Open Letter to Drew Faust from Harvard Faculty

Faculty members believe that locking the gates is inconsistent with Harvard’s commitment to open inquiry and inclusiveness.

November 22, 2011

Dear President Faust,

We the undersigned faculty members of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of Linguistics, and the Committee on Degrees in the study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, are writing to express our opposition to the decision to lock the gates of Harvard Yard. We sympathize with your difficult position, but all of us agree that locking the gates is contrary to the principle of open inquiry for which the university stands. Historically, Harvard has never locked its gates (at least, not in recent memory), and we believe that security issues can be addressed differently.  We do not share the perception that the Occupy movement constitutes a threat to Harvard. To the contrary, we are in sympathy with protests against increasing inequality in the United States and believe that Harvard should welcome discussions of the issue.

We are pleased that in recent years Harvard has taken admirable steps in the direction of greater inclusiveness, both by committing more resources to financial aid and by attempting to recruit a more diverse group of students and faculty. We consider the decision to lock the gates of Harvard Yard inconsistent with the University’s commitments to open inquiry and inclusiveness, and urge you as President of this great university to make a public statement about the importance of free inquiry and discussion in the university as you order the gates to be opened.

A number of us would be happy to meet with you and with the Provost to discuss the various issues related to the current crisis.  We are writing to you not in a spirit of opposition, but in a spirit of communal concern.


Janet Beizer, Gennaro Chierchia, Tom Conley, Verena Conley, David Damrosch, Amy Rose Deal, Sergio Delgado, Brad Epps, Francesco Erspamer, Luis Fernández Cifuentes, Luis Girón Negrón, Adriana Gutierrez, Sylvaine Guyot, James Huang, Alice Jardine, Jay Jasanoff, Biodun Jeyifo, Clémence Jouët-Pastré, Caroline Light, Maria Grazia Lolla, Giuliana Minghelli, Mylène Priam, José Rabasa, Sarah Richardson, Jeffrey Schnapp, Nicolau Sevcenko, Mariano Siskind, Doris Sommer, Susan R. Suleiman.

Link to letter here.

This entry was posted in General.

5 comments on “Open Letter to Drew Faust from Harvard Faculty

  1. John Berg says:

    They locked the gates on us in 1969, too, or do I heard – I was inside University Hall, and couldn’t see directly. I’m really happy to see your statement


    They gates also get locked during each Head of the Charles Regatta.

  3. murmur55 says:

    Keeping the gates locked will keep the Harvard people IN and make the world a safer place for the rest of us.

  4. freshman says:

    I’m a freshman, and I got caught in the swarm of hundreds of Occupy Boston and Occupy Harvard protestors who aimed to descend on the Yard on Nov. 9. I agree with some of the goals of Occupy Harvard, but I was frightened to learn that some of the protesters tried to scale the gates, while another grabbed stole a HUPD officer’s radio and snatched at his gunbelt. As someone who lives on the first floor in a dorm in Harvard Yard, I’m relieved that the University is taking measures to secure the Yard from aforementioned threats. “Open inquiry and inclusiveness” are great — that’s why I chose Harvard — but the safety of the freshmen who live on Harvard Yard is of paramount importance.

  5. […] of the lockdown’s “massive security presence” and “Homeland Security feel,” multiple open letters from faculty members calling on the university to honor Harvard’s “commitment to open inquiry […]

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