UPDATED 4:34 a.m. 11/10/11
A tent city was hastily constructed in front of University Hall Wednesday night during a tense dialogue between “Occupy Harvard” protesters and Dean of Student Life Suzy M. Nelson.
The occupation followed a protest on campus involving more than roughly 350 participants sympathetic to the Occupy movement, during which Harvard Yard was shut down by Harvard University Police officers and Securitas guards.
The protest was intended to convey disapproval of the University’s perceived complicity in growing income inequality across the country. Participants included students, staff, faculty, and community members.
Around 7 p.m., protesters were met with increased security that would prevent Boston residents who were not Harvard affiliates from entering the Yard.
“I think it’s absurd. Do we really need eight guards per gate?” said Nicandro G. L. Iannacci ’13, who has participated in other Occupy events. “The idea that the only people allowed here to have this conversation are members of the Harvard community, specifically, is wrong. Why not welcome more people in?”
In response to the limited access to the Yard, demonstrators relocated to the Harvard Law School campus. As they marched past freshman dorms, they chanted, “Out of your rooms and into the Yard,” rallying the students in the dorms to join.
After a general assembly, protesters left the Law School campus and tried to re-enter the Yard to set up a tent city, but Securitas guards prevented demonstrators from entering by locking the gates.
In a tense exchange, students tried to push their way into the Yard—some holding up their Harvard IDs—while guards pushed back to prevent protesters from breaking through the gates.
Protesters moved to Mass. Ave, attempting to enter the Yard through the Widener Library entrance, but were rebuked by HUPD and Securitas guards.
As protesters tried to enter the Yard through the Widener entrance, confused bystanders watched from across the street.
“I think it’s a little ridiculous. People need to get in, people have things to do.
Harvard is being a little overcautious,” said Leonie A. Oostrom ’15, who was not participating in the protest but lives in the Yard. “I think it’s almost dangerous to have the gates closed.”
Several gates were opened and closed throughout the night, causing confusion among the freshmen who did not know where they could enter, if at all.
After hours of attempting to get into the Yard, students with Harvard IDs were allowed to re-enter in small numbers. Once inside, a group of about 40 protesters convened in the basement of Thayer Hall to plan how they would construct the tent city.