Harvard University is a name that needs no introduction. Considered one of the most prestigious universities in the world, it has an admission rate of a mere 5.9%. Being a part of it is nothing short of an honor for a student. Not only famous for its affluent graduates, the university has made a reputation out of several programs aimed at providing financial assistance to students.
Despite the various steps the university has taken such as admitting women and covering fireplaces in rooms as a safety precaution, mention of the university’s name brings up images of elite students enjoying their hors d’oeuvres on silver platters. Somewhere it was this perception of the university that led to the unrest.
On 9th November, 2011, hundreds of students angrily protested against Harvard policies. The idea was to create awareness among individuals towards the university’s irresponsible investment strategies that were clearly favoring the rich.
As the protest continued to bring embarrassment to the institute’s standards, the angry mob did not hesitate to show their disapproval of the system. Coming from a variety of Harvard schools, the protestors claimed that the university has attempted time and again to benefit the privileged student minority at the expense of the majority’s suffering.
The protestors identified themselves with the Occupy Boston movement and kept on demanding a university that takes into account the welfare of the 99%, rather than the affluent 1%. The mob not only included students but faculty members as well who expressed their discontent for the institute’s biased investment policies and economic ideologies.
The other issue the protestors brought forward was the wage inequity as many of the protestors believed that their janitors were paid lower. The ratio between the pay of the highest and lowest paid employee was 180:1 which was deemed unjustified by all those who were present.
One has to bear in mind that Harvard is essentially a diverse community including both the 99% and 1%. However, those who occupied Harvard yard with tents shed some light on grievances specific to the institute as well as demands of national movement.
The occupiers expressed their opinion that Harvard should not consider reinvesting in a hotel chain that is not only controversial, but is not even bringing any benefit to the student body. Secondly, protesters further demanded that the custodian’s wishes should be taken into account as far as contract negotiations are concerned.
The protest continued till 19th December, 2011. Many believed the criticism to be utterly unconstructive because Harvard University has taken impressive strides fostering equality in the past. Another flaw with the movement was that instead of targeting those who could have made a difference, such as the administrators and decision-makers, occupiers took matters into their own hand. This was viewed as an attack on every student who could have supported the protest.
Bottom-line, the corporization of such higher education institutes should be discouraged by all means. Instead of protesting, students should enrich their knowledge base to the extent that allows them to play an influential role in shaping the economy. Only then will they be able to remedy injustice prevalent in society at all levels.