More than 50 students rallied on the Widener Library steps yesterday in a protest against the Republicans' Contract with America program.
"It is not a contract with America," Law School Professor Charles Ogletree said at the rally. "It is a contract on America."
Speakers including Ogletree blasted the Contract, a controversial proposal that favors massive cuts in federal student aid, Medicaid and food stamp programs.
"The Contract targets precisely those most in need and those least equipped to fight it," said Asian American Association President Irene C. Cheng '97. "Its true name is racism, its true name is xenophobia, its true name is injustice."
The rally was endorsed by a broad-based coalition of students groups, including the Asian American Association (AAA), Black Students Association (BSA), College Democrats, Concilio, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Ethnic Studies Action Committee (ESAC), Fuerza, Korean Association for Culture and Community (KACC) and Raza.
The event was organized by Veronica S. Jung '97, who leads the Coalition Against the Contract on America, a newly-formed student group. Harvard's demonstration was part of a larger protest by students at colleges and universities throughout the Boston area.
MIT and Wellesley also held rallies yesterday, and students from Harvard, MIT, Wellesley, Boston University, Northeastern University and Simmons, Wheelock and Lesley Colleges attended a rally at Boston's City Hall yesterday evening.
Jung said she decided to organize her peers because "we need to pull students together to address these issues."
"There's been criticism leveled at college students recently, saying they've been apathetic in responding to pressing issues," she said.
Director of the Harvard Foundation S. Allan Counter, the first of four scheduled speakers, expressed concern for the future of educational funding.
"I support educational opportunities for all Americans," Counter said. "I'm very pleased to see that students still care about these issues and that they will come out and protest them in a peaceful manner."
Cheng discussed the negative impact of the Contract on Asian Americans, and said she was concerned with specific bills which would cut public assistance programs. These laws would affect about one third of Asian-Americans, those who are both foreign-born and legal permanent residents, Cheng said.
Ogletree stressed the need for a united front against the Contract.
"When the Contract came after immigrants, people said, 'I'm not an immigrant,' so they did nothing about it," Ogletree said. "When the "When the Contract comes after you, there willbe no one left to help you," Ogletree said. "It isessential that we be there now for all the peoplevictimized by the Contract."
"When the Contract comes after you, there willbe no one left to help you," Ogletree said. "It isessential that we be there now for all the peoplevictimized by the Contract."