Update on Yard access
January 14, 2012
On Friday afternoon (January 13) Occupy Harvard’s information tent in Harvard Yard was blown over and a geodesic dome was lifted up and carried some distance by wind, endangering passersby and nearly striking one. The University determined that both structures presented safety risks, and the group was asked to remove them. Phillips Brooks House provided space for storage of their materials, and members of the facilities staff assisted in cleaning up the site. In addition, the group was told that the University would work with them to find more appropriate space for their information table. Staff dismantled the dome after the group declined to do so despite the ongoing safety risks presented by the continuing high winds.
December 21, 2011
The University welcomes the decision of Occupy Harvard to remove most of the tents it had erected in Harvard Yard. In light of the voluntary removal of most of the tents and of the discussion yesterday, the University has evaluated the safety and speech considerations it has been seeking to balance from the outset of the encampment, and plans to not require a Harvard ID for access to the Yard from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., starting Thursday, December 22. This access policy will be in effect during the winter break, and will be subject to the following ground rules:
- No additional tents may be erected
- All activity at the two tents is to occur within the hours the Yard is open, with no overnight sleeping or other activity from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
- As noted in our prior communication, the remaining tents are not permanent, and may not be made permanent structures
- The tents are to be staffed and used by Harvard affiliates and will not become a meeting place for other Occupy movements
- Occupy Harvard activities must comply with the practices and policies applicable to the Yard and all safety requirements, including no heating devices or combustible materials of any kind will be stored or used, nor will generators, electrical outlets or hook-ups be used, in or near the tents; protesters will respond appropriately to weather conditions
- Occupy Harvard must contact relevant City of Cambridge agencies, including the Fire Department, to request that they inspect the tents to ensure compliance with applicable safety and related City ordinances
- All protesters are expected to cooperate with University officials, Harvard Police officers, and University Health Services personnel, particularly with regard to security and safety checks
Based on these rules and other considerations, the University will continue to monitor the situation and will make further judgments on Yard access, the remaining tents, and other issues as the situation evolves. It is the University’s strong preference that Occupy Harvard dismantles the remaining tents and pursues its educational and outreach objectives through established mechanisms afforded other student and staff groups on campus. The University would be happy to help facilitate access to space for these activities.
Messages to the Harvard community
December 8, 2011 Guidelines for Yard protesters
November 21, 2011 Letter from President Drew Faust on Occupy
November 14, 2011 Letter from the provost and executive vice president on Occupy
Frequently Asked Questions
Why were protesters permitted to pitch tents in the Yard?
Free speech and the free exchange of ideas are hallmarks of the Harvard experience, and important values for the university community to uphold. We respect and protect the rights of the “Occupy Harvard” protesters to express their views on matters of public debate.
Why were the Yard gates locked?
The University has a fundamental obligation to be attentive to the safety, security, and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff on campus.
The events that occurred on the night that the protesters arrived on campus raised safety concerns: The number of demonstrators was large, many of the demonstrators were not from Harvard, and specific behaviors were troubling.
The gates were temporarily locked when a large group rushed Thayer Gate in an attempt to avoid a Harvard ID check, and a Harvard University Police Department officer was physically accosted and his radio was stolen. For these reasons, the University took what we consider to be appropriate security precautions as the situation evolved during the evening.
The decision by students and other members of the Harvard community to erect tents in the Yard has required that the University continue with heightened security measures for the time being. Specifically, access to Harvard Yard is limited to people with Harvard IDs and pre-arranged guests.
How long will the current security measures remain in place?
We continue to monitor the situation and to make evolving judgments about the appropriate level of security.
Despite the changes to Yard access, the University has been able to accommodate most of the previously scheduled activities taking place in the Yard, which have involved hundreds of community members and their guests.
For the time being, we believe it is appropriate to continue limiting access to the Yard to those with valid Harvard identification and pre-arranged guests.
Which gates are open to people with Harvard ID or guest passes?
Thayer, Widener and Lamont – open 24 hours a day.
Wadsworth - Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7:00 pm. Closed weekends
Johnston Gate – Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Weekends 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Why can’t outsiders camp on Harvard Yard?
We are mindful of the troubling incidents at other Occupy sites. We seek to ensure that the health and safety issues that have arisen elsewhere do not arise here. For the time being, we believe it is appropriate to continue limiting access to the Yard to those with valid Harvard identification and to pre-arranged guests.
How do guests with events on the Yard gain access?
Members of the community who have requests for guest access to the Yard or other questions regarding access should contact the Campus Service Center (firstname.lastname@example.org).
How do first-year students, who live on the Yard, welcome guests? What is the procedure?
First-year students should email their Resident Dean for approval. The Resident Dean will email a response, which the student should print and show to the HUPD officer or security personnel at the gates. The student must accompany their guest and present the Resident Dean’s approval to ensure their guest can gain access.
How many people are sleeping in tents on the Yard?
There are about two dozen tents pitched on the Yard. Most nights, relatively few of them are occupied.
What is the status of the labor negotiations with custodial staff?
Harvard reached agreement on a new 5-year contract with its custodial staff on Nov. 15.