- WASHINGTON EXAMINER - Barnini Chakraborty - NOV 1, 2021 -
Harvard University may be the gold standard of Ivy League institutions , but its own students have accused it of using unethical and predatory practices to bolster its massive $53.2 billion endowment while threatening to slash jobs and deny workers a living wage.
Harvard Management Company , which oversees the endowment, returned 33.6% on its investments for the fiscal year ending in June 2021. That's an $11.3 billion increase from the previous year, which catapulted the endowment, already the largest in the world, to its largest sum in history.
Harvard's subsequent victory lap over the money made during a pandemic and on the backs of consistently underpaid employees isn't sitting well with students like Sophie Goldman.
"This ostentatious praise for the endowment's growth (which was already larger than half the world's economies) is not only in poor taste, but also morally wrong," she wrote in the Harvard Crimson. "Despite this monumental financial gain of over $11 billion in the past year, the University continues to lower its budget allocated for essential workers, citing 'continued financial pressure' due to the pandemic."
Before the fall 2021 semester began, Harvard proposed new dining schedules that threatened to cut the number of full-time dining employees by 20% and force an 8% reduction in total hours available.
Fearing the worst, UNITE HERE Local 26, the union representing dining employees, solicited support from students through flyers plastered all over campus.
The flyers accuse Harvard of "using austerity politics to marginalize essential workers" after collecting a hefty sum in tuition during the pandemic and growing its endowment.
"At the same time, Harvard is pushing food service workers to the sidelines by slashing full-time jobs and cutting hours - even though more students are on campus than ever," the flyer claimed.
While the school tried to save face, it was thrust back into the spotlight last week when members of the Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Automobile Workers went on strike after negotiations stalled with the school over a modest pay increase (less than half the rate of inflation), amendments to the Title IX process, and the reorganization of a union shop clause that would require undergrads to pay dues as a condition of employment.
The strike, which started on Wednesday and ended Friday, coincided with the annual freshman parents' weekend activities.
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