Elite Firms Withdraw Job Offers to Harvard and Columbia Students Over Palestine Support Letters

Wall Street CEOs' Decision Sparks Debate on Campus and in Corporate World

Oct 19, 2023 - 04:03
Oct 19, 2023 - 04:04
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Elite Firms Withdraw Job Offers to Harvard and Columbia Students Over Palestine Support Letters
Elite Firms Withdraw Job Offers to Harvard and Columbia Students Over Palestine Support Letters

Several elite law firms have chosen to withdraw job offers from students at prestigious universities like Harvard, Columbia, and NYU. This decision came after prominent figures in the finance world announced their intention to deny opportunities to students who openly supported Palestine following the October 7 Hamas attacks.

Repercussions at Davis Polk & Wardwell

Davis Polk & Wardwell, a highly regarded law firm, has revoked job offers extended to three Ivy League students associated with the Palestine support letter. Managing partner Neil Barr affirmed these reports in an email, explaining that the expressed views in the letter were in direct opposition to the firm's core values. Barr also noted that the firm is engaged in an ongoing dialogue with two of the students. Student leaders who lent their signatures to the statements have been informed that they are "no longer welcome in our firm."

Contents of the Harvard and Columbia Letters

The students' joint statement, titled 'Joint Statement by Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups on the Situation in Palestine,' condemned Israel in the aftermath of the violence. It contended that the Hamas attack did not occur in isolation, insisting that the Israeli government has imposed an oppressive living situation on Palestinians for over two decades.

A comparable letter, endorsed by more than 20 student groups at Columbia, asserted that "the weight of responsibility for the war and casualties undeniably lies with the Israeli extremist government and other Western governments."

The students who had their job offers rescinded from the esteemed law firm attended either Harvard or Columbia, though their identities have been kept confidential.

Winston & Strawn's Recent Decision

Last week, Winston & Strawn made a similar move by retracting a job offer from Ryna Workman, former president of the New York University Student Bar Association. This came after Workman stated that Israel bore full responsibility for Hamas' deadly attack in Israel.

Potential for Reversal of Decisions

A BBC report suggests that there may be room for reconsideration. An email from managing partner Neil Barr indicates that the law firm is in discussions with two of the students to ensure that any additional information they provide is taken into account.

Harvard's Response to the Hamas-Israel Conflict

This development follows a day after prominent Harvard alumni criticized a statement from a coalition of 34 university student organizations, asserting that "the apartheid regime is the only one to blame" for the violence, referencing Israel. In response to mounting criticism, Harvard's President Claudine Gay, along with 15 deans and senior leadership, issued a statement expressing their sorrow over the loss and destruction caused by the Hamas attack targeting citizens in Israel.

Ongoing Controversy on University Campuses

The law firm's decision coincides with the ongoing controversy surrounding the Middle East conflict's portrayal on US university campuses. Harvard, in particular, has faced substantial backlash since the letter's publication. Several student groups and leaders who were named as signatories have distanced themselves, with some asserting they were unaware of the full contents before publication.

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