Students protest Steven Pinker’s visit in front of Langford Auditorium

15 students attended protest over Pinker’s connections to Jeffrey Epstein


Emily Gonçalves

Student protesters held signs referring to Pinker’s history of ties to Jeffrey Epstein.

Will Fritzler, Staff Writer

For the second time in a year, a Chancellor Lecture Series speaker was protested in front of Langford Auditorium. On Dec. 4, roughly 15 students gathered in front of the lecture’s venue prior to the event to protest Steven Pinker, psychology professor at Harvard University, for his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The protest was organized by junior Edie Duncan, who circulated a petition urging Vanderbilt administration to rescind Pinker’s invitation on account of his multiple associations with Epstein. Details of the petition and Pinker’s connections to Epstein, as well as Pinker’s response to the petition, can be found in this Hustler article.

Students participating in the protest circulated flyers, held signs and engaged the guests entering the auditorium on why they were there. Among the phrases written on signs included “Vanderbilt gives a platform to a child prostitution defender,” “child prostitution defender ≠ culture of respect,” and “Steven Pinker advised Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyer,” referencing the legal advice he gave in 2007 to fellow then-Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who at the time was representing Epstein.

“We are continuing to do this protest despite Steven Pinker’s response to our previous statement. Even if he wasn’t directly aware of Epstein’s crimes himself, he gave legal advice on how to manipulate the language of a child sex trafficking law, which in and of itself makes me question his moral judgment,” Duncan said. “We just want people to make informed decisions when they’re deciding to view him.”

Junior John Learned said “When you see the syntax and structure of a law about luring minors over the Internet across state lines for sex trafficking, and still go through with it, that’s completely abhorrent. The fact that Vanderbilt has given this guy a platform just speaks to the fact that this university isn’t committed to the values that it advertises.”