Dear Harvard College Students,
Since 1930, when Dunster House and Lowell House were established, a defining feature of the Harvard College education has been our residential experience. Our Houses and freshman dormitories bring together students, faculty, graduate students, and staff from all over the world into small living communities. These communities are more than just physical spaces. They are where we seek academic and personal advice, where we offer support and comfort to one another in times of need, where we unwind and socialize, and where we share meals with friends in our dining halls. These learning and living spaces are the cornerstone of our Harvard College experience – one that continually teaches us the importance of community and broadens our circle of friendship and connection.
It has been within this context that I have been viewing the work stoppage by dining hall workers who are members of Local 26. While the strike has been motivated by myriad concerns, it has also illustrated what every member of our Harvard community knows to be true – that one of the most special attributes of our residential system is that when we live together, we bond together. I’ve noticed the respect, concern, and support that members of our residential communities have shown for one another over the past two weeks. And I’ve observed your concern and support for our cherished dining hall team, both the managers who have carried on the task of feeding students and the union members who are on the picket lines.
The dining hall is our communal table, and as a Faculty Dean in Cabot House, I’ve seen and felt the impact that the closure of our dining hall has had on our House community. At the same time, I’ve also seen resilience and adaptability as you have found ways to maintain your sense of connection in spite of these challenges. Houses are hosting Brain Breaks, as well as more robust Open Houses with creative themes that are bringing scores of students together. Some Houses are opening their events to the broader College community. Small and large events have been organized in the Yard. Faculty Deans, resident deans, HoCos, student organization leaders, members of our residential staff, and many staff across the College and University are working to bring our community together every day that this strike continues.
The issues surrounding the Local 26 strike and contract negotiation are complex, but it is my hope that until a settlement is reached, we will continue to find ways to come together in support of one another. While we recognize that your dining halls cannot be replaced, the College remains committed to supporting your needs.