CAMBRIDGE, MA — A group of college students, faculty and staff will rally on behalf of more than 2,000 people who have signed a petition on Change.org urging Harvard University to award posthumous degrees to seven students who were forced off campus and expelled from the school because they were gay or perceived to be gay in 1920.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012, 3pm ET
Where: Outside Sanders Theater, Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
What: Students, faculty and staff at Harvard University will hold a rally outside of Sanders Theater, where Lady Gaga and Oprah Winfrey will be holding a public event to launch the Born This Way Foundation, to raise awareness about the "Secret Court," a body commissioned by Harvard in 1920 to persecute and expel students who were gay or perceived to be gay. Petition signers will also deliver signatures to Harvard President Drew Faust, urging the University to award posthumous degrees to all students who were forced out of campus by the "Secret Court" and to formally abolish the body.
Seven former students were victims of what is known as the "Secret Court," a body authorized by Harvard administrators to investigate students alleged to be gay, and were expelled from campus. Some of these students were just weeks away from receiving degrees. While current Harvard administrators have apologized for the Secret Court's actions, the student victims have never been honored by the University with posthumous degrees, and the Secret Court has never officially been abolished by Harvard.
Kaia Stern, a visiting faculty member at Harvard and a supporter of Their Day in the Yard, a movement on campus to raise awareness about the Secret Court's actions, started the petition on Change.org to seek justice for the Court's victims.
"We're challenging the Harvard community to live up to its mission to 'liberate students to explore, to create, to challenge, and to lead… to advance knowledge, to promote understanding, and to serve society,'" said Stern. "It's time to ensure these seven students receive justice, and are honored officially by the University with posthumous degrees."
Live signature totals from Kaia Stern's campaign (and comments from signers):