A Somewhat Entertaining Line-by-Line Analysis of the Harvard Adminstration's 11_10_11 Letter to Its Community on #OccupyHarvard
It's always important to read between the lines of any official document coming from any significant societal institution - especially during times of crisis. So when the following missive from the Harvard University administration crossed our screen earlier today, we thought it was a good idea to do a line-by-line commentary in the public interest. We also thought it proper that we should do so with tongue at least partly in cheek. Because we get bored easily when reading stuff like this, and we're sure you do too. The document below was shared with the world by many members of the Harvard community immediately upon its release - including the person or persons that run the Socialism Art Nature Tumblr blog. Tip of the hat to them. Read on.
Harvard's letter is in normal type. Open Media Boston's comments - in the role of the Harvard administration - are in italics.
Dear Members of the Harvard Community:
We don't mean you.
Last night, several hundred demonstrators converged on the Harvard campus to express their support for the Occupy movement.
Several hundred people tried to hold a pro-democracy meeting on Harvard Yard last night - which, like many parts of the Harvard campus, was literally fortified with huge walls and gates by our predecessors. We stopped them from doing so by putting lots of Harvard University Police, private security guards and Cambridge Police on each of the five gates we left open, and preventing anyone without a Harvard ID from entering - especially local residents hoping to join the meeting … until they all went over to Harvard Law School for a while and met anyway. This move annoyed and confused us. We're already getting bids on walls and gates for Harvard Law School from area construction companies.
The demonstrators consisted of people from within and outside the Harvard community.
We're looking for ways to smear the Occupy movement, but we haven't thought of a really solid PR strategy yet.
At the conclusion of the evening, Harvard students erected tents in the Yard, which remained through the night.
OccupyHarvard students hid tents where we couldn't find them and annoyed us further by actually managing to set them up on the Yard last night.
We are writing now to explain the principles that have informed, and will continue to inform, our response to these activities.
Our only principles are to defend the status quo. We are desperately casting about for any excuse that will allow us to destroy the OccupyHarvard encampment with impunity.
First, we respect and protect the rights of members of the Harvard community to express their views on matters of public debate.
We don't respect such rights at all.
These rights, of course, are tempered by the rights of other members of our community to express their views, and for all of us to live, study, and work in an educationally appropriate environment.
We're kind of hoping that our right-wing students will get mad enough to mobilize their family money and connections to help us crush OccupyHarvard. So we're trying to goad them into action by making their lives a bit difficult.
Last night, people with Harvard identification were permitted access to the Yard and, consistent with our values as an educational institution, had the ability to demonstrate, to speak, and to engage in other expressive conduct.
We locked down Harvard Yard to stop OccupyHarvard and its supporters from exercising their human rights to free speech and assembly. And to prevent a major Occupy encampment from forming in what we all understand is a very appropriate place indeed.
Second, the University has a fundamental obligation to be attentive to the safety, security, and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff on campus.
We're looking for a more or less acceptable reason to unleash our little army of police and security guards on OccupyHarvard.
The events of last night raised safety concerns: the number of demonstrators was large, many of the demonstrators were not from Harvard, and specific behaviors were troubling.
We expected a large turnout - especially from outside of Harvard - because we know how much everyone hates our guts. We were troubled that the planned demonstration would show us up for our role in training the elites that are destroying the planet. And possibly build enough strength to change us back to the public school we once were. We hear they're planning to rename us (and MIT, another former public school) UMass Cambridge.
For this reason, the University took what we consider to be appropriate security precautions as the situation evolved during the evening.
We preemptively executed a longstanding plan to lock down Harvard Yard - which we concocted shortly after the success of the Harvard Living Wage Campaign's Massachusetts Hall sit-in in 2001 - well before the scheduled 7 p.m. start time of the well-advertised first OccupyHarvard General Assembly. We've been telling any press that wasn't around to witness our actions yesterday that we only locked down the Yard after the protest meeting started. But that's not really what went down.
The decision by students and other members of the Harvard community to erect tents in the Yard will require that the University continue with heightened security measures for the time being.
We will do our best to keep the press and public away from Harvard Yard; so we can raid and destroy the OccupyHarvard encampment as soon as possible - probably in the dead of night.
Most important, no one without Harvard identification will be permitted into the Yard. We recognize and apologize for the inconvenience this will cause to students, faculty, staff, and neighbors.
We're hoping to drive a wedge between OccupyHarvard protestors and the rest of the student body by blaming the protestors for the inconvenience we've created for all the students, staff and faculty who live and/or work on Harvard Yard. We also hope to vex neighbors that regularly cut through the yard on their way to the Harvard Square T stop. Which is good for laughs if nothing else.
Securing access to the Yard is necessary for the safety of the freshmen and others who live and work in the Yard, for the students who will be sleeping outdoors as part of the protest, and for the overall campus.
But seriously, we're really just hoping to create the breathing room we need to have our cops bust up the OccupyHarvard camp and smack our resident troublemakers around some in a day or three. We'll watch the whole thing on our campus security monitors and nosh on popcorn and organic fruits.
Executive Vice President
Flak catchers for Harvard president Drew Gilpin-Faust and the Harvard Corporation.
Jason Pramas is the Open Media Boston Minister of Truthiness (and Editor/Publisher). He plans to be the first president of UMass Cambridge.
(No organic fruits were harmed in the making of this article.)