Harvard closes police station due to students' feeling 'watched and policed': 'not a pleasant feeling'

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Harvard University closed a police station located in a residential hall because students’ felt that the presence itself was a “violent, visual intimidation tactic.”

The Harvard University Police Department’s substation at the Mather House was closed in February because students felt it created an intimidating environment, according to the Harvard Crimson.

A resident in the Mather House, Faith Woods, told the news outlet that the police are not present to “keep me actively safe.”

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

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A Harvard University police officer blocks off access to the Harvard Yard following a bomb threat that was made on campus on November 16, 2015 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

A Harvard University police officer blocks off access to the Harvard Yard following a bomb threat that was made on campus on November 16, 2015 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 
(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Woods added that the police department’s substation “implies that we’re being watched and policed, which is not a pleasant feeling.”

In a statement provided to the newspaper, a Harvard University Police Department spokesperson said that the closure was a result of concerns raised by students as well as how much police used the substation.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

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Gate at Harvard Yard in Harvard University. Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.

Gate at Harvard Yard in Harvard University. Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.
(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Campus Reform reported that the nearest police substation is now 0.6 miles away from the residential hall.

Another resident of the Mather House, Eleanor Taylor, said that the police department’s substation was used as a “visual intimidation tactic” against students.

“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 said.

Taylor also reached out to the house’s faculty deans regarding concerns that armed Harvard University Police Department officers ate meals alongside students on various occasions in the dining hall over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year, adding that their presence made residents feel uncomfortable.

Harvard University closed a police station located in a residential hall because students' felt that their presence itself was a "violent, visual intimidation tactic."

Harvard University closed a police station located in a residential hall because students’ felt that their presence itself was a “violent, visual intimidation tactic.”
(AP)

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However, Mather House resident Kai DeJesus said that while the substation’s closure is a “really good first step,” the university’s police department ultimately needs to be abolished.

“For real justice to exist on this campus, HUPD must be abolished,” DeJesus said.

Harvard University did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

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