Teaching Campaign Prepares To Deliver Petition

The Harvard Teaching Campaign is making a final push for signatures on a petition that calls for a 12-student cap on section sizes before delivering it to administrators.

Organizers plan to deliver the petition to Massachusetts Hall—the home of several of Harvard’s central administrators, including University President Drew G. Faust—next week, according to the group’s website.

Massachusetts Hall
Massachusetts Hall, the home of Harvard's central administration, is pictured.

As of Wednesday, the petition had received 1,827 signatures from a combination of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and alumni, according to the Teaching Campaign’s website. Members of the movement, which seeks to reduce section sizes to 12 students each, have recently been contacting undergraduate students over House email lists in an effort to bolster the number of signatories.

“We call on the University to fulfill its promises of excellence by committing to a maximum of 12 students per section or lab group,” the petition reads. According to the Teaching Campaign website, the movement has been gathering signatures for over a year.


Aaron T. Bekemeyer, a graduate student involved in the Teaching Campaign, said he thinks turning in the petition will help increase the visibility of the movement.

“I think it is going to make a point about the amount of support we do have,” he said. “And because it won’t just be dropping off the petition, but it will be a number of us dropping it off, I think it will really highlight the importance of us.”

Graduate Student Council President Summer A. Shafer wrote in an email that she is not satisfied with the speed with which Harvard is addressing the movement’s concerns.

“This is a no-brainer for the administration. Of issue is the pace with which they'll make the changes faculty, students, alumni, and graduate students have asked for,” she wrote.

The graduate student movement has gained momentum in the last few months as several departments within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences have endorsed the campaign. More than 10 departments, including History and English, have announced their support for capping section sizes at 12 students.

The renewed effort to gather signatories and increase publicity for the upcoming event at Mass. Hall coincides with the beginning of a separate movement among graduate students to form a union. In early April, some students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences said they had started organizing to unionize.

—Staff writer Jill E. Steinman contributed to the reporting of this article.

—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @aduehren


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