The following statement was approved at Thursday night’s General Assembly:
We apologize for any disruption that we caused at Diversitas last night. Those who heckled or otherwise disrupted the event do not represent our movement. We intended to enter the Yard earlier in the evening to avoid any interruption, but were unable to do so because the Harvard University Police Department prevented us from entering. We support the celebration of diversity and culture.
For those who live and study in Harvard Yard, we regret the administration’s decision to post police at the gates and restrict entry. Our movement is made up of Harvard community members who pose no threat to the University or the “safety, security, and well-being” of our fellow Harvard students, staff, and faculty. We object to the continued constraints on entry, and encourage the administration to restore full and free access to the Yard.
The media working group would also like to point out that Harvard has traditionally had an open campus policy. In previous occupations, such as the living wage campaign in 2001 and the Vietnam war protests in 1969, the university did not respond by closing down the yard. We share the frustration of fellow students over the administration’s decision Wednesday night to post police at the gates and restrict entry and exit for everyone, including Harvard ID students.
Our movement is made up of Harvard students, staff, and faculty, and we pose no threat to the University or fellow Harvard affiliates. The ongoing ID checks and partial gate closures are as unnecessary as they are inconvenient. Furthermore, the decision to only grant entry to Harvard ID holders has reinforced the institutional exclusivity and elitism that Occupy Harvard seeks to change.
It is the opinion of many in the working group that this unnecessary action is primarily an attempt to turn student opinion against Occupy Harvard—an attempt we believe Harvard students will see through, and not allow to color their understanding of this important social movement.
Many people have asked us why we’re here. We occupy Harvard Yard in solidarity with the Occupy movement to protest the corporatization of higher education epitomized by Harvard University. We see injustice in the 180:1 ratio between the compensation of Harvard’s highest-paid employee—the head of internal investments at Harvard Management Company—and the lowest-paid employee, an entry-level custodial worker. We also see injustice in Harvard’s lack of financial transparency and its prevention of student and community voice in these investments, and other university practices. Our entire statement of principles can be found here on our website.