Education

New England Law “Betrayed” Students by Naming Scott Brown Dean, Petition Says

The former senator's new appointment is not going over well with students.


AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Last week, New England Law Boston announced that, after a five-month national search, the institution had selected a new dean and president: triathlete, ex-senator, and current Trump-appointed ambassador Scott Brown.

Pretty unsurprisingly, the news of Brown’s appointment immediately sparked backlash on campus, and a petition imploring the school’s board of trustees to reverse its decision has gathered 202 student and alumni signatures since Friday evening.

The petition lists Brown’s historically anti-LGBTQ stances, insensitivity to racial and gender issues, and endorsement of Donald Trump as the main reasons why the ambassador shouldn’t be involved with New England Law Boston, a school that—as the first all-female law school in the country—has long prided itself on its diversity and inclusion efforts. In naming Brown as the future dean and president, the petition states, the institution has betrayed its students.

“The Board and all those involved in this process have failed to consider the wellbeing and safety of the student body,” the petition reads. “Ambassador Brown cannot serve as the Dean of New England Law Boston when his political and moral beliefs are so repugnant to those of the student body and the legal institution itself.”

The petition outlines many of Brown’s most outrageous moments, from the gaffes of yore (saying it’s “unusual” for two women to have a baby, saying that the one thing he has learned from his wife is how to cook, etc.) to more recent incidents, like that time in 2016 when he said the Orlando shooting didn’t necessarily target the LGBTQ community.

The open letter was set into motion Friday by New England Law Boston student Dylan Lang. After Brown’s appointment was announced, Lang began to research Brown, and quickly grew concerned. As an openly gay man, Lang says, he has always found New England Law Boston to be welcoming and supportive, so the choice to appoint a man who has a clear, documented history of anti-LGBTQ stances is puzzling.

“I feel that this is a very political decision on behalf of New England Law,” Lang said in a phone interview. “He [Brown] is not a legal expert. He is not published. He hasn’t done anything academic in his lifetime…So it’s hard to believe he would really be the best choice.”

A spokesperson for New England Law Boston says that Brown was chosen via a thorough national search conducted by a committee of three faculty members, administrative staff, alumni and board members. The committee considered over 100 prospective candidates from a variety of sectors, including law firms, nonprofits, higher education and healthcare, and the top three candidates were interviewed by the school’s faculty and department heads.

“In the past few days, we have heard from many students, faculty, and alumni who have shared their excitement about the selection of Ambassador Brown,” reads a statement from the institution. “We value the feedback of all students, positive and negative, and plan to provide a community forum at some point to discuss their views. We look forward to Ambassador Brown leading New England Law towards an exciting future.”

Brown is currently serving as the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, and will assume his role at New England Law Boston in December 2020. Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and even Elizabeth Warren (who unseated Brown in 2012) all shared supportive messages in response to the news of Brown’s appointment.