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Epps Regrets Protest Decision

By Rachel K. Sobel, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

In an interview with The Crimson yesterday, Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III apologized for his change in position regarding the location of student protesters for Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit last weekend.

"They have a legitimate complaint about a change in position and I'm very sorry about that," he said.

According to Katie P. Sigelman '99, undergraduate director of Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), the coordinators of the protest were outraged that the University rescinded its agreement to allow Harvard students to demonstrate on Harvard property and neglected to inform them.

Sigelman said SFT found out about the change in The Harvard Gazette.

"It's frustrating for us to find out secondhand from a Harvard publication about an agreement that we thought we had already solidified," she said.

According to Epps, he had originally given the protesters permission to occupy space near the Science Center, but was later forced to reverse his decision for security reasons.

"I then changed that position because I was informed by the chief of Harvard police that the Secret Service had decided that locating the rally there created a serious security risk," he said.

According to Epps, Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) Chief Francis D. "Bud" Riley had told him that the Secret Service intended to use the underpass as a possible exit route for the Chinese president and wanted to clear the area around the Science Center.

Epps said he tried to contact the organizers on Thursday to discuss the change, but could not contact them.

When Epps reached the SFT members on Friday, he said that he told them that they could protest outside of William James Hall.

According to Epps, this was a "reason-able alternative site because it had a view of the arrival of the President and provided ample opportunity for protest."

But student protesters also said that the University gave preferential treatment to pro-Jiang demonstrators.

In an e-mail sent to members of SFT, Metta K. McGarvey, treasurer of the Divinity School chapter of the SFT, criticized the presence of non-Harvard, pro-Jiang supporters on Harvard property which, she said, was contrary to the University's policy.

In preparation for Jiang's arrival, the University made a policy that only Harvard students would be allowed on Harvard property.

According to McGarvey, the Design School opened shortly before Jiang's arrival to allow "hundreds of pro-Jiang supporters [to fill] the sidewalk to greet him."

"Not only were [the protesters] housed inside a Harvard building hidden until the crucial moment, but they also were allowed on the prime location side-walk where all others, including Harvard students, were denied access," she said.

Epps said that he was aware of the presence of pro-Jiang supporters at the Design School, but referred further questions to HUPD.

Peggy A. McNamara, spokesperson for the HUPD, could not be reached for comment last night.

Other members of the SFT agreed with McGarvey and said that the University's actions were unfair.

Jennifer Campanelli, a graduate student who is a member of SFT, said that Harvard's actions were like a "double-whammy."

"I don't know who arranged it or what," she said. "I haven't heard any justification from Harvard about why they welcomed Jiang supporters when they lied to us and threw us off their property."

McGarvey sent her e-mail to SFT members and to other activist groups worldwide. She said she hoped other activists could help them deal with "an appalling situation behind the scenes at Harvard."

"There was such irony that we were there to protest some man who represents the worst in repressing free speech," she said. "In a very slight but significant way, Harvard also felt the need to repress our freedom of speech.

When Epps reached the SFT members on Friday, he said that he told them that they could protest outside of William James Hall.

According to Epps, this was a "reason-able alternative site because it had a view of the arrival of the President and provided ample opportunity for protest."

But student protesters also said that the University gave preferential treatment to pro-Jiang demonstrators.

In an e-mail sent to members of SFT, Metta K. McGarvey, treasurer of the Divinity School chapter of the SFT, criticized the presence of non-Harvard, pro-Jiang supporters on Harvard property which, she said, was contrary to the University's policy.

In preparation for Jiang's arrival, the University made a policy that only Harvard students would be allowed on Harvard property.

According to McGarvey, the Design School opened shortly before Jiang's arrival to allow "hundreds of pro-Jiang supporters [to fill] the sidewalk to greet him."

"Not only were [the protesters] housed inside a Harvard building hidden until the crucial moment, but they also were allowed on the prime location side-walk where all others, including Harvard students, were denied access," she said.

Epps said that he was aware of the presence of pro-Jiang supporters at the Design School, but referred further questions to HUPD.

Peggy A. McNamara, spokesperson for the HUPD, could not be reached for comment last night.

Other members of the SFT agreed with McGarvey and said that the University's actions were unfair.

Jennifer Campanelli, a graduate student who is a member of SFT, said that Harvard's actions were like a "double-whammy."

"I don't know who arranged it or what," she said. "I haven't heard any justification from Harvard about why they welcomed Jiang supporters when they lied to us and threw us off their property."

McGarvey sent her e-mail to SFT members and to other activist groups worldwide. She said she hoped other activists could help them deal with "an appalling situation behind the scenes at Harvard."

"There was such irony that we were there to protest some man who represents the worst in repressing free speech," she said. "In a very slight but significant way, Harvard also felt the need to repress our freedom of speech.

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