Harvard Police to Close Substation After Students Complain Officers are a ‘Violent, Visual Intimidation Tactic’


The Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) is closing a police substation following student and faculty complaints claiming that the mere presence of police officers is a “violent, visual intimidation tactic,” and “implies that we’re being watched.”

The Harvard police department announced its plan to close the Mather House substation on campus last week, which has been in operation since 2005, according to a report by the Harvard Crimson.



“The decision to close the Mather House substation was made last week in response to concerns raised by Mather House staff and students as well as the amount of use of the substation by officers and community members,” HUPD spokesman Steven Catalano said in a statement.

Students also complained to the Harvard Crimson, telling the newspaper that the presence of the police station “implies that we’re being watched and policed.” Another student called the police station “a violent, visual intimidation tactic.”

“I am well aware that the police are not there to keep me actively safe,” student and Mather resident Faith Woods told the newspaper. “Having a police car sitting outside of Mather every night — which it does — doesn’t bring me any sense of safety.”

Woods claimed that the presence of the police station “implies that we’re being watched and policed, which is not a pleasant feeling.”

Another student and Mather resident, Eleanor Taylor, told the newspaper that “the real effect that the presence of the HUPD substation has on the Mather community is simply a violent, visual intimidation tactic that students are forced to see every time they enter the house.”

Taylor also said that she complained to the faculty deans about police officers eating in the dining hall alongside students, which she said made residents feel uncomfortable.

Mather House faculty deans, Amala Mahadevan and L. “Maha” Mahadevan responded to students by bringing the complaints to HUPD Chief Victor A. Clay last fall. Since the campus reopened last fall, “armed officers” have not been allowed to eat in upperclassman dining halls, reports the Harvard Crimson.

While the Mather facility is now set to close, HUPD still maintains three other substations on campus.

Student and Mather resident Kai DeJesus, however, told the newspaper that while HUPD’s decision to close the substation is a “really good first step,” the university police department “must be abolished” in order “for real justice to exist on this campus.”

“It’s really important that we keep these violent institutions outside of residences,” DeJesus said. “Ultimately, HUPD remains the police force that disproportionately targets Black and Brown people here on campus and in Cambridge.”

“For real justice to exist on this campus, HUPD must be abolished,” the student added.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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Written by Newsman

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