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Lawrence H. Summers won’t hand down his verdict on Harvard’s wage policies at the end of this week, as many expected he would.
Although the official comment period for response to the comprehensive report of the Harvard Committee on Employment and Contracting Policies (HCECP) ends today, Summers said whether those recommendations will be adopted is a decision that may take weeks.
Summers “needs to distill what he’s heard from a wide variety of people inside and outside of the University,” said University spokesperson Joe Wrinn.
The HCECP report, which recommends the University institute wage increases for service workers and equalize the pay of workers directly employed, was released in December. Summers may opt to implement all, some or none of its provisions.
The Living Wage Campaign is planning a rally on Monday in Harvard Square with city councillors and state officials.
AN OPEN LETTER
The Faculty Committee for a Living Wage in recent days has circulated a petition calling on Summers to adopt the report’s recommendations in full, and endorsing the Progressive Student Labor Movement’s (PSLM) demand for wages to be annually adjusted based on the cost of living in the Boston area.
As it was circulated via e-mail, the petition—which now has 120 signatures—used direct quotations from a Crimson staff editorial, without attribution. Eight of the petition’s 15 sentences copy the exact phrasing of a Jan. 7 Crimson editorial written in response to the HCECP report.
Entitled “Faculty Statement on the Living Wage,” the petition was sent to faculty who supported the living wage during last spring’s PSLM sit-in at Mass. Hall.
The petition was distributed with a cover letter written by six Faculty members; Michael Herzfeld, professor of anthropology; Richard Thomas, professor of Greek and Latin; Richard Moran, professor of philosophy; Bradley S. Epps, professor of Romance languages and literatures; Tom Jehn, preceptor in expository writing; and Timothy Patrick McCarthy ’90, lecturer in history and literature. They signed the letter “for the Faculty Committee for a Living Wage.”
When it was circulated, the cover letter and the petition made no mention of The Crimson.
Crimson President C. Matthew MacInnis ’02 said yesterday, “It’s well known that all our work is copyrighted. I’d have a hard time believing any claims to ignorance in that regard.”
Matthew R. Skomarovsky ’02, a member of PSLM and student liaison to the Faculty Committee for a Living Wage, said that the petition was drafted “a few days after” the Crimson editorial ran.
“A few faculty had read the editorial and were impressed by it,” Skomarovsky said. “We thought it was an important point that [the petition] was along the same lines and using the same language as the editorial.”
Crimson reporters attempted yesterday to contact all six Faculty members who signed the petition’s cover letter, but reached only McCarthy, the history and literature lecturer, and Jehn, the expository writing preceptor.
According to McCarthy, the drafting of the petition was “a collaborative effort.” A group that did not include McCarthy worked to draft the petition last week. Altogether, McCarthy said, 10 or 12 people eventually had input into the petition.
“Initially we were all very heartened by The Crimson’s response to the report and [the newspaper’s] position,” he said. “I didn’t read the Crimson editorial. I hadn’t read it—I had only heard about it.”
The Crimson published the petition as a paid advertisement on page 5 of today’s issue.
When the advertisement was originally submitted, a note at the top read: “The following letter is adapted largely from a staff editorial published by The Harvard Crimson on Jan. 7, 2002, which resonated strongly with the views of many faculty.”
The note has since been expanded to explain how the petition was circulated, and the text of the statement has been edited to indicate which sections came from The Crimson.
Skomarovsky said citing The Crimson was the original plan. The intention, he said, was to pass the opinion piece to the faculty committee, get faculty to sign on to the editorial as a show of student-faculty agreement and then send the petition and signatures to The Crimson as an advertisement.
“I had suggested we use the Crimson editorial as a way of indicating the faculty’s agreement with what was expressed in The Crimson,” Skomarovsky said. “I believe everyone was clear that a lot of this was taken from the Crimson editorial.”
MEETING WITH SUMMERS
Summers met for half an hour on Wednesday afternoon with 11 members of PSLM, as well as two janitors from Harvard Medical School. PSLM had requested the meeting earlier in the week to address the report.
PSLM has released statements supporting the report’s recommendations, but called upon Summers to adjust wages annually to the Boston area cost of living and to ban outsourcing.
After Wednesday’s meeting, PSLM member Emma S. Mackinnon ’05 said Summers seemed “evasive” and “unresponsive” to the group’s concerns about the report.
According to Wrinn, Summers “listened carefully to what students had to say, and continues to consult with faculty, staff and students during this comment period.”
Wrinn said that Summers plans to attend an upcoming public meeting of the Undergraduate Council, and that the administration is “working out the particulars” of such an appearance. Summers, said Wrinn, will be “happy to take questions on a range of topics, including the [HCECP] report.”
—Staff writers Joseph P. Flood and Elisabeth S. Theodore contributed to the reporting of this article.
—Staff writer Ross A. Macdonald can be reached at email@example.com.
—Staff writer Joyce K. McIntyre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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