Most Harvard students experience this area quite differently. As sociology graduate student Caitlin Daniel noted in an interview on the topic, “even people living in the same neighborhood can experience access very differently, depending on where their daily routines bring them … depending on whether they have reliable access to a vehicle, depending on what their budget is.” The river isn’t a “low-access zone” for anyone with a Harvard meal plan when dining halls are open, and it makes sense that we don’t buy enough food to support a local supermarket. It is not the fault of individual students that these food deserts exist on and near our campus, but the fact remains that around the city, living next to university students correlates with a lower level of access to affordable food.
The police department has argued that the violence perpetrated by their officers Friday night was necessary. This was also their tactic barely more than a year ago in Nov. 2016, when a CPD officer used pepper spray on a crowd of hundreds of students at the CambridgeSide Galleria to see the rapper Desiigner and Celtics player Jaylen Brown. A statement from the department reported that the event had turned chaotic and that the spray was “used by police to manage and disperse the crowd inside the mall after the crowds grew more aggressive.” However, a volunteer working at the event disputed this account, stating “[t]here was no mayhem before that. [An officer] sprayed, and it sprayed everybody in front of her. Everybody in front of her just scattered.” But the department’s justification implied its officers had something to fear from the crowd, which included many young Cambridge residents of color. Accounts of the event indicated that the opposite was true; the only reported injuries requiring medical care were the result of pepper spray. Even then, the department admitted no wrongdoing in the use of non-lethal force on members of the crowd. And people shook their heads in disappointment, and nothing meaningful seemed to change.
There is no reason to suppose that bottled water is any better than tap water—our hyper-local water supply is very safe and secure. The water that flows through the taps in your dorm rooms is stored and purified at Fresh Pond, less than two miles from Harvard Yard. This is because Cambridge manages its own municipal watershed, unlike most cities. The Watershed Management Division of the Cambridge Water Department protects the supply chain of Cambridge water before it goes through a five-step purification process to eliminate pathogens and particulate matter. The Water Department even offers free public tours of their treatment facility at Fresh Pond. Cambridge is also connected to the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, which provides backup water when our aquifers reach abnormally low levels, as occurred in 2016.
If each of these people lived alone, they would occupy nearly 78 percent of the total housing units in Cambridge. Even if each household had an average of two employees in those fields, it would still take more than a third of the city’s housing stock to house each person who works at a university or technology company in Cambridge.
When he led Tufts, Bacow spoke frequently about the importance of strong community relationships. In 2004, he negotiated a plan to formalize the payment of community benefits to Somerville and Medford, where Tufts is located, including it in a September update to the university. After a conversation with Somerville Alderman Jack Connolly, he inaugurated a tradition of “Community Days,” bringing Tufts affiliates and Somerville and Medford residents together. Now over 15 years old, the annual event combines student performances with presentations from community-based agencies and city departments.