Graduate Students Criticize Transportation, Library Hours

Graduate students identified safety and transportation as two major concerns at an open forum hosted by the Harvard Graduate Council (HGC) last night.

In the wake of a sexual assault near the River Houses earlier this week, students criticized perceived inefficiencies in Safety Walk, a student-run escort program.

“[The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ (GSAS) Graduate Student Council] has reports from students in GSAS who have repeatedly called Safety Walk for up to three hours and yet have been unable to get any service at all, period,” said one graduate student, who is also a representative on the Graduate Student Council.

He and other students said that the program’s volunteer and mostly undergraduate staff contributed to the lack of responsiveness, and suggested that some form of compensation be involved as added incentive.

Beata A. Zolovska ’02, president of the HGC—which acts as the student government for all 10 of the University’s graduate and professional schools—broached the issue of transportation, suggesting the M2 shuttle service, which runs between Cambridge and Harvard Medical School’s Longwood campus, extend runs beyond 11 p.m. and make more stops.

Other students expressed concerns about walking in Longwood in the early morning hours. The lack of lighting makes the area unsafe, they said. Identifying the need for study space—and noting Lamont’s 12:45 a.m. closing time—members of HGC also brought up the possibility of a 24-hour library.

Four of the eight Ivy Leagues have libraries open at all hours of the day, co-chair of the Student Affairs Committee Michael J. Novielli said, adding that while Columbia’s endowment hardly matches Harvard’s, that university still manages to keep its library available to students. “Bunker Hill Community College has a 24-hour library,” the HGC secretary Riffat Manasia added.

Because Lamont draws a large number of undergraduates, students said that facility would be an ideal place to push for a 24-hour library, discussing the possibility of a partnership with the Undergraduate Council.

“The UC arguably has more weight, unfortunately,” Novielli said.

Students also discussed ways to ease international students into Harvard, proposing the possibility of a welcome party to foster a stronger sense of community across the University’s graduate schools.

While several from the GSAS expressed concerns over the USA Patriot’s Act and whether or not the HGC had developed a stance on it, the council said that was a topic still open to discussion.