The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative announced in a statement Thursday that Theresa Lund, an employee who was filmed asking her neighbor with a biracial child if she lived in one of the “affordable apartments,” has been placed on leave.
Alyson Laliberte shared a video on Facebook, which went viral, of Lund confronting her on Saturday. She called the exchange “totally discriminating and racist” and wrote that Lund approached her outside their Cambridge apartments during the afternoon, asking if she and her daughter would move because her own children were napping.
“We weren’t even being loud at all drawing with chalk,” Laliberte wrote. “She followed me around and harassed me trying to get my information and apartment number as if she had a right to know. When I wouldn’t tell her she proceeded to ask me if I lived in the ‘affordable apartments’ of the building for Cambridge residents or if I lived in one of the Harvard owned apartments (which is all the same building anyways).”
Lund, listed as executive director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, told The Boston Globe in a statement Monday that her reaction during the exchange was “inappropriate and wrong,” saying she was “terribly sorry.”
“I want to be accountable for my actions in a situation where I fell far short of my values and what I expect of myself,” she said. “This clearly wasn’t my best moment, and I have work to do to more consistently be my best self.”
Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard initiative, wrote in the statement published to Facebook that the Harvard group “does not condone [Lund’s] conduct during the exchange with Alyson Laliberte and her family.”
“The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative is an organization that promotes and defends humanitarian principles of service, equity, and justice,” he said. “Our core values of integrity, collaboration, and respect for universal human rights are the foundation of all we do.”
Read the full statement below: