Thursday, May 17, 2007

Support from the Class of 1957

The undersigned members of the Harvard Class of 1957 had prepared the following letter to be sent to President Bok, President-Elect Faust, the Harvard Corporation and the Crimson, when they learned of the interim settlement of the dispute involving the University, campus security guards and student activists. We are sending this letter to The Crimson now because the announced settlement does not demonstrate to us any change in Harvard management's basic anti-labor policy.

As we prepare to gather for our 50th Reunion, we are saddened to learn that Harvard, once again, has failed the test of accommodation to a demand for social justice.

With the power and wealth Harvard has at its disposal, for the University to dismiss with a fine impartiality the demand of security guards for a living wage, for compensation comparable to Harvard's other service employees, is unconscionable. For the University to claim that it is not a party to the dispute because it involves a Harvard contractor and its employees is, to say the least, disingenuous.

Why do students have to go on a hunger strike to engage the University? Why is it that, on issue after issue, going back for years, Harvard's first response to an appeal for equity is to resist?

We have seen a long-term pattern of failure to protect the civil liberties of students and faculty, cooperation with government witchhunts, discrimination in faculty appointments on political, racial and sexual grounds, and failure to take a strong and moral position against those forces that perpetuate discrimination and injustice. Harvard too often pays lip service to humanistic values but aligns itself in practice with repressive forces.

It is long past time for the University to put its money where its mouth is.

Emile C. Chi
Chester W. Hartman
James N. Perlstein
Michael D. Tanzer