BY ALEXA SHABECOFF
They massed outside Dean Robert Clark’s office. They carried their signs and placards. And they shouted their battle-cry:
“Justice for Proctors!”
With that, several dozen HLS exam monitors kicked off the University’s latest living wage campaign yesterday, as they demanded the Law School administration respond to what they described as calls for true justice.
“We demand higher pay and more to do during exams,” said group spokeswoman Ethel Batchelder. “We will not be hustled and used by Harvard Law School, forced to sit in silent classrooms for four hours at a time with nothing to do!”
Anger had simmered since last week because Dean Clark had rejected the demand for pay, saying the monitors were “just a bunch of gullible old people anyway.”
“I had never been so mad in all my 97-and-one-half years,” said Batchelder.
Clark fumed: “If I wanted to spend more money, I could just hire the second OPIA worker. I mean, they don’t make any money either. And I’m way too cheap for that.”
Justice for Proctors members say their demands are non-negotiable. They have threatened to picket during final exams, or conduct a full-fledged strike. They are also considering continuing work during exam sessions, but then starting to scream halfway through administering all exams.
“All options are open,” said Batchelder. “We have even thought about more drastic measures — like not reading each of the instruction cards exactly word for word.
“But we would hate to do anything quite that extreme,” she added.
At the protest, Justice for Proctors emphasized the difficult and sometimes dangerous nature of their job.
“Let me tell you. There’s a reason why the faculty don’t proctor the exams themselves. Have you ever tried to take a Civ Pro exam from a 1L who hasn’t finished? They’ll take your hand off if you aren’t careful,” Batchelder said.
Clark, however, rejected the demand that the proctors were entitled to hazardous duty pay. “That’s an outrageous claim,” Clark said, “We’re not stupid. We only choose kindly looking old people to proctor exams, since it minimizes the chance that students will commit acts of violence against them. Back when we still had professors proctoring exams, every year some student would attack Westfall, and he would invariably end up in the hospital. We haven’t had a similar incident with the new kindly old proctors. They are totally safe.”
At their protest Batchelder said that proctors served a vital role in assuaging students fears as they go into exams.
“We’re like the Mark Weber of exams,” Batchelder said. “We’re there to comfort the students. Every year I tell the 1Ls about my daughter who failed her 1L year. I tell the students not to worry, because she ended up graduating from Concord University in the end. I also tell them that there is no sense in worrying, because it is too late at that point to do anything about it. They’ll just have to face the music. I think that really helps them a lot.”