Harvard Faculty Sign Living Wage Petition

Over 90 Harvard faculty members stepped up to the plate in the fight for a Harvard living wage on Friday in an open letter to President Neil L. Rudenstine and Provost Harvey V. Fineberg '67.

Students and faculty involved in the Harvard Living Wage Campaign, which organized the letter, said this latest effort may give the campaign the kind of legitimacy and appeal that would make the University respond.

The campaign is calling for Harvard to pay all its employees a living wage--$10 an hour as defined by the city of Cambridge.

"At times the administration has labeled [the campaign] as just a student movement. It's more of a broadbased community movement," said Greg Halpern '99, a campaign member.

Associate Professor of Government and Social Studies Pratap B. Mehta said it was important for faculty to support students' legitimate concerns.

"It just struck me that if the students are taking up what seems like reasonable goals the faculty can lend their voice," Mehta said.

The administration has not yet responded to the letter, but the campaign will be having a rally tomorrow where Richard J. Parker, a lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government, will speak on behalf of fellow faculty supporters.

Lecturer in Social Studies Alan J. Keenan said he had high expectations for the administration's response to the letter.

"I would hope that they would take the opinions of the signers of the petition and the opinions of those pressing them for this policy seriously and act on it positively," he said.

The campaign originally contacted faculty members through events or by approaching them after classes.

For instance, DuBois Professor of the Humanities Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. Signed the petition at the March 9 "Rally for Justice" organized by the campaign, the Progressive Student Labor Movement and the Coalition Against Sexual Violence.

"When he walked [into University Hall], he signed the petition, and everyone cheered," Halpern said.

After 15 signatures were initially collected, students sent out a five-page mailing to faculty members that included a two-page fact sheet and a copy of the signed letter.

Campaign members also approached their professors after class.

"I think I must have had at least eight to nine different students come and talk to me," Mehta said.

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