We don't mean to pick on University Attorney Allan A. Ryan Jr. Really we don't. But Mr. Ryan always seems to be in the news, and once a semester, we just get this urge to photograph him, like it or not.
Last January, Ryan--then in the news for his former role as a Justice Department official involved with the prosecution of alleged Nazi war criminal Ivan Demjanjuk--refused to be photographed. So a Crimson photographer was dispatched to Holyoke Center to take a picture of Ryan and he did--just as Ryan emerged from the men's bathroom on the fourth floor.
At the time, Ryan was reported to say to the intrepid photographer, "You guys suck."
Last week, Ryan suddenly decided to take a ride in a Harvard police cruiser. It's not clear why, but with the police department in turmoil and Ryan representing Harvard in numerous discrimination claims filed by police employees, the attorney's presence in the car seemed newsworthy.
Rumor had it that the officer escorting Ryan on the rounds would show up at Holyoke Center around 6 p.m., two hours into the patroller's 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift.
Ryan rolled up in car 293 at 6:15, and he looked to be living a version of the TV show "COPS." He was out on patrol, down and dirty, wearing a yellow raincoat and sipping from a large cup of coffee--just like a real cop.
Ryan walked into Au Bon Pain to get something to eat as the officer waited outside. When he emerged to begin a security check of the Holyoke Arcade, he was ambushed by The Crimson. One reporter approached him from the front, another appeared from behind. The photographer, who had hidden behind a pillar and worried about whether he could focus a night picture, jumped in front of lawyer and started snapping pictures.
Ryan, who is used to dogging Crimson photographers, turned away from the camera, at first slowly. He then got more impatient. "Come on, stop taking pictures," he said twice.
Then, his thoughts turning back to last January's photo stakeout, Ryan angrily made a proposal: "O.K., you want to see me taking a piss again so you can take another picture of that?"
(Editor's note: The attorney was not urinating the last time he was photographed).
The flashes continued as the reporters peppered Ryan with questions. Did this ride-along have anything to do with the on-going contract negotiations between Harvard's patrol officers and the University? Was his trip linked to the rumored search for a new police chief? Was he doing legal research in preparation to defend Harvard?
Ryan dismissed all these inquires, saying that the trip had "absolutely nothing to do with anything. There's nothing to it. I'm just riding around."
"Come on," asked one of the reporters. "Why are you spending your Friday night out here in the rain when you could be home with your family?"
Ryan shot back: "Why are you guys here when you could be finding out crime, corruption and fraud?"
The interview ended after five minutes, and Ryan returned to life as a police officer.
Ryan reportedly expressed displeasure about being ambushed, and he seemed pretty nervous for most of the night. When his police car had to respond to a call, Ryan looked worried and fastened his seat belt.
One senior police official had this advice for Ryan: "He should stick to being a lawyer. Let us handle the streets."
It seems there really is a Harvard Mystique, and even the Harvard president subscribes.
Witness the joke told by President Neil L. Rudenstine in this week's Faculty meeting as he spoke about the University's relationship with ROTC.
"We're not trying to tell the [Clinton] administration what to do," Rudenstine said, "in this case."
The fraction of the Faculty in attendance--not normally noted for its collected quick wit--paused. Then everyone laughed.