Today’s Harvard Crimson features “A Liberal Critique” of “Occupy Harvard” by Harvard sophomore Katie R. Zavadski. The piece devastates what little credibility “Occupy Harvard” might have left — in part because the critique is from a writer whose liberal credentials are impeccable.  Ms. Zavadski is a high-ranking and long-serving member of the Harvard College Democrats and serves as the Race and Diversity Beat Reporter for the Crimson (see here).  Her Crimson articles seem to flow out of a solidly liberal world view (see here). Perhaps most important, her early Crimson coverage about “Occupy Harvard,” and especially about the “triumphant” mood of its members, was generally positive (see here).  It is the conduct of the members of “Occupy Harvard” since those early days that has led her, one senses reluctantly, to castigate the movement.

Here are some excerpts from Ms. Zavadski’s extremely detailed and well-reasoned essay, which is worth reading in its entirety for anyone interested in “Occupy Harvard”:

As Occupy Harvard prepares to weather the winter in Harvard Yard, the rest of us . . . secretly hope that the cold will drive them out. Over the past several months, the tent city has expanded although the numbers of occupiers seem to have dwindled, their tactics have grown more disruptive, and I — once genuinely curious about the potential effects of the Occupy Harvard movement — have grown more and more eager for its exit.

To be sure, I agree with many of their demands — a living wage for employees, socially responsible and transparent investments, and increased diversity among the faculty to name a few — and I know and like many of the undergraduate Occupiers personally. But as a liberal, every time I am told that someone is “surprised” that I am not occupying the yard myself I feel an easily explicable surge of anger.

*  *  *

. . . Occupy Harvard focuses on a very narrow base of support to grow its movement. With actions such as picketing and attempting to interrupt a Goldman Sachs recruiting session . . . Occupy alienated a large portion of the student body that might have been persuaded to be sympathetic to their causes.

*  *  *

Certainly, Goldman is a worthy target of the Occupy movement more broadly, but picketing an information session run largely by young professionals just a year or two out of Harvard achieves little other than alienating potential allies. For Occupy Harvard, there is a “with us or against us” mentality, and there is no middle ground to work with students who they may agree with on some issues and have disagreements with on others.

The downside of this is that the sheer self-righteousness of many of the occupiers renders an alternate version of events inconceivable. In her recent op-ed, Sandra Korn and fellow occupiers dismissed the University’s concerns for student safety — most shockingly the University’s statements about concerns over sexual assault — as illegitimate. . . .  Apparently to the Occupiers, the fact that sexual assaults occur — an unfortunate but inevitable reality — invalidates the University’s attempt to prevent more such incidents from occurring, especially in a space populated exclusively by our most vulnerable population, first-year students.

*  *  *

It is rather clear that Occupy’s goals are about inciting antagonism towards the University . . . .

*  *  *

.  .  . Occupy Harvard has little to do with the Occupy movement more broadly. Rather, the students occupying Harvard Yard are doing more to set back the causes they claim to champion in the long run than they are to advance them . . . .  A survey of over 1000 undergraduates performed by Stats 104 students found that Occupy Harvard was viewed favorably by only 2.84 out of 10 students, surely much lower than student support for the individual issues they’re pushing for and much lower than Harvard’s support for the Occupy movement nationally. The Occupy Harvard message isn’t working, and the movement is a coalition of a 0.1 percent. They would do well to tone down the rhetoric, tear down the tents, and try to bring more students in for a truly strong student movement.

–“Major Tom”

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