The Campaign for Independence
To commemorate the first 50 years of The Harvard Independent and prepare for the next 50, we’re embarking on the biggest, most ambitious, and most important fundraising campaign in the Indy’s history. By the time of Harvard’s Commencement in June, 2020—the end of the newspaper’s 50th full year of operation—we aim to add $1 million to the Independent’s existing endowment, ensuring that the organization will have a permanent home and the resources to train many new generations of student journalists.
Whether you spent your Indy years hanging out upstairs at the Union, the Canaday Hall basement, or the Student Organization Center, Hilles (SOCH), you know that the newspaper has always been a community and a culture as much as a publishing operation. Many of us learned the tricks of the journalism, photography, design, or business trades from our student peers at the Indy—and formed the most vivid and lasting friendships of our lives. Since members of the Classes of 1970 and 1971 founded the newspaper in 1969, 48 cohorts of Indy staffers have used their work at the paper to discover who they are, and have gone on to make their marks in the broader world. To make sure that this “Indy experience” is available to future generations of students, the paper’s alumni must step up and contribute once again.
The INdy will soon be homeless
Throughout its history, the Independent has depended upon Harvard for office space. That arrangement is now coming to an end as the university implements significant changes to the way it allocates space on campus.
In the spring of 2018, the office of the Dean of Students evicted the Independent from the second-floor SOCH office that had been the paper’s home for 10 years (its fourth since 1969). Officials explained that the eviction was part of a larger plan to eliminate all private office space for student organizations on university property, on the premise that today’s students prefer to collaborate in open commmunity spaces. The Indy’s Graduate Board lobbied to reverse that decision, and subsequently the Dean’s Office reassigned the newspaper to two tiny offices on separate floors of the SOCH, but warned that these spaces were temporary, and will be taken away after the 2018-19 school year.
The SOCH office was never ideal—being so far from the Yard made recruiting new compers vastly more difficult. But without a place to gather and continue its culture, the Indy now faces an enormous challenge which could affect the organization’s long-term viability.
a home of its own
It’s time for the Independent to grow up, move out, and take control of its own destiny. Unfortunately, the days when local newspapers could use advertising dollars to pay the rent are a distant memory. The main goal of the Campaign for Independence is to assemble an endowment large enough to allow the Harvard Independent, Inc.—the 501(c)(3) controlled by the Indy’s Graduate Board—to rent off-campus office space for the newspaper, at a location close to Harvard Yard and the River Houses.
Thanks to the past generosity of alumni, the Independent’s current endowment—which funds all of the newpaper’s operations—stands at roughly $215,000. If we can add another $1 million to that amount, the interest on the endowment would cover a commercial lease in or around Harvard Square, finally liberating the Indy from Harvard and putting the newspaper on a more equal footing with the Crimson (which acquired its Plympton Street building in 1915).
We’ve already made an incredibly promising start: pledges this fall from members of the Campaign for Independence Committee have reached nearly $100,000. Now it’s your turn to help!
join the campaign
Once again, the future of the Independent is in the hands of its alumni.
Our 35th Anniversary fund drive in 2004 was a huge success, raising nearly $200,000. That crucial infusion arrived at just the right moment to allow the Indy to weather the collapse of the local advertising market.
But if the Indy’s revenues are far smaller today than in past decades, so, fortunately, are its costs. Technological advances mean that students can produce the paper on their own laptops. Printing is the last major expense.
However, the existing endowment won’t cover the cost of new office space. We know that the Indy’s thousands of alumni have achieved prominence and success in journalism and a wide range of other professions, including law, medicine, investment banking, and consulting. And we know that many worthy causes seek your support. But here’s one—finding a new, permanent home for the Independent—where your contribution will make a real and significant difference, by helping to secure a place for alternative campus journalism at Harvard for the next fifty years.
We welcome checks, donations of publicly traded stock, or online donations via credit card or PayPal (via the button below). For all the details about making a tax-deductible donation to the Harvard Independent, Inc., please visit our How to Participate page.
On the How to Participate page, you’ll also learn about the Independent’s 50th Anniversary Reunion Weekend in and around Harvard Square in October 2019. At the reunion, we’ll share details about alumni donations to date, and begin our final push to the Commencement 2020 fundraising deadline.
Thank you for your support!
The Campaign for Independence Committee Members
The Campaign for Independence is an all-volunteer effort. We’re currently working to recruit Class Captains to help coordinate outreach to individual alumni. If you’d like to help, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org