Lowell Lecture Hall hosted the performance of a lifetime yesterday, when a popular government class was disrupted by a band of protesters.
At 2 p.m. yesterday, the three professors of Government 1091: "Liberalism and Conservatism in American Politics" entered the hall.
Professor of Government Michael J. Sandel and Visiting Lecturer on Government George F. Will seated themselves while Kenan Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield '53 approached the podium to introduce Will.
Then Adam Richards '97 stepped on stage carrying a bou-
Richards, along with Catherine S. Corman '96, members of the week-old group "Strategic Offense," had come to protest the presence of Mansfield and Will on the Harvard faculty. Armed with flowers, they approached the two discomfited lecturers and presented them with mock prizes: the "David Duke Award for Faculty Excellence" for Mansfield and the "Heinrich Himmler Award for Social Vision" for Will.
As Richards and Corman finished speaking, approximately 10 to 15 members of Strategic Offense poured onto the stage from every corner of the auditorium.
The group, which had distributed fliers before the lecture announcing their plans, bore placards which read "Harvard is White," "Harvard is Male," "Harvard is Straight," "Harvard is Rich" and "Harvard is Christian."
At the same moment, another group seated on the balcony unfurled a long white banner with the words "37 Years of Family Values, 0 Years of Truth." Thirty-seven years refers to Mansfield's tenure at Harvard, according to a group member.
As the audience erupted into whistles, cheers and catcalls, Joshua Oppenheimer '96-'97 rose from his seat in the center of the auditorium. Oppenheimer, who wore a black mini-dress with boa trim, a broad-rimmed hat and cats-eye rhinestone sunglasses, began to blow a whistle and shout above the pandemonium.
"What do we want?" he cried. "We want a white Harvard," the protesters responded. "When do we want it?" he asked. "Now!" they shouted. As Oppenheimer repeated this call and response, a woman stood up from the center section of the auditorium.
"Is this a university or a circus?" she called, her words momentarily stunning the crowd into silence. "This [the classroom environment] is the way we are supposed to discuss problems." After a second's pause a male voice shouted "Sit down."
The woman sat surrounded by audience laughter as the protesters continued their demonstration and the lecturers remained expressionless on stage.
After two more repetitions of Oppenheimer's call and response, one of the protesters shouted "Enjoy the class!" Then the crowd on stage, as well as approximately 15 students who had remained in the audience, fled the auditorium.
The entire demonstration lasted roughly five minutes.
As the audience sat in shocked silence, Mansfield stepped back to the podium and completed his introduction of Will in a calm voice. Although he did not refer directly to the protest, he did note that Will had "the fortune of not belonging to the Harvard family of feminists and other quacks." His remark was met by a wave of applause from the audience.