Apology to Diversitas, and Regret over Police at the Gates

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.

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This entry was posted in General.

13 comments on “Apology to Diversitas, and Regret over Police at the Gates

  1. Question says:

    Out of curiosity, what are the salary and benefits of an entry-level custodial worker?

    • Answer? says:

      I’d love an answer to this question. It seems the students in this movement would be able to share this basic fact that underpins everything they’re doing.

  2. K says:

    They’re not shutting down the gates to protect Harvard from you, they’ve shut them because YOU are sleeping in the yard and they are concerned for YOUR safety. This statement is absurd. You are still blaming HUPD when you should be APOLOGIZING to them for making them stand 24/7 watch over your little temper tantrum. You say you represent them, but you clearly don’t even understand their desires.

    • E says:

      Your comment is entirely wrong and absurd.

      The administration ordered the cops to shut down Harvard Yard hours before the first event was scheduled to begin on Wednesday–long before anyone took a single tent out, let alone slept there. They obviously did not shut it down out of any desire to protect the occupiers.

      Harvard administrators do not have the safety of the occupiers in mind: if they did, they would not have ordered the cops to slam the gates to Harvard Yard on them.

      And even if Harvard administrators were truly concerned about the safety of the occupiers, they could have one or two cops stationed at the John Harvard statue rather than these ridiculous checkpoints at the gates.

      The occupiers do not want the cops there. Harvard Yard has been occupied before and the administration never established gestapo checkpoints until this week.

      As an occupier, I will never apologize for doing the right thing.

    • Jeff Bridges says:

      I agree with E. If campus officials were genuinely concerned with safety—and not with trying to turn the campus against Occupy Harvard—there are many other less expensive and more effective options available to them.

      For instance, because all are welcome at Occupy, school officials could pitch a tent in the yard themselves, thereby keeping a very close eye on any potential threats to campus security. University police could also join us, or at least station themselves nearby. If Harvard took just the officers from one gate and posted them near the tents instead, they’d save a ton of money and—you know—actually ensure the safety and security of the campus.

      But that’s not what they want, so that’s not what they’re doing.

  3. Tony says:

    Relieved to hear the conflicts were unintentional and only by a few members of Occupy Harvard. Thank you Occupy Harvard for keeping it classy, despite being an anti-classist movement =D

    • b says:

      No. They are actually protecting you from outside forces that would make you look bad and they are protecting your fellow students from any others that might want to enter the yard and disrupt you or make your protest violent or unsafe in any way. I agree that you should be thanking them rather than condemning. They kind of have to think about students, including those who choose not to have a camping adventure in the Yard.

  4. Student says:

    As a non-protesting Harvard freshman, I am happy that the police are keeping the area secure. Yes, I find it frustrating that I have to show my ID and that my friends who are visiting this weekend can’t come in and that I had to stand in a line in the rain to get out of the yard, but I blame the movement, not the police, for this nuisance. As can already be seen from the Diversitas example, no matter the good intentions of the majority of the people in the movement, there are rowdier elements of Occupy Harvard that mainly comes from non-Harvard affiliated protestors. A large crowd of protestors can easily become a mob, and if they so easily were able to ruin Diversitas, even if that was not their intention, then it would not be surprising for smaller “accidents” to happen in the yard with non-Harvard affiliated people around.
    Some might try to blame HUPD for ruining Diversitas by claiming that the locked gates caused a greater ruckus. The University does have the right to restrict it to non-Harvard students, especially when the protest can disturb upwards of 1,000 freshmen living in the yard. The noise level stayed high well past 11 pm, and a lot of that was outside the gate, yet still audible to many of the dorms that border the yard. Yes, the gates shouldn’t have trapped even Harvard students outside, but I seriously doubt that people would be deterred by ID check points at the stage the protest was in, especially with the number of people. Many were trying to climb the fence in different areas, so the movement was already hard to stop at the stage it was in. It was the best decision to close the gates and allow some of the fervor to die down, then try to establish a checkpoint where people could rush the gate and riot police would need to be brought out, creating even more controversy. Just some thoughts of mine.
    Additionally, it would be nice to have some sourcing and statistics on the claims. I don’t deny their credibility, but it would be nice to then see what the plan to build from this is. I don’t understand how much wages are to be increased and what is considered an agreeable income ratio. The demands and qualifications of an investment manager are very different from a custodial worker. The supply and demand for those two occupations are very different, and I wouldn’t necessarily say that the sole cause is the university refusing to pay more, but that several other factors are involved.

  5. Andrew Farkas says:

    I hate to have to point out that Occupy Harvard is proposing to actually do something about the inequality imposed on minorities at Harvard, and is asking for greater diversity. So, while Diversitas is an admirable event, Occupy Harvard aims to spread a similar message, and is doing so in a way that is more visible, beyond the Harvard community.
    As a Cantabrigian, I had no idea Diversitas was happening, or what it was for. I’ve sure heard of Occupy Harvard, I saw a great deal of diversity among the protesters, and I saw them advocating for change.

    I do not believe that any thoughtful person arguing that Occupy Harvard ruined the message of Diversitas is truly concerned with the interruption of a celebration of diversity… by a celebration of diversity which demands respect for all. Rather, I saw individuals who were upset that their evening had not unfolded as planned, which is a different issue altogether.

  6. STOP THE OCCUPATION NOW says:

    Stop the occupation now!

  7. Occupier says:

    The Occupation is necessary as the first step of a Second American Revolution, one that will eliminate the absurd inequality of income in America and redistribute the wealth hoarded by Harvard and its rich sons and daughters!

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