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Harvard Law committee votes to remove controversial shield

By Daniel Uria   |   March 5, 2016 at 10:02 AM

BOSTON, March 5 (UPI) -- A committee of Harvard Law School faculty, students, alumni and staff recommended the school retire its current shield due to ties with a slaveholding family.

The committee, formed in early November by Dean Martha Minow, determined that the shield was no longer representative of the school's values.

"We believe that if the law school is to have an official symbol, it must more closely represent the values of the law school, which the current shield does not," the committee wrote in its report to the Harvard Corporation.

The shield was adapted from the family crest of Isaac Royall, the son of an slave owner from Antigua, who donated land to the university to establish the first law professorship. It was designed by Pierre de Chaignonla Rose in 1936 and features Harvard's motto "Veritas" above three sheaves of wheat.

Ten members of the 12-person committee voted to change the shield, but final say rests with the Harvard Corporation.

"The Harvard Corporation just received the recommendation from the Harvard Law School faculty committee late this week. It will review the recommendation and make a determination in due course," Harvard University spokesman Jeff Neal told the Boston Globe.

A group of law students known as "Royall Must Fall" brought attention to the shield's origin in October when they called for it to be replaced.

The group posted to a message to their Facebook group on Friday stating "Royall is falling," following an endorsement by Dean Minow.

"As for the shield itself, I endorse the committee's recommendation to retire it," she wrote in a letter to the Harvard Corporation. "There are complex issues involved in preserving the histories of places and institutions with ties to past injustices, but several elements make retiring the shield less controverted than some other issues about names, symbols, and the past."

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