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Activist Amee Chew '04 holds a sign yesterday afternoon at an Office of Career Services panel in the Science Center, which featured recruiters from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
Activist Amee Chew '04 holds a sign yesterday afternoon at an Office of Career Services panel in the Science Center, which featured recruiters from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
By Daniel J. Hemel, Crimson Staff Writer

A top College administrator who had said she would not allow students to protest the presence of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recruiters on campus yesterday reversed her position just hours before the rally was set to begin.

Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd sent an e-mail message to leaders of the Harvard Social Forum (HSF) yesterday morning informing them that they would be allowed to stage a “peaceful demonstration” outside the Science Center, where CIA and DHS representatives participated in a panel sponsored by the Office of Career Services (OCS) for students considering jobs in counterterrorism.

More than 100 students packed Auditorium E in the basement of the Science Center yesterday afternoon to hear the panel—including several activists who disrupted the event with skits designed to ridicule the CIA and DHS.

One recent alum, Matthew R. Skomarovsky ‘03, induced himself to vomit in order to express his disgust with CIA and DHS policies.

Physics doctoral candidate Suvrat Raju, a member of the Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice, rose to question the CIA recruiter about the agency’s involvement in a 1973 coup in Chile. After Raju revealed that he is not a U.S. citizen, a fellow activist dressed as an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agent seized Raju in a “mock deportation” and dragged him out of the auditorium.

Several audience members said they were unimpressed by the protesters’ disruptive tactics.

“I hate torture as much as the next protester,” Nathan A. Sharp ’08 said.

“But the best way to address the humanitarian disregard or the incompetence of the CIA is not by harassing their recruiters.,” Sharp said. “I don’t know why they’d want to prevent the CIA from reaching out to people who might improve upon their errors.”

The activists who disrupted the OCS event said afterwards they had no official ties to HSF.

“I believe that HSF did try to observe the general terms I requested,” Kidd wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson yesterday evening.


Kidd had told HSF leaders in an e-mail Monday morning that they would not be allowed to demonstrate because they did not have the required permit.

But leaders of the Forum said that they did not learn about the planned panel until this past weekend—and therefore did not have time to obtain permission.

Administrators recommend that students submit an online form requesting permits three to five days in advance of a protest. But HSF members never submitted a permit request to the College.

Kidd wrote in an e-mail to HSF leaders yesterday morning that she would allow the demonstration to proceed “because of the late notice of the OCS event.” She also told the HSF leaders that they would have received permission if they “had made any attempt to contact our office in advance.”

Kidd asked the HSF leaders to “refrain from heckling, either outside the Science Center or during the presentation.”

As students filed into the OCS event, HSF leaders staged a brief rally outside the Science Center that drew about 30 protesters. The activists distributed fliers assailing the CIA’s role in the torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and blasting the INS—now a branch of the DHS—for detaining Muslim and South Asian immigrants in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

But according to HSF coordinating committee member Michael A. Gould-Wartofsky ’07, when activists gathered outside the Science Center yesterday shortly before 3 p.m., they had not yet read Kidd’s e-mail—which was sent less than four hours earlier. The protesters had planned to go ahead with their demonstration even if they had not received administrators’ permission, said Gould-Wartofsky, who is also a Crimso,n editor.

Kidd left her University Hall office and spoke in person to HSF leaders to inform them that she would indeed allow the demonstration to continue.

“We regard this as a victory for free speech at Harvard,” Gould-Wartofsky said.

—Kelly Chan contributed to the reporting of this article.

—Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel can be reached at

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