When Harvard’s Occupy set up camp in the famous Harvard Yard, the university didn’t evict them or harass them. Instead, the Ivy League institution just made the protest exclusive by cloistering the protestors off from the outside world.
That makes Harvard’s Occupation far different from the boisterous, embattled and gritty Boston Occupation just a few miles away (see the accompanying story).
Occupy Harvard lives in about 20 tents in the heart of the Harvard campus, underneath the John Harvard statue, manned by a group of students who rotate through from the surrounding dorms.
I did neither. I stationed myself at the front desk of the building that contained Harvard’s Department of News and Media Relations. I stayed there for a little over an hour, calling their office repeatedly and mailing the director to say I was right downstairs, and wanted to interview the Occupy. Eventually, they sent a staffer to walk me past the guards. She stood quietly by in the cold and waited as I explored Harvard’s small Occupy and spoke with its participants.
They’ve attracted high-profile visitors including Nobel Peace prize nominee Ahmed Mahar of the Egyptian protests. But even for him, the university did not relent in their policy; Mahar wasn’t allowed into the Yard, and delivered his address through the fence using the people’s mic — where occupiers and other Harvard ID-carrying supporters repeated Mahar in phrase-long chunks.
“Here’s this guy that overthrew a government, and he couldn’t get into Harvard,” says Divinity grad student Jeff Bridges, laughing.