In a front page article, the Harvard Crimson compares how Boston College and Harvard are pursuing their plans for campus expansion. Interviews with John Bruno and Paul Berkeley, members of the BRA's task forces for both schools, form the backbone of the article, quoting them as follows:
- “There’s no reason that Harvard had to work with the community over the years because they’re Harvard, and that’s the way it works.”
- “When Harvard comes to the table, they say, ‘This is our plan, straight and narrow. No one else is going to design our campus—we’re the smartest people in the world.’”
- “Harvard always says, ‘Here’s the message loud and clear, got it? The community’s concerns have not been put into the plan, and it’s been frustrating.”
- “Allston ends up with these developments that aren’t Harvard, but, in a sense, Harvard is engineering them. We’re ending up with these large projects that used to be on the edges of town, but they are now being pushed deeper into the neighborhood, along with all the negative impacts.”
The BRA's Gerald Autler and Harvard’s Kevin McCluskey present opposing views about Harvard's ability to make decisions favorable to the Allston/Brighton community. McCluskey suggests that it is reasonable to expect harmony and alignment between town & gown because "the things that are most important to the neighborhood and the things most important to Harvard have a lot of overlap.”
Autler talks about how hard it is to be Harvard, but doesn't every big school have an array of deans, faculty, administrators, and others with strong opinions about the future of the school?
The example that leads the story is about BC making sure the community knew it was bidding on what is now the Waterworks development at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. To the contrary, Harvard is establishing a pattern of letting Allston and Brighton learn about relevant news from the papers instead of directly from Harvard. This negligence or disdain has nothing to do with diverse internal constituencies at Harvard.
“Institutionally, Harvard has a lot of internal politics, and they must strike a balance between many points of view in which the neighborhood is only one,” he said. “Sometimes, those very different constituencies want very different things.”
Of course different people at Harvard want different things. It would be a refreshing break from past practices for Harvard to open up about this reality and explain these competing internal priorities and how they compete with the priorities of the BRA and community.