Harvard University’s campus has been dormant since last spring, and as COVID-19 cases rise through the winter, it’s unclear when normal classes will resume. The administration recently announced that the majority of the university’s staff would continue to work remotely through June 2021. For the janitorial staff, however, work never ended. Roughly 700 janitorial workers have held onto their jobs through the pandemic, maintaining their full union wages, even though in some cases they are working on a reduced schedule. But for hundreds of subcontracted frontline workers, next year may bring a round of layoffs at the worst possible time.
This is not a decision that our campaign arrived at lightly. Turning to the courts is a last resort. Having tried multiple channels, from protests to petitions to rallies to teach-ins to reports to non-official and official meetings, but finding no relief, we have been forced to file this lawsuit against the President and Fellows of Harvard College, the Harvard Management Company, Lawrence Bacow in his capacity as President of Harvard University, and William Lee in his capacity as Senior Fellow.
Over 100 students from Harvard Law School staged a public protest against a recruitment dinner hosted by law firm Paul Weiss on Wednesday night, calling for the company to cut ties with fossil fuel giant Exxon. In a statement, the demonstrators said they were taking action because of the severity of the climate crisis. "This is a do-or-die moment in human history," said student Aaron Regunberg, one of the action's leaders, in a statement. "We have just a few years left to rein in corporate polluters and address the climate crisis."
Despite its impressive name, the HSPH has earned an unsavory reputation for taking rich contributions from polluters in exchange for producing scientific “research” that fortifies corporate profit-taking. Big Tobacco, the chemical industry, Detroit automakers, corporate food processors, and industrial meat and grain barons have all turned to HSPH for corporate-friendly science anointed with the imprimatur of the Harvard name. HSPH’s iconic founder, Fredrick Stare, proudly bore the sobriquet “Mr. Sugar” for his adamant defense of a sugar-only diet. Stare’s sweet tooth garnered HSPH millions of dollars in research grants from Kellogg’s, General Mills and Coca-Cola. In exchange for soda industry lucre, Stare obligingly provided the scientific conclusion that a cold Coke was “a healthy between-meals snack.”
Shouting “people over profits” and throwing pill bottles on the floor, more than 30 demonstrators held a “die-in” in Harvard's Arthur M. Sackler Museum Friday to protest its connections to a family they said spurred on the opioid crisis and profited from addiction nationwide. Led by photographer Nan Goldin—whose works are displayed in the museum—protesters demanded Harvard refuse future funding from the Sacklers. They also urged the Sackler family to invest in the overdose reversal drug naloxone, safe injection facilities, and medication that can combat addiction. They charged that the family, which helps lead the multi-billion dollar drug company Purdue Pharmaceuticals, knew the pain relief drug OxyContin was highly addictive but downplayed its dangers when marketing it to doctors.
By Spencer Buell for Boston Daily - Protesters, some standing with their fists in the air and waving signs that included the words “white supremacist,” swarmed to greet Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Thursday night at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. DeVos, despised by advocates for public schools and victims of on-campus sexual assault, was there to give a talk about her pro-“school choice” views on education. As she has done since her appointment to the position by the Trump administration, DeVos in her speech argued for the promotion of alternatives to public schools, advocating for policies that would give parents the option to send their kids to privately-run charter schools, diverting funding from public schools pay for it. “I came into office with a core belief: it is the inalienable right and responsibility of parents to choose the learning environment that best meets their child’s unique, individual needs,” she said, according to prepared remarks provided by the Department of the Education. “Now, I’ve been called the ‘school choice Secretary’ by some,” she continued, “I think it’s meant as an insult, but I wear it as a badge of honor!” During the speech, video taken at the event shows a pair of students standing up silently in their chairs and unfurling a pair of signs. One read “white supremacist” in all-caps. The other read “Our students are not 4 sale.” Dozens more students stood silently in the hall, also brandishing signs.
By Francine Prose for The Guardian. Boston, MA - I graduated from Harvard in 1968. (Officially, my diploma was from Radcliffe, the now disbanded women’s college, but all of our classes were at Harvard.) That year, Harvard’s graduation speaker was the shah of Iran, and many of us wore black armbands and boycotted the ceremony to protest against the oppressive Iranian government’s human rights violations. In 1993, I returned for our 25th reunion. The graduation speaker was Colin Powell, the defense secretary, who had supported the Clinton administration’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay members of the military.
By Kevin Gosztola for The Guardian - The Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School revoked an invitation for United States military whistleblower Chelsea Manning to serve as a visiting fellow after intense pressure from the CIA. According to the Harvard Crimson, the school newspaper, "high-ranking current and former CIA officials" convinced the Dean of the Kennedy School of Government to reverse course. Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director, canceled his appearance at the school on September 14. He wrote a letter to the director of the Intelligence and Defense Projects at Harvard Kennedy that declared, "Ms. Manning betrayed her country and was found guilty of 17 serious crimes for leaking classified information to Wikileaks. Indeed, Ms. Manning stands against everything the brave men and women I serve alongside stand for." Former CIA director Mike Morell resigned from his position as a senior fellow at the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School. His statement bore a distinct similarity to Pompeo’s statement. "Please know that I am fully aware that Belfer and the IOP are separate institutions within the Kennedy School and that, most likely, Belfer had nothing to do with the invitation of Ms. Manning to be a fellow at IOP," Morell stated. "But, as an institution, the Kennedy School's decision will assist Ms. Manning in her long-standing effort to legitimize the criminal path that she took to prominence, an attempt that may encourage others to leak classified information as well."
By Ed Pilkington for The Guardian - Chelsea Manning, the former US soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of state secrets and served seven years in military prison, abruptly terminated a phone call with the dean of the Harvard Kennedy school in an expression of her dismay at his decision to revoke her visiting fellowship in the face of severe pressure from the CIA. Manning ended the conversation on Thursday as the dean, Douglas Elmendorf, tried to justify to her his decision to cancel the fellowship only a day after it had been announced. The dean had said he needed to talk to Manning “urgently” after CIA figures first raised their objection to Harvard offering the whistleblower a place among its 2017-18 visiting speaker program – raising the prospect that one of America’s most prestigious academic institutions had kowtowed to pressure from the intelligence services. Manning’s invitation to address students of the school’s Institute of Politics was denounced by Mike Pompeo, the CIA director who cancelled an appearance at Harvard on Thursday, and by former deputy director of the agency Mike Morell, who resigned his own visiting fellowship in protest at what the two men described as the honoring of a “traitor”. Details of the phone call were shared with the Guardian by a source who was present at the time of the conversation. Manning had just stepped off stage in San Francisco where she was receiving a global freedom of information award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
By Benjamin Clayton for Independent - There are difficult questions for Chelsea Manning to answer. As a visiting fellow – someone expected to speak publicly, answer questions, and be confronted by different opinions – everyone might have benefited. It is ironic that the most powerful most fear powerlessness. Enter Harvard University. This week, wobbled by pressure from the CIA and other institutions, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government rescinded its invitation to Chelsea Manning to become a visiting fellow at its Institute of Politics. With that, the most powerful university in the world silenced a twenty-nine-year-old transgender traitor-cum-hero. The facts of the case are these. In 2007, then-Bradley Manning enlisted in the Unites States Army. Six weeks later, she was almost discharged, partly due to the effects of being bullied by recruits. Amidst a national deficit of soldiers, however, the discharge was revoked and she was later trained in intelligence before being deployed to Iraq. Her first contact with WikiLeaks occurred in January 2010, and on 3 February she sent them roughly 490,000 documents. Over time, she sent more, including footage of a helicopter attack on Iraqi civilians in 2007. Manning was arrested in May 2010, convicted by court-martial in July 2013, and sentenced to thirty-five years confinement in August 2013; ultimately, this sentence was commuted by Barack Obama shortly before he left office.
By Binoy Kampmark for Global Research - The last assertion is precisely the reason why Manning should be garlanded with floral tributes of acknowledgement on getting to the Kennedy School. Even President Barack Obama, whose administration proved crack addicted to prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, had to concede as a presidential candidate that revealing abuses and corruptions were indispensable to the health of the republic. Despite hardening on getting to the White House, Obama did issue an executive order and sign a law beefing up whistleblower protections in 2012. As ever, he preferred to keep the intelligence community in its traditional, singular nook, where officials remain squeamish about notions that a whistleblower might be anything better than a flag tarnishing traitor. Obama did make one concession on Manning’s legacy in reducing her draconian 35-year old prison sentence, deeming it “very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received.” Not exactly the sort of statement to expect for a person who had supposedly put US soldiers at such mortal risk. The president, nevertheless, made it unquestionably clear that Manning was an example of gold standard deviance, what should not be done when advancing a cause. “I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent.” The Manning appointment cast an eager cat amongst very puzzle pigeons. Appearances were cancelled, notes sent more in sorry than anger.
By Emma Kerr for Bustle - Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director, resigned from his Harvard fellowship because the university appointed Chelsea Manning to one as well. Harvard announced on Wednesday Manning would be added as a fellow to the school's John F. Kennedy School of Government, citing her network security expertise and activism for transgender rights on Twitter. In response, Morell sent a letter of resignation to Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf that read: I cannot be part of an organization — The Kennedy School — that honors convicted felon and leaker of classified information. Manning served seven years in prison after being convicted in 2013 for releasing confidential military documents and sentenced to 35 years in prison. She was pardoned by former President Barack Obama in January. In his resignation, Morell, who was twice acting director of the CIA, said he believes the country should “stand up against any efforts to justify leaks of sensitive national security information.” He wrote: Senior leaders in our military have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms. Manning put the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk. As an institution, the Kennedy School's decision will assist Ms. Manning in her log-standing efforts to legitimize the criminal path that she took to prominence, an attempt that may encourage others to leak classified information as well.
By Staff of Associated Press -The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase. The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation’s highest — and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard. Since 2015, California’s per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%. New York is a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000. Critics say with fewer inmates, the costs should be falling. “Now that we’re incarcerating less, we haven’t ramped the system back down,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the left-leaning California Budget & Policy Center. For example, the corrections department has one employee for every two inmates, compared with one employee for roughly every four inmates in 1994.
By Oliver Milman for The Guardian - Harvard University is “pausing” investments in some fossil fuel interests following a five-year campaign by some students and environment groups to pressure the university to divest itself from coal, oil and gas. The elite university has come under fire for investing its $36bn endowment in a portfolio that contains fossil fuel companies and has until now resisted a concerted divestment campaign that has also targeted other US universities. However, Colin Butterfield, head of natural resources at the Harvard Management Company, said that climate change is a “huge problem” and that “for now, we are pausing minerals and oil and gas.” Butterfield said that Harvard indirectly invests in fossil fuels through outside funds, although the management company has previously signalled that it is moving away from coal due to a lack of profitability. “What I can tell you is, from my area, I could honestly say that I doubt – I can’t say never, because never say never – but I doubt that we would ever make a direct investment with fossil fuels,” he said.
By Ed Childs for Workers World - Well in advance of the Harvard University Dining Service strike, we knew we would need to build a solidarity coalition to take on the Harvard Corporation. We spent months laying the groundwork. (For Part 1, about strike preparations, go to tinyurl.com/z3goecw.) Once the strike began the coalition was critical. Harvard Medical School students staged two walkouts in support of the striking HUDS workers. The Student Labor Action Movement played a big role; they organized a dinner for us on campus where faculty, administrators, deans, parents and our workers spoke. Campus environmentalists saw worker health as necessary for a healthy campus environment. The Jewish group Hillel hosted meetings and fed us, and rabbis spoke at our rallies.