Photo by Abi Skipp
The Baffler,  September 9, 2014

Daily Bafflements

Photo by Abi Skipp
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• News from our fair city: Harvard has just received the largest gift in its history, $350 million to the School of Public Health. “I brought this up to Bill [Lee, of the Harvard Corporation] to see if it was doable, to see if it was interesting,” the donor, Gerald Chan, told the Harvard Crimson. “And they thought it was interesting.”

• What’s also interesting is that Chan happens to be quietly and gradually buying up all of the real estate in Cambridge; he’s recently bought property in Harvard Square totaling more than $100 million, over a period of just months.

• Also also interesting: while all that land is being snatched up and all those schools are being renamed, the group Advocates for a Common Toilet (ACT) continues to fight for the development of public restrooms in Harvard Square, an area through which 8 million tourists pass every year, and over 350 homeless people sleep. (Yes, there’s that one in the belly of the Harvard T station, but it’s terrifying.) “Many people have told us the first thing Harvard Square businesses and churches do every morning is clean feces off their doorstep,” Zachary L. Kerzee of ACT told the Crimson last year. When The Baffler checked in with ACT on Monday, we heard that there has since been one more (portable) toilet installed on the north side of the Cambridge Common, and that there’s another one slated for construction this Fall that will go in the middle of Massachusetts Avenue.

• When asked about the $350 million gift to Harvard and the accompanying name change of the Harvard School of Public Health to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, ACT’s leader, Richard Parker (John K. Galbraith’s biographer, who also teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School) had this to say: “Public Health now becomes the second Harvard School with an individual’s name interpolated into it. Can’t wait for Med and Law to go up for auction to the global plutocracy.”

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