The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt appoints Aubrey B. Harwell, Jr. to review university response to Kirkland Hall sit-in

Harwell, Jr. serves as a partner at Neal & Harwell PLC, and his website lists his services as including commercial litigation, white-collar criminal defense and crisis management.
Eli+Motycka%2C+a+reporter+for+the+Nashville+Scene%2C+being+arrested+by+VUPD+near+Kirkland+Hall+while+covering+student+protests%2C+as+photographed+on+March+26%2C+2024.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FJosh+Rehders%29
Josh Rehders
Eli Motycka, a reporter for the Nashville Scene, being arrested by VUPD near Kirkland Hall while covering student protests, as photographed on March 26, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

Vanderbilt selected alumnus Aubrey. B Harwell, Jr. (BA ‘64, JD ‘67), to review the university’s response to the Kirkland Hall sit-ins, including the arrest of Nashville Scene reporter Eli Motycka and the university’s media access policies. The university declined to  comment on whether the review would include the suspensions of all and arrests of some student protestors.

Harwell, Jr., is a founding member of Nashville-based Neal & Harwell PLC. A statement released by the university about selecting Harwell, Jr. described him and his firm as having “extensive expertise and experience in First Amendment law.” His firm’s website describes his practice as focusing on major commercial litigation, white-collar criminal defense and crisis management, with no mention of First Amendment law. He has represented Ford Motor Company in Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company regarding the Ford Pinto automobile, Bridgestone Americas in Bridgestone Americas v. IBM and numerous public officials. The university declined to comment regarding Harwell, Jr.’s experience in First Amendment law. 

Harwell, Jr. is joined by two fellow Vanderbilt alumni in the review of the university’s response to the sit-ins: his son, Aubrey “Trey” Harwell III (BA ‘92, JD ‘95) and Chief Administrator of Neal & Harwell, Ronald Harris (JD ‘77). 

Harwell III shares similar focuses as Harwell, Jr. in the areas of civil litigation, white-collar criminal defense and crisis management. He currently serves on the Board of Advisors and as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt Law School. Harwell III’s profile on his firm’s website also includes no mention of experience with First Amendment law. Harwell III has previously represented Spotify USA, Nashville Electric Service and Bridgestone Americas with his father.

Harris mainly practices in civil litigation, focusing on commercial and business disputes. According to his firm’s website, Harris is a “zealous advocate for First Amendment Freedoms” and has been recognized by Best Lawyers for his work in First Amendment Law. Harris has represented Scripps Media in a public records dispute; Mike Curb and Curb Records in a copyright case; and NewsChannel 5 Network in a fair report privilege case.

The university declined to comment regarding the expected fairness of the review of the sit-in response given the attorneys’ current involvement and employment with Vanderbilt. 

The university stated that the findings of the firm’s review, reportedly expected to be completed in late spring, will be made public.

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About the Contributor
Josh Rehders
Josh Rehders, Former Photography Director
Josh Rehders ('24) is from Houston and is studying computer science in the School of Engineering. When he is not shooting for The Hustler, Vanderbilt Athletics or freelancing, he enjoys finding new music and good food. He can be reached at [email protected].
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Comments (3)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
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Vandy Jews for Palestine
1 month ago

the same way that the student accountability process was a joke and a kangaroo court, the lawyers paid by vanderbilt will undoubtedly find no wrongdoing on vanderbilt’s behalf. a shameful joke of an institution.

L
Lo Meisel
1 month ago

My first thought upon seeing Vanderbilt’s press release was, “I bet these lawyers have some connection with Vanderbilt.” Thanks for doing the investigating to confirm that they do. It is so obvious that the university isn’t at all interested in accountability or change.

2
2018 Alum
1 month ago

“The lawyers we paid said what we did was fine” -Chancellor Diermeier, one month from now