Faust Issues Statement on Occupy Harvard
On Tuesday, as access to Harvard Yard remained restricted due to the presence of the Occupy Harvard protest's tent city, President Drew Faust issued a statement affirming the demonstrators' right to peaceful protest and explaining the security measures the University has put in place.
Faust said the administration decided to bar anyone who does not hold a Harvard ID from entering the Yard based on the behavior of demonstrators on November 9, when the protest began (“Some attempted to enter the Yard by force, and assaulted at least one Harvard police officer, grabbing his gun belt and stealing his radio"), and on Web postings inciting protesters to "confrontation and disruption." She said the group "included individuals who, according to external law enforcement agencies, have engaged in violent behavior elsewhere with the explicit goal of causing disruption and with little connection to any particular cause."
"Incidents of violence—including shootings and sexual assaults—have occurred at other Occupy sites," she noted.
Faust said Harvard had a duty to protect the safety of those who live and work in the Yard and to maintain a quiet environment for work and study. She said the administration has sought to minimize inconvenience by creating a separate process for "guests, Extension School students, lecturers, Memorial Church parishioners," and others who do not hold Harvard IDs to gain access to the Yard through the Campus Service Center, and that two additional gates would be opened, after the Thanksgiving break, as ID checkpoints during daylight hours.
"While we believe the current Yard access protocols remain warranted, we know others can and will disagree," she said. "These issues are being debated on campus, and I view that as a good thing."
Faust noted that, other than the Yard, "the rest of the campus remains open as usual for all voices and participants in the debate." For instance, she said, demonstrations and rallies have been held at the American Repertory Theater and at the Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics.
Meanwhile, the protesters told the Harvard Crimson that they planned to continue their encampment during and after the Thanksgiving break. While lauding a new contract for Harvard's custodial workers, demonstrators said they still urged Harvard to abandon investments the protesters do not consider socially responsible.