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Lady Gaga Launches the Born This Way Foundation at Harvard

By Elizabeth S. Auritt, Crimson Staff Writer

Lady Gaga descended on the Harvard campus Wednesday to launch her Born This Way Foundation before a packed audience in Sanders Theatre.

The pop star’s visit caused a stir on campus as fans attempted to score tickets to the event or glimpse the star throughout the day.

Lady Gaga, who shared the stage with Oprah Winfrey, came to Harvard to promote her new youth empowerment organization that combats bullying in schools through grassroots and social media efforts.

By fostering safe school environments, Lady Gaga hopes to make bullying a thing of the past, she said, even if the process of enacting change is slow-going.

“It could be 50 years,” she said. “If I’m dead, I don’t give a shit. I just want it to happen.”

Though she is famous for her stage antics and eccentric outfits, Lady Gaga was uncharacteristically serious during the launch. She said that her role in the anti-bullying movement is “completely separate from the woman I am on stage.”

She wore a black floor length gown, short lace gloves, and a hat with a veil.

Oprah—who bellowed “Harvard” as she ascended to the stage—engaged Lady Gaga in a conversation about the importance of using a multi-strategy approach to end bullying.

A top-down approach of training parents and teachers to tackle bullying is not sufficient, Lady Gaga said.

“This is about changing the school environment,” she said, adding that she hopes it will become more acceptable for students to speak up when they witness harassment.

Lady Gaga also answered questions about her foundation posed by a panel which included author and speaker Deepak Chopra and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen G. Sebelius.

The panel was moderated by Harvard Law School professor Charles J. Ogletree, who used a gavel to simulate a courtroom debate.Lady Gaga said that her hit song “Born This Way” inspired her to establish the eponymous foundation after her fans began a positive dialogue about the importance of overcoming insecurities following its release.

To ensure that the conversation continued, she felt it was necessary to create a permanent platform to discuss and research bullying issues, she said.

Lady Gaga was accompanied to the launch by her mother, Cynthia Germanotta. University President Drew G. Faust delivered a speech at the event welcoming Lady Gaga to Harvard.

On her part, Lady Gaga expressed enthusiasm at the opportunity to launch the event at Harvard.

“This might be one of the best days of my life,” she said.

Undergraduates shared Lady Gaga’s excitement about her appearance on campus.

A small group of students from College managed to snag tickets to the event through the Undergraduate Council’s raffle and a few less-publicized avenues.

Less fortunate fans waited outside of Memorial Hall during the launch and took photos in front of Lady Gaga’s “Born Brave” bus.

Lady Gaga said the bus will follow her throughout her tour, serving as a roving headquarters for people to become involved in the anti-bullying movement at each of her tour stops.

In honor of her visit, Greenhouse Cafe sold Lady Gaga cupcakes, complete with blonde hair and sunglasses.

—Staff writer Elizabeth S. Auritt can be reached at eauritt@college.harvard.edu.

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