21 November 2011Occupy Harvard
Contact: Jeff Bridges or Fenna Krienen
OVER 100 HARVARD FACULTY VOICE SUPPORT FOR OCCUPY HARVARD; YARD LOCKDOWN WIDELY CONDEMNED
Cambridge, MA — When Occupy Harvard set up camp on 9 November in Harvard Yard, University officials responded by placing the campus on “indefinite” lockdown, allowing entrance only to those with Harvard IDs. Students, faculty, and staff have joined together in condemning the lockdown, some voicing their opposition through open letters to University President Drew Faust. Additionally, more than 100 faculty have signed an online petition in support of Occupy Harvard.
“As a member of the Harvard community, who knows much of what is happening, the security seems unduly strict, disproportionate, unnecessary,” wrote Francis Clooney, Parkman Professor of Divinity and Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. Clooney, who called Occupy Harvard a “vigil of concern for justice,” also stated in his letter to Faust, “Those keeping Vigil are dear and welcome members of the community, some of our best, and not a security challenge.”
Harvard Law School Professor Duncan Kennedy also expressed his dismay at the lockdown in a letter to President Faust now widely distributed.
“We are, of course, honored to have the broad support of many outstanding faculty here at our school,” said Fenna Krienen, a fifth-year doctoral candidate in Psychology. “From the very beginning this has been a movement involving the entire Harvard community. We would like it to involve the broader community, but it appears that the university would rather extend its highly selective admittance policy to simply being on campus as well.”
Private security guards and Harvard University police officers even refused admittance to a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated political activist on Friday evening, 12 November. Egyptian revolutionary Ahmed Maher addressed Occupy Harvard through the locked gates of Harvard Yard. Additionally, on the morning of 18 November, Richard Wolff, Professor of Economics now teaching at UMass-Amherst, was scheduled to deliver a talk at the encampment but was denied entry into the Yard. Professor Wolff is an alum of Harvard College ‘63 and leads a distinguished teaching career. However, those credentials did not appear to be enough to admit him onto the campus.
“I knew it was hard to get into Harvard,” concluded Krienen, “but I never knew they would make it so hard to get in to Harvard Yard.”
A petition in support of Occupy Harvard has circulated through campus networks, amassing over 650 signatures, including 110 faculty signatures as of this writing. Faculty signers include Peter Ellison, Professor of Anthropology and former Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (2000-2005); Mary Steedly, Professor of Anthropology and Director of Undergraduate Studies; Archon Fung, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at the Kennedy School of Government; Alice Jardine, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; and Stephen Marglin, Walter S. Barker Chair in Economics.
Music professor Richard Thomas wrote, “I applaud the seriousness and commitment of the students. I hope this will lead to broader discussion of economic injustice, the greed of Wall Street, and Harvard’s relationship with such.”
“As a former economics department faculty member,” wrote Juliet Schor, “I lived through both the ‘Ec 10’ controversies and the Living Wage fight. Occupy Harvard is something I strongly support because without movements like this, justice is never achieved. Harvard University needs to become a democratic, transparent, fair, morally accountable institution. Occupy Harvard can help achieve some of those goals.”
Psychology professor Ken Nakayama added, “I strongly support the worldwide Occupy movement for social and economic justice and applaud Occupy Harvard’s participation in this.”
Full letter by law professor Duncan Kennedy:
List of signatures (faculty listed on second tab):
Occupy Harvard is a movement that challenges the vast political and economic inequalities in the United States and around the world. At Harvard, we have a duty to examine our own role in contributing to these disparities and should seek out ways to create a more just world. Therefore, we support Occupy Harvard in the pursuit of this goal.