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Harvard Protest Should Be Respected

I was really disappointed to read the column by Matt Craighead [“The Mob at Harvard”] in Friday’s Tech, not only because the author represents the rally with an extremely conservative lens, but because this is the first mention of the rally that I’ve seen in The Tech since it has exploded into the public eye. As part of the Cambridge community, I expect that MIT students would be interested in reading informative and objective articles about political and academic struggles going on around them. Instead, we were fed an obnoxious column that equates concerned students with Timothy McVeigh, and calls a sit-in an act of terrorism. I’m appalled at the irresponsibility of The Tech for ignoring this moment in history by failing to provide us with even the most basic reporting of a rally that has been going on for the last three weeks.

It makes me wonder how many students have taken an afternoon out of their day to catch the number 1 bus and go for a walk through Harvard’s campus. At any time of the afternoon you can hear speeches, listen to music, or just wander through the sprawling tent city and feel the excitement that permeates the yard. There are police milling around, but they have nothing to do because the rally is not out of hand; it is not “a violent act.” No one has been hurt, and the only distraction is the collective voice of people who are sick of seeing hard workers live in poverty.

The Harvard students who have moved into Massachusetts Hall are not trying to “get out of their classwork” as Craighead might like to think. These students are willing to sacrifice their elite education because they know that the employees they fight for can’t take time off from work to do it themselves. One paycheck can mean the difference between paying their rent on time or living on the streets.

We can hide away in our labs all we want and pretend these problems don’t exist, but that won’t erase the employees at Harvard who can’t afford homes or food. There are employees at Harvard who work three different jobs just to survive, and who go back to homeless shelters at night to sleep. Ideally they could find a better paying job elsewhere, but in reality they can’t afford the cost of transportation or the expense of moving that would allow them to work, or find it in the first place. Our community must take action and start to value the labor these people perform for each of us daily.

The Tech ran an article several weeks ago, written by an outside source, that covered the beginning stirs of the Living Wage Rally. Three weeks later, the rally has blossomed into an event that has attracted Senator Kennedy and the heads of labor unions, among other important political figures. Yet The Tech has not followed up on the event with so much as a color picture or an objective article. This makes me extremely sad. I’ve personally watched this rally grow from a smattering of flyers around the bathroom stalls on Harvard’s campus into an impressive and powerful statement that says Harvard students care more about their community than about the name on their diploma. If progressive change can’t happen at one of the top academic institutions in the country, then don’t expect it to happen anywhere.

Megan Galbraith ’01