Assisted by three Harvard police officers, Harvard Business School (HBS) officials prohibited a group of undergraduates representing the Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM) from handing out leaflets on the Business School campus yesterday morning.
About 15 students began handing out the flyers on in front of the Business School's Baker Library at about 9:10 a.m.
The police and HBS officials arrived at the Library shortly thereafter.
"It took about three seconds for them to come," said Miranda E. Worthen '01, one of the students involved.
Harvard has a policy of no solicitation and no protesting," Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) Officer Laureen Donahue told the members of the Philips Brooks House-affiliated group.
"The University, as you well know, is private property," Donahue said to the students. "Cease and desist handing out the literature on the property."
Sara R. Wunsch, an American Civil Liberties Union spokesperson, said that the police actions are questionable.
"Harvard officials should not be so certain that they can throw people off campus who are handing out leaflets peacefully," Wunsch said.
The University may have interfered with the students' civil rights under Massachusetts law, according to Wunsch.
The student group was handing out a flyer that criticized Business School Professor Regina E. Herzlinger, who is on the Board of Directors of Cardinal Health, a pharmaceutical company based in Dublin, Ohio.
The flyer accuses Cardinal Health of violating workers' rights during a strike at its Peabody, Mass. distribution facility.
"Tell Cardinal Health and Professor Herzlinger to respect workers rights and put the striking workers back to work," the flyer read.
The flyer further accused the company of hiring "goons, some of whom carry machine guns" who "have assaulted and threatened striking workers."
Connie Kastelnik, a spokesperson for Cardinal Health, said the allegations contained in the flyer are "totally false."
The National Labor Relations Board cleared Cardinal Health of wrongdoing in litigation brought by the strikers, according to letters and documents describing the issue provided by Cardinal Health.
In regard to the allegation that the employer violated the workers rights by "sponsoring, encouraging and participating in acts of violence against strikers, the investigation did not reveal unlawful conduct on the part of the employer," Rosemary Pye, Regional Director the National Labor Relations Board, wrote in a letter to Gabriel Dumont, a Cardinal attorney.
Kastelnik conceded, however, that a security firm that Cardinal retained at one time did commit various rights violations and that Cardinal dismissed them as soon as it learned of their behavior. The security firm named on the students' flyer did not do anything wrong, she said.
In addition to Donahue, HUPD Sargeant Arthur Fitzhugh, a second police officer, a Security Systems International officer and five HBS officials confronted the students.
HUPD spokesperson Peggy McNamara identified the three HUPD officers on the scene.
When one of the students asked whether the Business School allows free speech, a Business School official who refused to identify himself said, "We don't have a policy like that here."
After the interruption, several students distributed the leaflets around the periphery of the campus.
HBS students had mixed reactions to the administration's ultimatum to the students.
Some students said that the members of the labor group should be allowed to hand out the flyers peacefully.
"I'm all for free speech," said Enrico M. Brosio, a first-year MBA student.
Others said they felt that property laws justified the administration's actions.
"Is the Business School private property?" said a second year student who requested anonymity. "It is. I'd say it is fair enough to [prohibit leafletting]."
Herzlinger was traveling on the West Coast and could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Kastelnik said that although Herzlinger is a member of the Board of Directors of Cardinal Health, she had no involvement with the alleged Peabody incidents.
Daniel M. Hennefeld '99, one of the students handing out leaflets, said that he is not aware whether Herzlinger is connected with the incidents.
"I don't know that she herself has had any personal involvement with the security firm," he said.