Harvard University came to the forefront of student news recently when it was discovered that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer may be spying on them.

Last autumn, while students were protesting on campus against the pharmaceutical company’s financial influence in university affairs an employee of Pfizer was observed photographing students.

Bizarrely, and somewhat worryingly, the company insists that the employee in question was taking pictures of the students purely for his own use. They have refused to release his name.

One of the aims of the four year old campaign that organised the rally in question was to force Pfizer to release full details of its financial involvement in the university. Their interest in the university is extensive. They contribute, directly, $350,000 to the medical school; finance two research projects there; and, the Guardian claims, pay 149 faculty members.

The campaign echoes our own ‘Sussex Not For Sale’, which lobbies to “counter creeping privatisation”. One student here at Sussex expressed her views about the incident saying that she is “worried” about the “ridiculous invasion” that Pfizer perpetrated.

Responding to news of the clandestine actions of the worldwide drug manufacturer Senator Chuck Grassley sent the company a letter demanding all communications and photographs relating to Harvard Students since the beginning of 2008 be sent to him.

The University of Harvard has strong links with both Cambridge University and Kings College London. Its academic reach extends across the globe. Pfizer employs 4,000 people in the UK mainly at its UK headquarters in Kent.

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