Harvard protesters demand openness, and board may comply
Harvard workers took to protest Thursday to demand the university be a more responsible employer — or at least prove the financial claims it uses to justify cost-saving measures that hurt them.
“One, two, three, four, Harvard is not poor,” was one of the rhymes called out by the couple of dozen protesters walking a picket and handing out fliers outside The Holyoke Center in Harvard Square.
“We want the university to stop exploiting temps and rehire laid-off union members into regular union jobs with benefits,” the fliers say. “We want an end to the layoffs and furloughs.”
Jobs that were made seasonal should be returned to full-year status for workers who want them, protesters said.
Citing the institution’s $26 billion endowment (still down 30 percent in the past fiscal year), $600 million in gifts last year and the $121 million in federal stimulus funds, they called on Harvard to “open their books and try to prove they can’t create more union jobs.”
As part of its austerity measures, Harvard put a massive science campus development in Allston on hold and made $220 million in cuts in its undergraduate divisions — even ending some hot meals for students.
The action comes only three days after Harvard Corp. member Robert Reischauer announced that results of a study would be available soon examining the secrecy of the powerful seven-member board. According to Bloomberg News:
The evaluation may signal more openness and cooperation from the university’s ruling body, said Fred Abernathy, a Harvard engineering professor who last year criticized the corporation’s secrecy in setting Harvard’s financial policies. The corporation oversees budget decisions and chooses the president.
“A review is potentially good news,” Abernathy said in an e-mail yesterday. “Whether or not there is improvement will depend on what is decided.”
The full story is here.