Curb the Foul Language, You Cads, This is Harvard

Photo by Doug88888 via Flickr

Whatever construction company is doing the renovations at Harvard this summer must be an awesome place to work. The bosses at Shawmut Design and Construction made a special request that their employees be on their best behavior — to avoid cursing, drinking, or doing drugs — while on the job. Which sort of implies that the employees are free to drink, smoke, curse, carouse, or whatever else on other job sites. Finally, an employer that understands the modern workforce. Someone get the Nobel committee on the phone.

Of course, visionaries are always dealing with the naysayers, and as they say, madness — or in this case, anger — precedes genius. This time it was Harvard students who objected to the construction workers being asked to behave differently just because they’re working on that hallowed slice of land in Cambridge. Student Avinaash Subramaniam was quoted in the Harvard Crimson as calling the sign “ridiculous” for its patronizing tone. Others complained that such signs put the Big H on a pedestal, which is what the rest of the world thinks anyway — and the image that the school projects, I might add.

Here’s what the Crimson reported about the sign’s message:

The text of the sign informed workers that they are “working within an operational environment on a world famous campus,” and asked them to “please display the highest level of respect for the students, faculty, and their campus at all times.”

The sign noted that this meant no swearing, “inappropriate comments,” smoking, as well as “zero(!) tolerance for drugs and/or alcohol.” Workers were also expected to keep noise as low as possible, not park on campus, and were instructed to not enter any other campus buildings.

So now the signs, which have reportedly been used in other years on other projects without getting the collegiate panties all in a bunch, are gone, and the construction workers, well, who knows what kind of education they’re going to impart on the Harvard summer-session elite. I’m guessing it’s a few dropped R’s and maybe some good insight into last night’s Sox game. But whatever happens, I hope the managers at Shawmut Design and Construction are undeterred by all the negative comments. They are, after all, giving the implicit blessing that workers may make merry on other jobs.

Hey, no one said it was easy being a free thinker.

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