With demonstrations occurring almost daily on and near Harvard’s campus since controversial grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, University President Drew G. Faust and Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana addressed the situation in separate statements this week.
In both cities, grand juries did not indict police officers whose actions led to the deaths of unarmed black men.
“Black lives matter,” Faust wrote in a statement to The Crimson on Tuesday night. “It has taken far too long to make that fundamental truth a living, essential part of the fabric of our society, our government, and our lives. Martin Luther King, Jr. made clear a half century ago why we can’t wait. What was urgent then is imperative now.”
Faust’s words followed a longer statement sent Monday by Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana. In the statement, Khurana announced that he will, with Assistant Dean of Student Life Emelyn dela Peña, host an open gathering at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Parlor Room of Phillips Brooks House in Harvard Yard.
Khurana also cited the College’s diversity, described what he said was Harvard’s unique ability to address issues of social injustice, and encouraged students to be supportive of one another.
“I hope each of you will insist on drawing attention to our failures as a society, and that this insistence will be the result of what you are learning, of mutual education and understanding, and of new reckonings of what it means to live in a community based on the dignity of, and respect for, everyone we encounter. This is what we must strive for,” Khurana wrote.
“Many in our College community are in pain and struggling right now, and no matter our understanding of the issue, we must come together to comfort and support each other,” he added.
While Khurana’s words were disseminated through a community-wide email, Faust’s statement was provided to The Crimson early Tuesday night by her spokesperson, Jeff Neal. The statement was published on Faust’s website later Tuesday night and circulated to Harvard’s 420,000 followers on Twitter.
—Staff writer Matthew Q. Clarida can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MattClarida.