Leaders of a student anti-war group vowed to stage a demonstration today to protest the presence of military recruiters at the University-sponsored Career Forum—even as Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd warned that the planned rally is “an unauthorized event.”
Kidd told members of the Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice (HIPJ) that campus police “would certainly be present” at their rally, but she added in an e-mail to The Crimson yesterday that she “cannot comment on what would happen with an unpermitted protest.”
Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) Chief Francis D. “Bud” Riley said, though, that a confrontation between protesters and campus police is unlikely. “We’re not going to be mass-arresting people,” he said yesterday.
The Army, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Marine Corps will be among the 140 organizations represented at the forum inside the Gordon Track and Tennis Center today, according to William Wright-Swadel, who is director of the Office of Career Services (OCS).
Wright-Swadel said that he granted permission to the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA) “to distribute fliers to students coming from and going to the Career Forum.” The BGLTSA opposes the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which bars openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the armed forces.
The BGLTSA co-chairman, Ryan R. Thoreson ’07, wrote in an e-mail last night that his group’s goal “is not to disrupt the military’s efforts” and that the protest will be “educational, not confrontational.”
HIPJ did not apply for a protest permit until yesterday afternoon. The Harvard College Dean’s Office sent an e-mail to the group late yesterday afternoon saying that the application “has been rejected by the Dean’s Office” and that HIPJ would need to obtain permission from Wright-Swadel. Wright-Swadel said yesterday evening that he had not been contacted by HIPJ.
Still, HIPJ activist Johnhenry R. “Hank” Gonzalez ’06 said that the group would meet in front of University Hall today at 11 a.m. and march across the river to the track center.
That means HIPJ protesters will march off Harvard property and beyond the campus police’s jurisdiction. Riley said that Cambridge, Boston, and state police officers could arrest student protesters if the march blocks traffic.
According to Gonzalez, HIPJ has not registered as an official student organization and therefore is not eligible to apply for a protest permit. HIPJ is a non-hierarchical organization and does not have designated student officers.
Even though the same-sex rights rally and the anti-war demonstration are separate—and only BGLTSA has a protest permit—Riley said that “more than likely, this will be viewed as one event.”
In April, Kidd told anti-war activists from a group called the Harvard Social Forum that they would not be allowed to stage a rally outside an OCS event, in the Science Center, that would feature panelists from the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. But just hours before the rally was set to begin, she sent an e-mail to organizers of the rally informing them that they would be allowed to hold a “peaceful demonstration” even though they had not gone through the proper procedure for obtaining a permit.
Wright-Swadel said that OCS, which serves the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, has included military recruiters at its career fair for at least a decade.
Harvard Law School has long denied military recruiters access to its career office because the Pentagon will not sign the school’s nondiscrimination pledge. But the Law School announced last week that it would cooperate with the armed services, after the Pentagon threatened to cut more than $400 million in federal funds to Harvard.
—Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.