Women's Group Seizes Harvard Building



Demand Low-Income Housing And Permanent Women's Center

About 150 women ended a march celebrating International Women's Day by seizing a Harvard building Saturday afternoon.

The Architectural Technology Workshop, located at 888 Memorial Drive near Peabody Terrace, houses design workshops and two classes per week in the Graduate School of Design. The building is part of the Treelands site and is slated for demolition in the plan to construct new graduate school housing.

The group of organizers included women from organizations including Bread and Roses, the Old Mole Women's Caucus, and Gay Women's Liberation.

At 7:15 Saturday, Maurice Kilbridge, dean of the Graduate School of Design, read a statement to the occupants calling the seizure "unauthorized and unlawful." The statement also said the women were subject to "grave dangers" because of the inadequate plumbing and heating facilities. The occupiers managed to restore the plumbing facilities by Sunday afternoon.

A University statement issued yesterday said that the two classes scheduled to meet in the building on Monday, professor Eli Traum's "Structural Design" and lecturer Fred Moavenzadeh's "Material Technology," will temporarily meet elsewhere.

Women from the Boston area, described by a spokeswoman as "feminist, anti-imperialist, socialist," planned Saturday's march. About eight women organized the building takeover, and few of the marchers themselves knew the building's locale. Harvard had stationed police in the Yard to prevent a seizure there.

In their first statement, issued at 3 p. m., the women declared "this liberated building a women's center where women from all over will be able to meet with each other, exchange ideas and feelings, and determine what we need to do together."

Saturday evening the building was filled with women from Radcliffe, Gay Liberation, and various local women's groups. Occupants and sympathizers provided tables of food and mattresses and child care facilities.

Saturday Night

The atmosphere in the main room was joyous and several women danced and sang. A blackboard was used for sign-ups for guard duty.

By about 1 a. m. many of the women had loft the building and gone home, leaving about three dozen to stay the night.

Yesterday afternoon over a hundred women gathered again at the "Liberated Women's Center" to discuss further plans and tactics.

That meeting reaffirmed the women's intent to occupy the building indefinitely and to continue to provide services of child-care, health referral, legal aid and self-defense to women.

Their 6 p. m. Sunday press release said, "The University has stated that this building is unavailable. We agree. This building now belongs to the women of this city."

During the afternoon meeting, Saundra Graham, president of the Riverside Planning team, and other residents of the neighboring Riverside community joined the women. They have been fighting Harvard for low-cost housing over the past two years. Those at the meeting allied themselves with the Riverside demand, and women in the community offered their active support for the women's center.

The three stated demands of the women occupying the building are:

"That Harvard build low-income housing on this, the Treeland Site, in accordance with the demands of the Riverside Community.

"That Harvard provide a women's center to serve the needs of women of the Boston area.

"That Harvard give us full use of this building, with full facilities (heat, plumbing, electricity, etc.), until it is necessary to tear it down in order to break ground for the Riverside low-income housing."

The women have refused to enter into personal negotiations with Harvard, and will communicate only through press releases.

A rumor circulated yesterday afternoon that police were planning to surround and cordon off the building to prevent more supplies from entering and to force the occupants to leave. However, by 4 p. m.-the time of the anticipated maneuver-nothing had happened.

Robert Tonis, Chief of University Police, said at 12:30 this morning that no bust is imminent. He implied that Archibald Cox '34 will be issuing a statement today.

Cambridge Mayor Alfred E. Vellucci appeared at the door of the building yesterday afternoon and expressed his concern over the lack of heat inside. "Whether they were right or wrong in taking over the building the health and welfare of some people is at stake here," he said last night.

Dean Dunlop, Dean May, and Archibald Cox '34, Harvard's trouble-shooter, each said last night that they have been in informal consultation with other Faculty and Administration members regarding the seizure. None would make any statements or predictions.

Cox said, "There is no present intention of using police to evict people." He refused to say whether that eliminated the possibility of a cordon.

Meeting with Radcliffe students at Bertram Hall last night, Mary I. Bunting, president of Radcliffe, said that the issue of a women's center is "worth investigating. I'm sorry it had to start this way." Bunting said she offered the basement of Putnam House (the old financial aid building, located in the Radcliffe Yard) to RUS last September "for any activity," but RUS never took the initiative.

Radcliffe Women to Keep Mind and Body Together, a group of 10 women, yesterday drew up a petition of support for the occupation which received 830 signatures in the dining halls.

There will be a rally starting at noon on Tuesday at Holyoke Center supporting the women's action. The sympathizers will march to University Hall to present the signed petitions to Dean Dunlop.