By Linda K. Wertheimer and Peter Schworm
Globe Staff / December 9, 2007
Where have all the protesters gone? A group of 1967 Harvard alumni
lamented for the days of antiwar marches on Harvard Yard this week in
an e-mailed petition to Drew Faust, university president.
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The 13 alumni, led by a Belgium-based businessman, Gilbert Doctorow,
asked Faust to create a task force to figure out the causes behind
the "widespread apathy and political indifference of the student body
at Harvard College." The group wrote that it was shocked at the lack
of campus protests against the Iraqi war. Harvard is either not
recruiting enough politically active students or is doing too little
to promote "civic courage and political engagement," the group contended.
"The idea was to open a dialogue to pose some questions," Doctorow said.
Harvard officials said they see their school as no different than
most colleges across the country: Big antiwar marches on campuses are
rare, and today's students are active but use different methods than
Vietnam War-era protesters.
Harvard has an antiwar coalition, but students, who are not facing a
draft like those in the 1960s often focus on causes they can see in
front of them, said Judith Kidd, Harvard College's associate dean. A
group of Harvard students went on a hunger strike last spring to show
support for better working conditions and pay for campus security guards.
Harvard, meanwhile, does look for civic and political activities when
it screens applications, said Marlyn McGrath, the director of admissions.
"I don't think there's much of a lack of political engagement here,
nor do I think it's true that people throw tomatoes at people
anymore," McGrath said. "It's civil discourse."
Campus Insider runs on alternate Sundays with Ask the Teacher, an
advice column. To submit tips to Campus Insider, e-mail Linda
Wertheimer at firstname.lastname@example.org and Peter Schworm at email@example.com.