Harvard University Security, Parking and Museum Guards Union
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June 19, 2003

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to tell you about my experiences with Billy Duarte, the long-time security guard at Mather House, Harvard College. I got to know Billy initially while I was serving as a resident tutor in Mather House for two years. We have stayed in touch since then, as I return from time to time in my capacity as a member of the Mather Senior Common Room. Billy Duarte is an extraordinary person. He is enormously dedicated to Mather House and to Harvard College. He is a wonderful asset to our community.

Billy Duarte stands out primarily because cares about students, tutors and faculty in the Mather House community. Billy gets to know an amazing number of people by name. It is a commonplace on a pleasant evening to see Billy sitting outside the Superintendent's Office with a group of students hanging out with him. He eats in the dining hall, walks the floors of the building, and goes in and out of his office with regularity. He always seems to be around. Billy always has a joke or a kind word. Billy has a quick smile, a great laugh and an infectious, positive energy. He is beloved by many who have spent time in Mather over the past several years. People talk about him even after they leave, remembering Billy as a very positive part of their residential experience.

Billy's contributions to house life are often out of the ordinary and even on his own time. I will always remember the summer cook-out that Billy and I organized for tutors and students who had stayed local to Mather House In the courtyard a few Augusts ago. Bi11y and I talked every night for weeks about the steak tips he planned to bring, the marinade he had prepared and how much fun we were going to have. The cook-out was a terrific, relaxed time, just what the residential university experience should be like. Billy was true to his word: a masterful hand at the grill, all decked out with his apron and tongs. His steak tips, perhaps needless to say, won rave reviews.

Billy is a very perceptive guard. He knows when residents come and go from the house. When your routine changes, he notices and mentions it to you. Billy is always there when a loud noise rings out or a party grows too loud. He has a persuasive manner, but he does not bully the students unnecessarily. He looks out for the Mather residents. Billy gives people who live in Mather a positive sense of security when he is on the job.

Billy Duarte is one of the best staff members I've encountered at Harvard. He loves his job, cares about the students, and makes a difference to people every day. I do not know the precise details about the decision that the university has to make related to the provision of security guard services. I recognize that the Deans and the House Masters need to have flexibility in their decision-making. But I believe that it would be terribly short-sighted to put at risk Billy Duarte's job as a security guard. He is a part of what makes this university great, and he should be honored for it.

I would be pleased to speak further about this matter should you have any questions.

Sincerely yours,
John G. P., Jr.
Harvard College, AB. 1994 (Mather undergraduate)
Harvard Law School, J.D. 2001 (Mather resident tutor)
Mather House Senior Common Room, 2001- present

Site Editor: Howard Reid
Last updated 10/01/2003.  Published by the Harvard University Security, Parking and Museum Guards Union.