Harvard’s Jeffrey Epstein Hypocrisy: Harvard Drops #metoo Image When Donations Are at Risk

By Sabrina L. Schaeffer
July 12, 2019

Harvard talks a big game on MeToo issues, but the university's plan to keep Jeffrey Epstein's donations proves money is more important.

Now that financial mogul Jeffrey Epstein is charged with sex trafficking girls — including minors as young as 14 years old — his relationship to Harvard University and Harvard's hypocrisy and failure to respond adequately to the Epstein scandal deserves our attention.

Epstein did not attend Harvard. Nor is he a faculty member. In fact, he doesn’t have a college degree. But for decades he has been a substantial supporter of Harvard’s programming, faculty, and social institutions. Prior to his 2008 plea deal in Florida, Epstein made sizeable grants to the university, including a $6.5 million donation in 2003 to the university's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics and additional pledges of up to $30 million. During this period, he supported several professors and he frequently described himself as a “Harvard investor.”

After Epstein was charged with soliciting sex in 2006, Harvard’s interim president made clear — as reported in The Harvard Crimson — that the university would not return his gift. He added that only in “extreme cases” would the university refuse contributions from questionable sources. But that prompts the question: Does Harvard not consider involvement in sex-trafficking girls to be an “extreme case?”

This time, in the wake of this newest indictment, Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain said that the university “does not comment on individual gifts or their status.” Nor has the press office issued a statement.

Epstein’s philanthropy ran deep and included other universities like MIT, as well as the Council on Foreign Relations. But Harvard’s silence is especially troubling when we consider recent events at the university.

Harvard's Harvey Weinstein crackdown

This spring, Harvard’s leadership came down hard — and publicly — on Ronald Sullivan, a law professor at Harvard Law School who joined the defense team for Harvey Weinstein (not, as far as I can tell, a Harvard donor), the former film producer accused of years of sexual abuse and assault against women. Sullivan has taught and practiced the legal principle that, in America, everyone accused of a crime — no matter how awful — has the right to legal representation. And that includes Weinstein.








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