[act-ma] Chris Hedges at Occupy Harvard, Monday, Nov. 28

James in Cambridge tompaine at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 27 13:41:03 PST 2011


  
 
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Chris Hedges to Embed with Occupy Harvard on Monday!
Nov26 

Chris Hedges is an author/journalist/war correspondant who has written extensively about issues relevant to the Occupy movement and is himself a strong supporter of Occupy. He is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and writes for Truthdig.
And on Monday, he’ll be embedding with Occupy Harvard!
Here’s an excerpt from his latest book, ‘Death of the Liberal Class:’

Universities no longer train students to think critically, to examine and critique systems of power and cultural and political assumptions, to ask the broad questions of meaning and morality once sustained by the humanities. These institutions have transformed themselves into vocational schools. They have become breeding grounds for systems managers trained to serve the corporate state. In a Faustian bargain with corporate power, many of these universities have swelled their endowments and the budgets of many of their departments with billions in corporate and government dollars. College presidents, paid enormous salaries as if they were the heads of corporations, are judged almost solely on their ability to raise money. In return, these universities, like the media and religious institutions, not only remain silent about corporate power but also condemn as “political” all within their walls who question corporate malfeasance and the excesses of unfettered capitalism.
 
Monday 11/28 Schedule of Events3:30 pm: Rally in support of University of California student strike! Meet in front of Science Center.
5:00 pm: Chris Hedges addresses Occupy Harvard! He will first come through the Yard, then head over to the Science Center to speak to those who can’t get in. (At 6:00 pm, he will give a talk entitled Death of the Liberal Class at Yenching Auditorium:  http://mahindrahumanities.fas.harvard.edu/?q=node/341.)
6:00 pm: Occupy Harvard General Assembly. Meet at Johnston Gate.
Later: Chris Hedges returns to the Occupy Harvard encampment to embed for the night!



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Press Release: Occupy Harvard Calls for Harvard to Halt Reinvestment in HEI
Nov25 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
25 November 2011

Contact: Jeff Bridges or Fenna Krienen
(617) 701-6224
occupy.harvard at gmail.com

Cambridge, MA — At their General Assembly this week, Occupy Harvard made it clear that they continue to stand for real change at the university by calling for a to halt future investments in HEI Hotels and Resorts, a hotel management company with a history of unethical labor practices.

“Students at Harvard have been pressing the university to halt investment in HEI Hotels and Resorts for more than three years,” said William Whitham, a sophomore at Harvard College and member of Occupy Harvard, as well as the Student Labor Action Movement. “Harvard is a major investor in HEI, and these workers’ lives can’t wait. As difficult as it may be for Harvard to follow the lead of another Ivy, we need to look to Brown University as a model and stop investing in HEI. Last I checked, their endowment was still just fine even without adding more HEI to their portfolio.”

Brown University declared last February that it would halt future investments in HEI due to ethical questions about labor practices.

Mildred Velasquez, a housekeeper at the W Hollywood, declared that “working here is no better than working at a sweatshop. These universities give HEI millions of dollars. They are the real owners of this hotel. They are responsible for our working conditions.”

On October 28, 2011, workers at the HEI-owned W Hollywood walked off the job to protest not being able to take breaks. Although California state law allows workers two 10-minute paid rest breaks and one 30-minute paid rest break in an eight-hour shift, workers say that increased workloads, short-staffing and insufficient time prevent them from taking breaks.

On October 2, the California State Labor Commission found the Embassy Suites in Irvine guilty of denying rest breaks to hotel workers and has ordered the hotel pay $36,000 to workers. The Embassy Suites is managed by an HEI subsidiary.

Harvard College senior Karen Narefsky says, “I am occupying Harvard because I want Harvard to be a university that works towards the interests of the 99%. Halting investments in HEI is the next step to Harvard acting in an ethical and socially responsible way.”


The entire statement from Occupy Harvard can be found here at occupyharvard.net.


More information about HEI Hotels and Resorts can be found at http://www.heiworkersrising.org/.


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Open Letter to Drew Faust from Dr. Francis Clooney of Harvard Divinity School
Nov23 
Subject: The Vigil in the Yard
President Drew Gilpin Faust
Dear Drew,
I’ve had occasion a number of times in the past few days to walk through the Yard, most recently tonight at 7pm, and observe our students and colleagues in their ‘occupy’ activity – which I might think is better called a Vigil of concern and for justice. Just a few comments.
First, knowing only a small number of those present, it seems to me that these are among the members of our community of whom we should be most proud. They are concerned for the more vulnerable and less powerful members of Harvard, and are going to considerable inconvenience to show solidarity. Harvard is about many things, but this commitment is something of which we should all be very proud. It reminds us of why we are here.
Second, it is timely that this Vigil occurs now, as your Review of Religion at Harvard committee does its work, as the search for a replacement of Peter Gomes proceeds, and as you work with HDS in the selection of a new Dean. Surely, the major portion of these activities of review and search are academic and to some extent business-like, but just as surely, they raise the questions about what kind of human and spiritual community we are: how is religion to be taught and studied at Harvard? who shall preach, with which values and questions, in Memorial Church? how does the modern Harvard understand HDS and its complex values and goals? what standing does HDS – where religion is studied, but also lived and prayed and tested in times of trouble – have at Harvard today? Such questions concern us all, but those keeping vigil in the Yard remind us in a simple, honest, and direct manner that religion at Harvard is to be spoken, taught, studied, analyzed – but also lived on the edges, where human needs press upon us. The keepers of this Vigil, tonight in the dark, shed light on what we are about when we consider religion, the teaching and preaching of it, at Harvard today, and I am grateful to them for this timely reminder.
Third, I realize that one of your responsibilities is to maintain order and security at the university, and care for the well-being particularly of those who reside in the Yard. Some security is therefore necessary, and I appreciate your care for this matter, as the Vigil proceeds. But even to me as a member of the Harvard community, who knows much of what is happening, the security seems unduly strict, disproportionate, unnecessary. Indeed, it would not be appropriate to allow everyone and anyone to camp out in the Yard, but nevertheless it is also for the well-being of the university to make clear, as I stated above, that those keeping Vigil are dear and welcome members of the community, some of our best, and not a security challenge. Monitor the site yes, but soon enough, please re-open the gates.
Fourth, it was not clear from my brief conversations with those keeping vigil whether members of your staff, or indeed you yourself, are in conversation with them about their concerns. I do hope very much that you make sure that university officials are in conversation with this small community in the Yard, and likewise make it clear to them that their concerns about a just wage and other matters are being taken seriously by the university. Showing up and talking with them may be the best strategy of all, for a secure and tranquil Harvard. I hope you do take some time, if you have not done so already, to meet with those keeping Vigil.
Thanks very much, and please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss any of these points more in depth.
Sincerely,
–
Francis X. Clooney, SJ
Parkman Professor of Divinity
Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions
Harvard University



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Open Letter to Drew Faust from Harvard Faculty
Nov23 

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.
Sincerely,
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.


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Lucy O’Leary: This Is Why We Occupy
Nov22 
Awesome article by Harvard Occupier Lucy O’Leary in today’s Crimson entitled “This Is Why We Occupy.” Reprinted below:

History shows that those in power often need a push in the right direction. Harvard’s 2001 Living Wage Campaign, culminating in a tent city in the Yard (which, incidentally, remained open to the public), brought justice for workers across campus. As a student involved in organizing Occupy Harvard, I’ve been frustrated that while there are many legitimate critiques to make about both the broader Occupy movement and its Harvard manifestation, most of the arguments I hear fundamentally miss the mark.
I was disturbed to see campus support for Alexandra Petri’s ’10 critique of Occupy Harvard, which accused student activists of wasting time in smelly tents when they could be studying—what she claims we should do to remedy injustice in the world. If more students understood the issues Occupy Harvard has raised, they might be less inclined to write off its efforts as the ignorant whining of a few deviant ingrates.
I repeatedly hear arguments that Harvard’s generous financial aid policy invalidates our presence. While I personally benefit from this policy and am deeply grateful for the opportunity to study here, this does not preclude my criticism of Harvard’s lack of fiscal transparency. (Nonetheless, many graduate students suffer excessive loan burdens, a major concern of the national Occupy movement.) It saddens me that students are willing to accept the argument that the “greater good” of needs-blind admission justifies a swath of unethical endowment investments, including sweatshop hotels here in America. Months ago, members of the Student Labor Action Movement—many of whom helped organize Occupy Harvard—met with Robert D. Reischauer ’63, chairman of the Harvard Corporation, to discuss Harvard’s investments in HEI Hotels and Resorts. HEI profits through a variety of exploitative practices, including union busting, speedups, and slashes to wages and healthcare (Brown already declared it won’t reinvest). When we raised critiques about Harvard’s lack of transparency, Reischauer said that if Harvard were to agree to publicly disclose its investments, students would take issue with many other items in its portfolio.
This strengthens our call for dialogue on campus about the relationship between Harvard’s dual missions of providing students a quality education and serving as a positive force in the world. A commitment to socially responsible investment by the University would benefit people all across the globe whose lives are directly impacted by the practices Harvard condones with its current investment policies.
Students argue we are too privileged to claim to represent the 99 percent. Our privileged status and proximity to power are all the more reason to speak out against injustice and, in fact, make it imperative that we do so. Critics accused another former Harvard student, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Class of 1904, of being a class traitor for supporting New Deal social programs and regulation of big business.
Students’ main grievance, however, revolves around the lockdown of the Yard. Unfortunately, many have been unable to disentangle the importance of the Occupy Harvard protest from the hassle of the gate closure. It’s worth pointing out that the relatively minor inconvenience of having to flash one’s ID at the gate has resulted in important gains for hundreds of workers at Harvard.
With blatant disrespect for custodians’ concerns, Petri joked we’d complain even if our janitors made $300,000 a year. That salary is near that of the top one percent of income earners in the US—hardly what’s at stake when workers spend months in bargaining over raises of eleven cents per hour.
I attended two sessions of the custodians’ contract negotiations and was struck by their resonance with Occupy’s struggle for economic justice. In response to management’s statement concerning the impact of the economic crisis on negotiations, one worker said, “The economy may not be good, but don’t tell us how bad it is. We should be telling you that. Let us hear you tell your children that you can’t pay for their medicine or schoolbooks. We the custodians should not have to bear the burden of the economy alone.” He was negotiating with a team that represents individuals making $8.4 million dollars per year.
These wage talks came after the University had caved on one of the custodians’ key demands—parity in benefits between direct and subcontracted employees. Harvard’s former policy arbitrarily denied tuition assistance and childcare benefits to hundreds of subcontracted workers. During the security guards’ contract fight, SLAM met with Bill Murphy, Harvard’s Director of Labor Relations, regarding this issue. Murphy said the provision of such benefits was not under Harvard’s purview—that we should go talk to Securitas, one of the contractors, and urge them to provide these vital benefits. With this contract settlement, Harvard has made a surprising turnaround. Not only did custodians win parity, they won it for all campus employees, including security guards and food service workers.
This huge victory for workers was not possible without the occupation. But the struggle is just beginning. We have taken action because our concerns have not been addressed through formal channels and because we value our communities, both local and global. Students should abandon superficial discourse around Occupy Harvard and think more deeply about the values motivating these efforts—inconvenient though it may be.



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Undergraduate Council Solidarity with UC Davis
Nov22 
On November 20th, the Harvard Undergraduate Council (the undergraduate student governing body) voted unanimously to pass an act supporting peaceful protest for all students. The text of the statement is below:

Whereas the Undergraduate Council unequivocally supports the fundamental right of students to peaceful protest;
Whereas video evidence indicates that students at UC Davis were seated, silent, and at no point resisted removal violently, in action that epitomizes non-violent civil disobedience, despite being pepper-sprayed directly as per (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdDLhPwpp4);
Whereas the Undergraduate Council recognizes the continued need to protect this right of all students, regardless of their political affiliation or perspective;
Whereas speaking out publicly in condemnation with other student unions can prevent future injurious incidents at American universities including our own;
Whereas police brutality in response to student protests on college campuses has been historically well-documented since the 1960s, including at Harvard, and most notably at Kent State on May 4, 1970, when four students were shot by National Guardsmen;
Whereas students nation-wide stood in solidarity in the aftermath of the Kent State shootings with a 4-million student strike to protest the police brutality;
Be it therefore resolved the Undergraduate Council condemn the decision by UC Davis officials led by UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to authorize this use of disproportionate force against peacefully protesting students;
Be it further resolved that the Undergraduate Council condemn the spraying of non-violently protesting students;
Be it further resolved that the Undergraduate Council stand in solidarity with the students of UC Davis and call for appropriate redress by the UC Davis and University of California administrations for affected students;
Be it further resolved that the Undergraduate Council President express this condemnation via telephone and email to Lt. John Pike, the officer responsible for the incident, Annette M. Spicuzza, the UC Davis Police Chief, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, Chair of the UC Davis Board of Trustees Kevin Bacon, and University of California President Mark G. Yudof;
Be it further resolved that the Undergraduate Council call for the continued support of the right of students to peaceful protest without violent response by the Harvard administration, the Harvard University Police Department, as well as student unions, university administrations and police departments across the US.
Emphasis is ours. We, too, hope that the Harvard administration continues to support the right of students to peacefully protest without violent response. Thank you for the solidarity, Undergraduate Council!



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Occupy Harvard Crimson!
Nov21 

First edition out today! Read it Online and Share it!or Download Pdf 

Pick up your print copy at the Info Desk!




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Dean Hammonds Drops Out of Dudley Forum
Nov21 
We’ve just heard that Dean Hammonds will no longer be speaking at the Dudley House Forum on Occupy Harvard tonight at 6:30. 
We regret her decision not to take this opportunity to learn more about Occupy Harvard, as we regret the administration’s decision not to attend any of our frequent General Assemblies, despite persistant invitation.
Dudley event details below [Note OH confirmed with a Dudley administrator that they will NOT be checking IDs in the Common Room. However, note the exclusive language below (which they maintain has to do with room capacity)]:
***
Occupy Harvard Forum – 6:30 p.m. – Common Room
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Dudley House will host an important forum on Occupy Harvard on Monday, November 21, at 6:30 p.m., in the Common Room, 2nd floor, Dudley House.
Former Dudley House Masters Everett Mendelsohn and Mary Anderson will lead a panel discussion aimed at exploring the concerns and perspectives of Harvard graduate and undergraduate students about the Occupy movement, Yard access, and related issues. The panel will include Harvard students who are active in Occupy Harvard and Occupy Boston.
The event is free and open to Dudley House members (GSAS students, Dudley undergraduates, and residents of the GSAS residence halls). We hope that many of you will join us at Dudley this evening at 6:30 p.m. Space is limited to the size of the Common Room.
***



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Atlantic: Occupy Harvard Goes After Campus Visitors
Nov21 
Fantastic post in The Atlantic that everyone should go read right now. From the article:

Occupy Harvard seems to have taken a turn towards the mainstream in Cambridge. On Monday, the protesters announced the success of a petition signed by 110 Harvard professors, some more prominent and more outspoken than others, that condemns the administration locking down Harvard Yard in response to the students’ decision to set up camp in front of the John Harvard statue nearly two weeks ago. The measure led to some ridicule in the press for Harvard keeping even their version of a purportedly all-inclusive protest movement as exclusive as the university itself, but coupled with plans to target celebrities and politicians visiting campus along with the recent flood of support suggest that the protest hopes to take advantage of Harvard’s high profile.
They even used our new “What are they afraid of?” graphic. Nice touch!



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9 Comments Posted in General 

Nov21 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
21 November 2011Occupy Harvard
Contact: Jeff Bridges or Fenna Krienen
(617) 701-6224
occupy.harvard at gmail.com

OVER 100 HARVARD FACULTY VOICE SUPPORT FOR OCCUPY HARVARD; YARD LOCKDOWN WIDELY CONDEMNEDCambridge, 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.
Continue reading →



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@Occupy_Boston @StudentsOccupy UC/gen strike solidarity rally tomorrow at Harvard 3:30PM, no ID required http://t.co/KWKRavYC #occupyharvard 46 minutes ago
@HarvardUC we posted your statement of solidarity with UC Davis at http://t.co/gfCkd1rz hope you will join us Monday for a solidarity rally! 1 day ago
@harvardslam @OccupyBosDA @OccupyBOS_Media Rally 11/28 in solidarity w UC schools! http://t.co/CxCcg2JY chris hedges to join us!! 2 days ago
thank you RLL dept and Harvard Foundation for bringing the amazing food yesterday! pics here: http://t.co/RAvNuyO9 @Harvard @harvardslam 2 days ago
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Recent Posts

Chris Hedges to Embed with Occupy Harvard on Monday!
Press Release: Occupy Harvard Calls for Harvard to Halt Reinvestment in HEI
Open Letter to Drew Faust from Dr. Francis Clooney of Harvard Divinity School
Open Letter to Drew Faust from Harvard Faculty
Lucy O’Leary: This Is Why We Occupy
OccupyHarvard on Facebook
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