbank Tweed LLC for student organizations at Harvard Law School (HLS) to use for events. After Harvard Law’s Justice for Palestine (JFP) thanked the law firm for paying for pizza at last October’s event, “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack,” the firm’s representatives called the Dean of Students to complain.
Harvard’s administration refused the law firm’s request to rescind all of JFP’s Milbank Tweed Student Conference Fund money, so Milbank Tweed withdrew $250,000 of its money from the student activity funding .
“The very next day, the Dean of Students office—citing a flood of angry phone calls and emails received from Milbank executives and other off-campus parties over the previous 24 hours—asked an organizer of the event to disassociate from Milbank in all past and future Justice for Palestine programming. As a start, the organizer was asked to immediately remove the reference to Milbank’s “generous support” from JFP’s Facebook event page….After acknowledging that they recognized the irony in asking a student to retroactively edit the description for an event that was about free speech and its exceptions, the Dean of Students administrators proceeded to make it very clear that our cooperation would be greatly appreciated,” JFP wrote in a letter published in the Harvard Law School Record.
“Administrators would later reveal that Milbank had gone so far as to demand that JFP’s Milbank funding be rescinded completely.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,” JFP added.
Despite the large sum of money being withdrawn from the school, JFP has received support from other campus organizations.
“As a student organization that supports human rights, we were very disturbed to hear that Justice for Palestine was singled out for its event about free speech on college campuses. It underscores the theme of that event that students can’t have free discussions about Palestine without interference of political lobbyists, and it also shows the influence of corporate law firms at Harvard Law School. Law firms have their names on every aspect of the school, and they do this to recruit top talent. Most students go to law school wanting to change the world, but the vast majority get funneled into corporate law firms. Something happens here that changes people’s beliefs and goals, and the Milbank Student Conference Fund was a subtle but powerful part of that,“ Co-President of Advocates for Human Rights at HLS Brian Klosterboer told Palestine in America.
Although the student organizations will have to work without the aid of the Milbank Fund, they won’t be discouraged from advocating for Palestine in the future.
“Most of the other student organizations have been very supportive. They think it’s outrageous that their money has been pulled, but they are glad that the administration did the right thing by refusing to let Palestinian advocacy be a sacrificial lamb in exchange for corporate donations. Moving forward, we plan to make sure that the Milbank money we have left is put to good use. We don’t have any specific plans yet, but we will definitely be spending some of it on our Israeli Apartheid Week programming.” JFP’s Collin Poirot said.