Harvard students criticize search process, call for higher salaries

By Heidi B. Perlman, Associated Press, 03/12/01

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) - A group of Harvard students greeted their new president Monday with a protest calling for a more public selection process for the office and higher pay for some university employees.

One day after U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers was named the school's 27th president, about 200 students demonstrated, banging drums and chanting, 'Larry Summers can talk the talk, but can he walk the walk?'

``These things have to change,'' said Aaron Bartley, a law student and member of the Progressive Student Labor Movement, which staged the demonstration. ``We won't go away until these issues are addressed.''

The group gathered outside the president's office and then moved to a hall where Summers was meeting with members of the university's governing body. Neither Summers nor outgoing President Neil Rudenstine came outside to meet with the students.

After a nine-month search, Summers was selected by the seven-member Harvard Corp., the university's highest governing body, and confirmed Sunday by the university's Board of Overseers, a 30-member group of alumni.

Students criticized the corporation for holding their meetings secretly. The university's charter, written in 1650, does not require input from faculty, students or employees.

Still, Harvard spokesman Joe Wrinn said, the university last year sent out a letter seeking comment from 300,000 students, alumni, faculty and employees.

``The search process is completely dictated by the charter,'' Wrinn said. ``Students are not on the search committee, but their voices were heard.''

Wrinn said the university also dealt with the wage issue last year, when Harvard officials decided to offer free GED and English as a Second Language courses to the university's lowest-paid workers to help them get better-paying jobs.

Wrinn said about 400 campus employees make less than $10 an hour, most of them as custodians and cafeteria workers.