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PSLM Occupation Gets Hollywood Treatment

By Ross A. Macdonald, Crimson Staff Writer

After a three-week run in Mass. Hall last spring, the Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM) sit-in returned for a repeat performance Saturday night.

Occupation, a student-made documentary chronicling the Mass. Hall sit-in, premiered to an overflow crowd at the Harvard Film Archive.

Between the 7 and 9 p.m. showings of the documentary, movie-goers marched to Mass. Hall to erect a make-shift “town hall” with wooden boards for PSLM supporters to sign.

University President Lawrence H. Summers announced his intention Thursday to accept the recommendations of the committee formed as a compromise to end the sit-in.

Summers’ decision will reopen contract negotiations to boost wages for the school’s 1,000 lowest-paid workers to at least $10.83 to $11.30 per hour. PSLM members criticized the decision for failing to implement a mandatory base wage for workers which adjusts annually to inflation and cost of living increases.

The documentary combined student-shot footage of the sit-in with local television coverage, archival material and interviews with current Harvard workers.

The documentary revealed some of PSLM’s tactical decisions, including a discussion about whether the students occupying the building should pressure the Mass. Hall administrative assistants who were continuing to come to work.

The footage also showed PSLM members’ first formal interaction with University President Neil L. Rudenstine during the sit-in.

In the scene, Rudenstine said he would rather resign than give in to the students’ demands.

Occupation also featured footage of administrators and members of the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

A shot of Herbert S. “Pug” Winokur ’64-’65, who has come under fire from PSLM for his involvement as finance chair of Enron’s Board of Directors, elicited laughter from the audience.

Directed by Maple Razsa, a doctoral candidate in social anthropology, and Roberto “Pacho” Velez ’03, a Visual and Environmental Studies concentrator, the documentary is part of a series of films co-sponsored by the Harvard Trade Union Program.

According to a statement released by its producers, Occupation will be distributed nationally by the AFL-CIO and its affiliate, Service Employees International Union, which represents Harvard’s unionized custodians.

Screenings are planned for Stanford, Princeton and American Universities, and the film is slated to “kick off” a new living wage campaign in Memphis, Tenn.

—Staff writer Ross A. Macdonald can be reached at

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