“What she said to me about my English, my accent, what she said about Marvin as a ‘dirty black man,’ what she called him—I’ve never heard somebody talk like this. Not here at Harvard University, not anywhere. ‘An embarrassing Latina.’ It’s an insult, it’s a racist remark. It’s terrible. It bothered me so much. I couldn’t even sleep, when I thought about it. Until now, it bothers me, what she said to me.”
Nassim Kerkache, Harvard University Mail Services
“These corporate leaders mostly inherited their wealth and built their empires using racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-immigration laws, and do this while destroying our environment. I want to stand up and say no to this. And I want to start at our university, my workplace, Harvard University.”
Judy Rouse, Harvard Law School Dining Services
Our university has raised billions of dollars on the premise that there is “One Harvard.” Yet there are really two Harvards — one for the elites that run our university, and one for the workers who labor here every day.
In the past few months, students of color at Harvard have raised concerns about the way in which racism–and its intersections with sexism, xenophobia, ableism, and heterosexism–manifests itself at Harvard.
We, a coalition of students and workers at Harvard, are deeply disturbed by recent reports of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, country of origin, and ability status at Harvard workplaces. Such discrimination not only harms the workers who are directly affected, but also creates an unsafe environment for all workers, students, and members of the wider Harvard community.
In its official nondiscrimination policy, Harvard states that “Any form of discrimination based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status, or disability unrelated to course requirements is contrary to the principles and policies of Harvard University.” We know that Harvard makes efforts to uphold these principles: it promotes itself as an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, and its Chief Diversity Officer nominally oversees diversity in hiring. Yet these policies seem to focus disproportionately on the faculty and administration, neglecting the needs of workers.
The Office of Diversity and institutional policies in place to address complaints of discrimination in the workplace are often too fractured and bureaucratic to be effective. Instead of simply striving to meet federal guidelines regarding discrimination, Harvard should be a model workplace, going above and beyond what is legally necessary to ensure that it upholds its own principles of diversity and non-discrimination.
The Two Harvards Campaign highlights the stories of four Harvard Campus Services workers who have not been well-served by Harvard’s institutional pathways. We demand justice for Johany Pilar, Nassim Kerkache, Marvin Byrd, and Judy Rouse.