Harvard Board Bars 13 Pro-Palestine Student Protesters from Graduating, Overruling Faculty

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By NTD Newsroom
May 23, 2024US News
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Harvard Board Bars 13 Pro-Palestine Student Protesters from Graduating, Overruling Faculty
A police cruiser sits by tents and signs that fill Harvard Yard by the John Harvard statue in the Pro-Palestinian encampment at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 5, 2024. Pro-Palestinian protests that have rocked US campuses for weeks were more muted Friday after a series of clashes with police, mass arrests and a stern White House directive to restore order. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

The Harvard University administration is remaining steadfast in its decision to sanction a group of 13 students who participated in pro-Palestine protests and stop them from receiving their degrees and graduating from the facility.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) had previously pressured the Harvard Corporation to allow the students to graduate, but their effort was rejected on May 22 in what has been described as an unprecedented move.

“Because the students included as the result of Monday’s amendment are not in good standing, we cannot responsibly vote to award them degrees at this time,” according to a statement by the Harvard Corporation.

The move highlighted brewing tensions between the faculty and administration over the mass protests and encampments relating to the Gaza conflict across college campuses this year.

It follows a recommendation by the FAS on May 20, when over 100 members voted to allow the students to graduate despite their actions and the subsequent disciplinary procedures that followed. The vote came after Harvard’s administration voted to expel the students the week before.

The current veto thereby prevents the students from completing the graduation process.

The conflict has disrupted the standard procedure in what normally constitutes a sealed deal between the faculty and the administration, as both parties generally agree on any given set of measures, thus potentially laying a foundation for a faculty rebellion.

Harvard’s administration initiated a move last week to hold more than two dozen students, which include the group of 13, responsible for their involvement in a pro-Palestine campus encampment that ended earlier this month. Five of the students are set to be suspended, while more than 20 will be sanctioned.

The Harvard Corporation, however, said that the affected students could still receive their degrees, depending on the outcome of their disciplinary cases, upon completion of the standard university process.

“We care deeply about every member of our community — students, facility, staff, researchers and alumni — and we have chosen a path forward that accords with our responsibilities and reaffirms a process for our students to receive prompt and fair review,” the corporation wrote.

Hundreds of college campuses across the country saw major protests and encampments this year over what they deemed an unacceptable response from the Biden administration to the Gaza conflict. Some protesters clashed with police, which led to the arrest of more than 2,000 participants.

The main political focus was cast on Columbia University in New York, which saw the first major encampment, which drew in visits from members of Congress on both sides of the political spectrum and led to dozens of student suspensions.

Police were alerted to the scene to disburse the encampment by force after some protesters seized control of a campus building.

NTD has contacted The Harvard Corporation and the FAS for further comment but did not receive a reply before press time.

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