An Open Letter to the Harvard Community

We, the undersigned members of the United Ministry at Harvard University wish to declare our support on the matter of a living wage as it has been raised and framed by the students currently sitting-in at Massachusetts Hall. We salute the courage of these students in waging this campaign with integrity, and honor them for their studied approach embracing non-violence in raising the consciousness of the entire community around this important moral issue. We commend the students involved for their moral courage and for conducting, with dignity and restraint, a now two-week long vigil of civil disobedience.

Over the course of the last two weeks, we have been increasingly struck by the commonalities which the issue of a living wage has evoked among many of us as chaplains. As a result of our engagement with these matters, many of us have discovered shared beliefs with each other and ways of perceiving the world which we might previously have thought unlikely. As a diverse consortium of chaplains this has been most encouraging to us, as an expression of religious pluralism.

It is the fashion of the day to describe this generation as morally and religiously disaffected, yet the spiritual grappling by many students, staff, faculty, and administrators during this time has proven otherwise. This dialogue has caused nearly everyone at Harvard to examine his or her thoughts and beliefs about fairness and justice. It has also caused many to consider the relative valuing of roles and persons within our community, and that which constitutes membership in the community.

As students have called upon the chaplains to stand with them, we have found ourselves sharing the resources of our rich and varied traditions in response to the discussions in which we have been engaged. Therefore we are persuaded that the needs of the poor must take priority over the wants of the wealthy. The right of participation of the marginalized must take precedence over the preservation of policies that tend to exclude them. We call upon all parties to hold these values dear as they engage in negotiations.

We recognize perceptions of broken faith within the context of these discussions and urge all parties to take measures which will at once respect differences and also help in the restoration of that faith.

We call for continuing efforts to resolve the present impasse, and encourage a good-faith resolution of remaining differences. We assert our belief that our whole community will be stronger as a result of these days. We encourage Harvard to continue to engage in spiritual and moral dialogue about issues which affect the climate of our life together, and we pledge ourselves to continue to support efforts to make this university a better place in which to work, study and grow.

Rev. C. Irv Cummings, President of the United Ministry at Harvard
Rev. Jory Agate, First Parish in Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist
Rev. Jeffrey Barneson, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
Rev. Stewart Barns, Episcopal Chaplain
Rev. Thomas Brennan, S.D.B., Catholic Chaplaincy
Rev. Scott Campbell, United Methodist Chaplain
The Rev. Thomas B. Chittick, Lutheran Campus Pastor.
Rev. Carolyn Dittes, B.C.M.H.E. (Protestant Chaplain)
Thomas M. Ferrick, Humanist Chaplain
Rabbi Sally Finestone, Reform Rabbinic Advisor, Harvard Hillel
Rev. David Grishaw-Jones, United Church of Christ Chaplain
Margit Hammerstrom, Christian Science Chaplain
Rabbi Shai Held, Conservative Rabbinic Advisor, Harvard Hillel
Rev. Glenn Hoburg
Gilbert L. Johnston, Friend in Residence, Friends Meeting at Cambridge
Rev. Raymond A. Kahng, Pastor, Harvard Korean Mission Church
Rebekah Kim, Asian Baptist Student Koinonia
Jacqueline Landry, Catholic Chaplain
Pat McLeod, Campus Crusade for Christ
Dr. Cyrus R. Mehta, Harvard Zoroastrian Association
Msgr. Dennis F. Sheehan, Catholic Chaplain
Rev. Lou Soiles, Graduate School Christian Fellowship
Dr. Bernard Steinberg, Harvard Hillel
Rev. Bob Tafel, Swedenborgian Chaplain/Pastor, Swedenborg Chapel
Lama Migmar Tseten, Buddhist Chaplain
Swami Tyagananda, Hindu Chaplain
Dr. John Woodall, Bahai Chaplaincy