Students Walk Out of Social Studies 10
Forty students leave lecture in protest of Marty Peretz fund.
Around 40 students walked out of the Social Studies 10 lecture yesterday in protest of the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies’s decision to accept a $650,000 undergraduate research fund named in honor of former Harvard Professor Martin “Marty” H. Peretz, who has come under fire for what protestors describe as a 25-year history of making bigoted remarks.
Before class began, several students involved in the protest greeted their peers outside the Social Studies 10 Sever Hall classroom, distributing white slips of paper which declared, “We, the Social Studies concentrators of 2013, demand that the name of the Martin Peretz fund be changed: A 25-Year Record of Racism Cannot Be Erased With $650,000.”
According to students involved in the walkout, 39 students of about 150 students stood up and left lecture minutes after class began. Walkout demonstrators were supposed to recite the message on the sheets, but they left before doing so.
“This particular demonstration may have been small, but we are hoping that this can turn into a long-term movement for racism and sexism,” said Nancy Y. Xie ’13, who participated in the walkout. “People respect Harvard—if we can take the lead, people will follow.”
Other students highlighted their concern about what they perceived as Peretz’s history of racist comments.
“This is about appreciating diversity and promoting it,” Adan Acevedo ’13 said.
Martin A. Evelyn ’13 said because “being at Harvard means being a voice,” the community is responsible to “set a precedent” against enduring racism.
“This is our small step towards a new Harvard that lives up to the ideals,” Evelyn said.
But the protest was met with little reaction from Andrew Jewett, one of the two course instructors.
After the last protestor walked out of class, Jewett turned to the class, asking “Okay, where were we?” before resuming the lecture.
Jewett had been informed of the scheduled protest beforehand, telling the class “Lets go ahead and get started today—I understand we have a walkout scheduled.”
The walkout follows a week of petitions and other protests, including a demonstration attended by Social Studies staff, students, and alumni last Saturday at the Social Studies 50th anniversary celebration during which Peretz was honored.
—Staff writer Gautam S. Kumar can be reached at email@example.com.