The $750,000 Second Chance
The image of a person behind bars illustrated a story in the Winter 2021 issue about BC Law’s Project Entrepreneur, a course that teaches students business law by having them work with formerly incarcerated clients interested in starting their own enterprise. One such client, Stacey Borden, has proven its value. Since her prison release in 2010, she has earned a master’s, launched a nonprofit to counsel returning women, and began fundraising for a halfway house. She pitched her idea at the end of the course to business leaders. Impressed, a couple in the audience responded with a gift of the halfway house purchase price—$750,000.
Backstory on a Peace Prize
James Bitanga ’06 (“Surviving Southeast Asia’s ‘Shark Tank,” Winter 2017), an alum of Philippine heritage who works in Singapore, wrote to us in October about his relationship to journalist Maria Ressa, co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize. They met in Singapore in the mid-2000s, connecting over a shared interest in the startup space. She discussed her vision of a novel news platform where members would engage as digital citizens. In 2012, Bitanga and family members decided to invest in her project, which became Rappler and grew into the Philippines’ biggest news outlet. Bitanga served on the board.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, after his 2016 election, launched an intimidation and disinformation campaign against Ressa and Rappler for critical coverage of his war on drugs, human rights violations, etc. Criminal cases were filed against Ressa, Bitanga, and affiliated others. Bitanga left the Rappler board in 2017 to focus on his job with venture-building firm REAPRA. Though all but one of the charges against him have been dropped, he has not been back to the Philippines in several years. “Doing so would mean getting arrested and facing jail time. In other words,” he says. “I am somewhat of a fugitive.”
When BC Law Professor Daniel Coquillette published On the Battlefield of Merit in 2015 [“Pro-Slavery Bias Revealed,” Winter 2016], its revelations about Harvard’s historic connections to slavery caused a stir. One item that drew particular ire was the law school’s official seal based on the coat of arms of the slaveholding family of Isaac Royall, benefactor of Harvard’s first law professorship. Student protests led to its removal in 2016. Five years later, a replacement has emerged. Veritas, truth, it proclaims, along with lex et iustitia, the Latin phrase for law and justice.
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