Students Shake Up Harvard

Students are sleeping on the grass and women are holding sex-toy parties in their dormitories.

All this unseemly brouhaha has been happening at the usually staid Harvard University, an institution that was founded 367 years ago to provide a healthy education for Puritan ministers.

The cries of "Living wage!" could be heard this week coming from nearly 50 students who have occupied a building just outside the university president’s office and who have set up tents in Harvard Yard. At 16 days and counting, it's the longest sit-in in campus history.

"We're willing to stay here until we get what we need for the workers at Harvard," protester Jane Martin said.

The students want the university, the nation's richest school, to ensure that all its employees are paid at least $10.25 per hour. The protests are in support of the campus custodians and dining-room workers who are in the middle of union negotiations. Armed with a slick Web site (, signs and spirited protest songs, the students have vowed not to leave the building until the school gives in to their demands.

"The students are very smart, passionate and committed to the cause they believe in," university spokesman Joe Wrinn said. "But occupying a building won't make the university do something it has decided not to do."

He said not only are the university's lowest-paid workers paid at or above the market rate, they've also recently been offered classes at the school to improve their skills. As for a wage hike on top of that, any changes will have to be made though the regular, admittedly slow, university channels.

Meanwhile, the protesting students will get creature comforts from the school that their predecessors in the 1960s and 1970s didn't - meals, toilet paper, soap, deodorant, religious services and the admiration of at least some of the staff and faculty.

There's also a  revolution of another sort going on inside the university dorm rooms. On April 24, a sex-toy workshop came to the Radcliffe Union of Students, an organization from Harvard's one-time sister school.

About 30 female students were treated to a demonstration of everything from condoms to strap-on vibrators in what was meant to serve as a sex-education course. The group said it helped women feel empowered and less dependant on men for sexual pleasure while not detracting from the intimate pleasures a couple can enjoy. The meeting was led by an employee of a Brookline, Mass., sex shop called Grand Opening.

"It's somewhat classroom oriented," Megara Bell said. "I stand in front of them. Everyone sits around and we talk about the toys. We bring out different fun stuff -- massage oils and lubes."

The meeting was held at a dormitory common room and open only to invited people.

"Women felt happy because they got to go and look at these things without feeling weird," Harvard spokeswomen Sally Baker said. "The emphasis was on safe sex."

The only objections, a group member said, came from the school's conservative paper. Wrinn said the administration had no problem with it.

"It was a private function by students," he said. "Students have private lives like everyone else."

Alisyn Camerota, an unrepentant '80s band groupie, is co-host of "America's News HQ," airing at (weekdays 1-2PM/ET on the Fox News Channel). She joined the network in 1998 as a Boston-based correspondent. Previously, Camerota served as co-host of "FOX & Friends Weekend."