Funding for Institute of Politics study group trips has come under scrutiny after the arrests of four Harvard seniors protesting international trade talks in Miami.
Ilan T. Graff ’05, chair of the Institute of Politics (IOP) Study Groups Committee, said the practice should be reviewed in light of the arrests in Florida.
“We have to think about whether [trips] are the most worthwhile expense of resources,” he said.
Jordan Bar Am ’04, Anne G. Beckett ’04 and Rachel S. Bloomekatz ’04 were arrested Friday afternoon and charged with unlawful assembly, according to the Miami-Dade County Police. A police spokesperson said that Beckett was also charged with resisting arrest without violence.
Madeline S. Elfenbein ’04 was also arrested in Miami on Friday.
The IOP’s Senior Advisory Committee met on Monday and briefly discussed the arrests.
“I think there’s a legitimate question about whether [IOP] money should ever go to subsidize political protest,” said Philip R. Sharp, a member of the committee and former director of the IOP.
But Sharp added that he did not know enough about the situation in Miami to determine whether or not the students’ behavior was acceptable.
The IOP covered airfare for the Miami trip in order to enable members of IOP fellow Tom Hayden’s study group “Activism Now!: Students, Sweatshops and Globalization” to study the thousands of demonstrators present last week.
Hayden, who led the trip to Miami, said that he told the committee—which includes such dignitaries as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy ’54-’56—that the students attended the protest as observers.
“They weren’t particularly seeking to get arrested,” Hayden said. “They were targeted for arrest and I think the charges will be dropped.”
Detective Juan del Castillo, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade police, said yesterday that the police acted appropriately and gave protesters ample time to obey orders to disperse before arresting them.
“They would not disperse,” del Castillo said. “We would have to move a...force up in order to continue to move them.”
Del Castillo said police walked with protesters for the length of a long block after ordering them to disperse before they began making arrests.
Bar Am said the arrests were unnecessary and arbitrary.
“I was taking pictures with my camera and saying, ‘take down your weapons,’” he said. “I had been there less than five minutes when I was arrested.”
Milton S. Gwirtzman ’54, a member of the committee and a former Crimson executive, said that the committee did not consider the arrests in depth during the three and a half hour meeting.
“There was no discussion of the Florida stuff except to get a report from Tom Hayden,” he said.
Gwirtzman said that all of the IOP fellows, as well as a number of student leaders, gave reports to the committee and Hayden talked about the Miami trip as part of his report.