FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
17 February 2012
Contact: Fenna Krienen (617) 701-6224 or Rudi Batzell (617) 955-0679
OCCUPY HARVARD TO INFORM UNIVERSITY DONORS OF ADMINISTRATIVE ASSAULT ON LEARNING
This Friday, Occupy Harvard will be hosting a phone bank to inform University donors of administrative plans to further deplete campus libraries, despite a rebounding endowment. From 4-7pm today, students and allies will gather in Lamont Library Café, which has been occupied since Sunday, and call major and minor donors to let them know about where their money is going.
Since 1991, Harvard’s endowment has grown from just under $5 billion dollars to just over $32 billion. Over the same period, Harvard administration has closed over 20 libraries. In the last two years alone, the number of library assistants across the Library system has declined by a startling 21%. Meanwhile, those in charge of managing the endowment rake in compensation in excess of 6 million dollars a year; such exorbitant pay is justified as necessary to maintain Harvard’s position as the world’s premiere institution of higher learning. Occupy Harvard is unable to reconcile this claim with the obvious administrative efforts to impoverish undergraduate and graduate education by closing libraries and firing research staff.
Reflecting on the value of Harvard’s smaller libraries, Katherine Stevens, a doctoral candidate in History said, “I love the Museum of Comparative Zoology Library. Zoology isn’t even my field–I’m a historian–but I spend time there because it is a quiet place with helpful staff.” She continued, “Because I do environmental history, being in close proximity to the life sciences and seeing the rotating displays in the MCZ’s foyer always inspires me. When my family comes to visit, I don’t take them to Memorial Hall or even Widener. I show them the MCZ.”
In a 2009 report, the library task force stated that the Harvard libraries could “no longer harbor delusions of being a completely comprehensive collection.” If restoring Harvard’s historically peerless system of libraries and maintaining a competent and experienced research staff are no longer the goals of the administration, then Harvard Management Companies’ Wall Street salaries can no longer be justified. Instead, these must be seen for what they are: an effort by the administrative elite to rob Harvard and its endowment under the flimsiest of pretenses of efficiency.
“I don’t want to go to a library that is the equivalent of a big box store for books, but it seems that is exactly what Harvard will wind up with if the restructuring isn’t rethought,” concluded Katherine Stevens.
Occupy Harvard calls on all students, library workers, and local allies to join them in Lamont Café this Friday to contact donors and ask that they mark their donations for maintaining Harvard’s libraries, collections and staff, and restoring Harvard’s standing as the finest university in any country.
Those unable to attend today’s phone bank are encouraged to call Peggy Molander, Director of Development of Harvard College Library, 617-495-8062 or President Drew Faust, (617) 495-1502, or write to the Alumni Affairs and Development Office: firstname.lastname@example.org and ask after the priorities of the stewards of Harvard’s treasured library system.