The Undergraduate Council (UC) and Harvard College Libraries (HCL) offered free food at midnight in honor of Lamont’s new 24-hour service, and more than 1,500 students came to the library Monday with hopes of finding Felipe’s and Finale amid the stacks, according to estimates from security guards.
The attraction proved too strong, though, and the library ended up shutting its doors before midnight to keep the hoards at bay.
“I have never seen so many people in, outside, or around Lamont,” said Lamont librarian Heather E. Cole, laughing as she addressed the crowd outside.
The protest spirit was infectious, with hungry students outside Lamont shouting their own slogans alongside the Quad Library hours agitators.
“Bring the food to the people, or we’ll bring the people to the food!” one student proclaimed.
The crowd stretched from the library doors to the statue in the grass outside Loeb House.
“There was one police officer trying to get people out of the door, and there was another police officer at the same door trying to stop people,” said Emily M. Mott ’07. “I couldn’t move. I’ve never been in crowds that intense.”
Inside the library, the situation was equally chaotic. As early as 11:30 p.m., students had begun to gather inside Lamont in anticipation of food. Lines degenerated into a mob, filling the lobby.
“It encompassed more than a hundred square feet—it felt like 500 people. It was pressing in on all sides,” said Daniel E. Okobi ’09. “In the end, I didn’t get food, so I felt let down, and I didn’t even want to study anymore.”
Davone J. Tines ’09 compared the lobby to the Titanic. “There was only one door, and we were all trying to get out,” he said. “It was pandemonium.”
Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) officers arrived to monitor the gathering and escorted students outside the building to ease the crowd, said HUPD Sgt. Denis Downing.
Meanwhile, 40 members of Quad United Against Library Discrimination (QUAD; the “Library” is reportedly silent) staged a protest for longer Quad Library hours nearby.
“Open on Saturday, raise our GPA!” the group shouted, brandishing signs.
According to QUAD activists present, the Quad gets only 7 percent of College library hours and 0.0025 percent of College library books—despite boasting 17 percent of the College’s population and 95 percent of something that they described as “College awesomeness.”
Group members said they hoped to draw the college community’s attention toward the Quad library hours to encourage further student activism and initiate discussions with the administration.
The Quad Library, located in the Hilles Building, is currently open from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday through Wednesday, but only until 10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. It does not open on Saturday. The library’s hours were cut back last year as a result of a perceived lack of student use.
QUAD’s leaders said they hoped to show, on Monday, that the opposite was true. They said they also wanted to show support for the UC’s success last year in extending Lamont’s hours.
“This is not an anti-Lamont protest, but a pro-Hilles protest,” said Eric I. Kouskalis ’07, spokesman for QUAD. “We just thought [Lamont] would be a good place to highlight our concerns [and] to reach the student body and library administration.”
The protest turned out students from every Quad House and some River Houses as well. “Eliot supports the Quad,” one sign declared.
Gordon T. Kraft-Todd ’07, a Quad resident who was last year crowned “Mr. Harvard,” also appeared in his signature diaper and crown. He shouted slogans with the rest of the QUAD members and waved his trophy in the chilly autumn air.
Some bystanders said they were swayed by the protestors’ arguments.
“I don’t think [the situation] is fair,” said Vijay Govind-Thomas ’09. “I hope that one day they achieve the hour quality that they deserve.”
But others were unconvinced saying they thought Quad residents should be responsible for negotiating their own library logistics.
“That’s why they have shuttles,” said William E. Johnston ’08, an Adams resident.
Later on in the evening, some UC members expressed support for QUAD’s efforts. UC Representative John S. Haddock ’06, who was instrumental in the campaign to extend Lamont’s hours, later said he plans to focus his attention on the Quad Library this year.
“A tremendous amount of work went into getting Lamont open 24 hours, and we plan to invest as much energy in the Quad Library,” UC President Matthew J. Glazer ’06 wrote to CurrierWire, the house’s open-list, before the protests.
QUAD members later said they considered the protest a success and said they were optimistic about their goals.
“We’re confident that both the administration and UC have students’ interests at heart,” Kouskalis wrote in an e-mail, “and if students make it clear that they need more library hours in the Quad, they’ll find a way to make it happen.”
—Elizabeth W. Green and Laura C. McKiernan contributed to the reporting of this story.