Occupy Harvard

Cambridge, Mass (February 2012)

Ajax plays in a squash tournament at Harvard in February. We arrive late on Friday night. The tournament goes until Monday and there will be a lot of downtime between matches. I cast about for something to do in Boston and am disappointed – but not surprised – to learn that Occupy Boston doesn’t any longer have a physical occupation in the City; the winters are cold and miserable here. But in checking out Occupy Boston’s website I learn that there is an Occupation at Harvard. This I had to see. Was it really possible that students at Harvard were claiming to be the 99%? I wondered how Occupy’s position would fit with the ubiquity of its Harvard’s self-congratulatory exclusivity. I googled the terms “Harvard” and “selectivity” and I found a blog post that noted:

Harvard University’s 7 percent overall rate of admissions last year was apparently not low enough. This year, it dropped to 6.9 percent. Harvard received more than 30,000 applications this year, a 5 percent increase from last year, and accepted 2,110 students. “That’s 28,000 broken hearts,” one admissions staff member said as several passed trays stuffed with rejections into a car to be mailed, according to the student newspaper the Harvard Crimson.

I checked the website again. There was definitely an Occupation at Harvard. Wow. This was really a surprise. Occupy Harvard out in the cold misery of Boston’s winters, giving voice to the message of the 99%, sticking it to the man.  Yes, this I would have to see.

I did some more research.  Occupy Harvard had indeed had an occupation. But it hadn’t been in the frigid Beantown winter. Occupy Harvard had occupied….

… the Lamont Library at Harvard.

And now it was over. At 10:00 last night, when the library closed, the Occupation ended.

I was disappointed to have missed it. I read that before ending the occupation, the occupiers held a “think tank” where they discussed the freighty issues of “what does the library of the future look like”? and “what is Occupy Harvard’s relationship with other Occupies near and far”? The occupation was apparently triggered by the University’s announced intention to reduce library staff.

The interest of OH in libraries seemed pretty natural; according to the website most of the occupiers were graduate students. It has been many years since I was in college but I am pretty sure that it would not have been a very heavy lift to occupy the library. It was warm and full of books. A bit different than the lonely vigil in the drear Yorkshire winter of Occupy Sheffield.

I found the plans for the post occupation activities of Occupy Harvard hilarious.  The plans included “having outdoor think tanks during lunch hours and setting up 48-hour occupations of Harvard Yard when the weather gets warmer.” I wondered if the think tanks will include frisbee and golden retrievers with bandannas on their necks….

– Jay Duret

jayduret@yahoo.com