Harvard Brokers Deal With Protesters, Ending Pro-Palestinian Encampment on Campus

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
May 14, 2024US News
Harvard Brokers Deal With Protesters, Ending Pro-Palestinian Encampment on Campus
Tents and signs fill Harvard Yard by the John Harvard statue in the Pro-Palestinian encampment at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 5, 2024. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Harvard University said Tuesday they have ended their campus occupations in exchange for the reinstatement of their comrades who have been suspended.

“Yesterday, the Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine (HOOP) coalition democratically voted to end its encampment after 20 days,” the group, which is not an officially recognized student organization, wrote in a statement on Instagram.

The decision to unwind the encampment came after interim Harvard President Alan Garber and HOOP organizers brokered a deal that would allow at least 22 students to be reinstated from involuntary leaves of absence.

In addition, the Ivy League university offered protesters face time with members of Harvard Management Company, which oversees a $50 billion endowment, to learn how endowment funds are invested and make a pitch for “divestment”—that is, withdrawing endowment investments in companies that do business with Israel.

According to HOOP, the university has also agreed to consider establishing a center for Palestine studies. Harvard already has a Center for Middle East Studies that hosts events featuring prominent figures such as Palestinian diplomat Husam Zomlot.

“We are under no illusions: we do not not believe these meetings are divestment wins,” the coalition added. “These side-deals are intended to pacify us away from full disclosure & divestment. Rest assured, they will not.”

The agreement to dismantle one of the most high-profile Gaza War protest encampments in the nation comes shortly after Harvard scaled up pressure on the encamped students, warning that those who remain in their self-proclaimed “Liberated Zone” would face suspension and would not be able to take their finals or stay in Harvard dorms.

“The continuation of the encampment presents a significant risk to the educational environment,” Mr. Garber wrote in a May 6 email to students and alumni. “Those who participate in or perpetuate its continuation will be referred for involuntary leave from their Schools.”

“Among other implications, students placed on involuntary leave may not be able to sit for exams, may not continue to reside in Harvard housing, and must cease to be present on campus until reinstated,” he warned.

On May 10, the Harvxrd Palestine Solidarity Committee, a protest group within HOOP, posted on X that some students involved in the encampment had received suspension notices. Student newspaper Harvard Crimson reported that at least 11 of the 20 students who received involuntary leave of absence notices were undergraduates.

Jewish Alumni Express Disappointment

The Harvard Jewish Alumni Alliance, which has been playing a leading role in advocating against anti-Semitic rhetoric on campus in the aftermath of the Oct. 7, 2023 massacre, said they are disappointed by the concessions made to those who “brazenly disobeyed university rules.”

“As we understand it, interim-President Garber is giving preferential treatment to students, faculty and staff whose conduct not only targeted Jews but also disrupted and imperiled the wider Harvard community,” the alliance said in a message to its members and shared with The Epoch Times via email.

“To us, this is gross mis-governance and undermines the stated mission of the University. Instead of expelling students and firing faculty and staff related to the encampment, Garber is rewarding them,” it added.

Universities Took Different Approaches

Harvard is one of a handful of universities that have been able to end pro-Palestinian protests on their campuses without the use of police force. Other schools that negotiated peaceful resolutions included Brown, Rutgers, and Northwestern Universities, although the latter two now face congressional inquiry for their decision to offer protesters concessions on their demands in exchange for clearing their encampments.

At the neighboring Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), President Sally Kornbluth took a step further by calling in police to arrest student protesters who failed to pack their belongings and vacate the school lawn they had occupied before a deadline he had set.

“No matter how peaceful the students’ behavior may be, unilaterally taking over a central portion of our campus for one side of a hotly disputed issue and precluding use by other members of our community is not right,” Ms. Kornbluth wrote in a May 6 letter to the campus community, demanding that protesters leave before 2:30 p.m. that day.

MIT officials have also warned said students who remained at the MIT encampment after the deadline would be placed on immediate interim academic suspension through commencement and referred to the school’s disciplinary committee. Those who remained and already have cases pending would be banned from staying in campus housing or using dining halls.

In the early morning of May 10, MIT and Cambridge police arrested 10 last remaining protesters and cleared out their tents. Ms. Kornbluth said the 10 individuals “did not resist arrest” and were taken off campus for booking.

From The Epoch Times

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