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Harvard Yard To Remain Indefinitely Closed Amid Encampment

Reporters, photographers forced to cover event from outside Harvard’s gates

Harvard Yard will remain closed to non-Harvard affilaites until further notice amid the ongoing pro-Palestine encampment.
Harvard Yard will remain closed to non-Harvard affilaites until further notice amid the ongoing pro-Palestine encampment. By Frank S. Zhou
By Michelle N. Amponsah and Joyce E. Kim, Crimson Staff Writers

The University restricted Harvard Yard access to affiliates until further notice amid the ongoing pro-Palestine encampment in Harvard Yard, according to a Friday email obtained by The Crimson.

Zachary M. Gingo, associate dean for physical resources and planning, wrote in a separate email obtained by The Crimson that Johnston and Sever Gates — two of the five gates restricted to affiliates — will be locked starting at 10 p.m on Friday.

“We do this in response to the greater activity around the gates and the entrance to the Yard of several high-profile non-HUID holders featured in the media/social media,” Gingo wrote in his email.

According to the email, securitas guards will be redeployed to Widener, Thayer, and Lamont Gates.

“Securitas will also be more aggressive in scrutinizing IDs and confronting individuals who attempt to brush past without fully sharing their IDs,” Gringo wrote.

Since the encampment began, several journalists were relegated to covering the demonstration from outside Harvard’s gates. On Thursday afternoon, a handful of news reporters and photographers from publications including Al Jazeera, the National Press, and the Middle East Forum flocked outside the Johnston Gates after being denied entrance.

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote in an emailed statement on Friday that the University’s policy requires approval of media access to Harvard Yard in advance.

“While permits are granted based on the nature of the request, the access consideration with Harvard Yard specifically is based on the fact that the area is the location of first-year residence halls and classes, with the intention to ensure individual privacy,” Newton wrote.

Still, some members of the media have been successful in their attempts to enter the Yard.

Early Friday morning, GBH reporter Jeremy Siegel was escorted out of the Yard after entering early this morning around 5:30 a.m. A New York Times reporter also briefly reported on the encampment from the Yard.

Other news outlets searched for current or former Harvard affiliates to get reporting from within the Yard’s gates. Maliya V. Ellis ’24, a former Crimson Magazine chair, covered the encampment for the Boston Globe.

College spokesperson Alixandra A. Nozzolillo could not be reached for comment.

While various reporters have entered the Yard throughout the past three days, Harvard University Police Department spokesperson Steven G. Catalano said that access to the Yard remains restricted to University affiliates.

HUPD Chief Victor Clay said Friday afternoon that Securitas guards are stationed at the gates and have “24/7” responsibility for patrolling entrances to the Yard.

“We’ve increased our patrols around the campus, that we stay mobile, and we walk those areas, we drive those areas. So if Securitas needs support, we will support them,” he said in a Friday interview.

Rep. Ayanna S. Pressley (D-Mass.) also accessed the Yard on Friday without authorization from the University. Pressley spoke with protesters at the encampment after a Harvard professor helped escort her into the Yard.

A spokesperson for Pressley did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

The encampment, organized by Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine, an unrecognized coalition of pro-Palestine groups, began Wednesday as an emergency rally calling for Harvard to divest from its institutional and financial ties to Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and to refrain from taking disciplinary action against protesters.

The encampment at Harvard comes as similar demonstrations proliferated at universities across the country, with several resulting in student arrests — including at Emerson College in Boston, where Boston police arrested more than 100 students and cleared an encampment.

Several photographers were seen taking photos of the encampment through the bars of the gates, and reporters from publications interviewed the Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine’s media liaisons and Harvard affiliates outside.

The University first restricted access to the Yard on Sunday in apparent anticipation of protests. The signs posted to Yard gates warned of disciplinary measures against Harvard students and affiliates who bring in unauthorized structures such as tents or tables or block access to building entrances.

As of Friday afternoon, the signs remain posted to the gates. Administrators supplied guards stationed at the gates with lists of non-affiliates who were permitted entry for officially-sanctioned events in the Yard, according to a Securitas guard.

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote that the University is “closely monitoring the situation and are prioritizing the safety and security of the campus community” in a Wednesday statement.

—Staff writers Sally E. Edwards and Asher J. Montgomery contributed reporting.

—Staff writer Michelle N. Amponsah can be reached at michelle.amponsah@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @mnamponsah.

—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at joyce.kim@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X at @joycekim324.

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