Harvard Prevents Encampment Ringleaders from Graduating after U.S. House Investigation

The Harvard Corporation prevented 12 seniors from graduating Thursday for their involvement with the illegal protest encampment in support of the terrorist organization Hamas. The decision is a rare instance of campus anti-Semitic activists facing real consequences for their lawbreaking. It only came after significant congressional involvement.

To inflict these real consequences, the Harvard Corporation, which governs the school, made the decision to override their own faculty, in favor of preserving the integrity of “Harvard College’s disciplinary processes,” the university newspaper noted. At a regular meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which is usually poorly attended, 115 Harvard faculty turned out to overwhelmingly vote in favor of shielding the anti-Israel protestors from all consequences, and allow the seniors to graduate anyways.

That vote came only three days after the Harvard College Administrative Board had placed 28 students on suspension or academic probation for their involvement with the disruptive pro-terror encampment.

In deciding to overrule the faculty vote, the Harvard Corporation explained that the faculty had simply ignored the Student Handbook, which requires students to be in good standing in order to graduate. “Today, we have voted to confer 1,539 degrees to Harvard College students in good standing,” wrote the corporation. “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.”

While granting that faculty have the right to determine appropriate disciplinary measures for students, Harvard Corporation argued that they didn’t do that. “We respect each faculty’s responsibility to determine appropriate discipline for its students,” they said. “Monday’s faculty vote did not, however, revisit these disciplinary rulings, did not purport to engage in the individualized assessment of each case that would ordinarily be required to do so, and, most importantly, did not claim to restore the students to good standing.”

In other words, the faculty did not argue that the students had not done anything worthy of discipline or that sufficient discipline had already been implemented. They simply declared that the protestors should be immune from the consequences of their actions because it was all for Palestine. It was a political power play.

Acquiescing to this power play would inject more injustice into Harvard’s disciplinary process, protested the corporation. They considered “the inequity of exempting a particular group of students who are not in good standing from established rules, while other seniors with similar status for matters unrelated to Monday’s faculty amendment would be unable to graduate.”

The Harvard Corporation seems to be taking a much harder line against the illegal excesses of pro-Hamas protestors than it did several months ago. This is the same governing board that issued a statement defending Harvard ex-President Claudine Gay before her sudden resignation in early January. Gay faced criticism for refusing before Congress to condemn calls for a genocide of Jews and for widespread plagiarism among her published academic portfolio.

More recently, Harvard executives continued to signal toleration for the anti-Semitic protest. Gay’s replacement, interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber, agreed on May 14 to reinstate suspended protestors and reevaluate the universities investments in exchange for them dismantling their encampment. Harvard University subsequently reinstated over 22 students.

However, the Harvard Corporation seems to have done an about-face after the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee released a report on Friday, which revealed the university had failed to implement the recommendations of its anti-Semitic task force.

House Republicans have held Harvard’s feet to the fire ever since Gay’s disgraceful December testimony, and apparently Harvard got tired of the scathing media attention. It’s relatively easy to defend the indefensible (failing to protect Jews or enforce campus rules) when no one asks any questions. But holding a giant spotlight over the misbehavior quickly makes it awkward for those tasked with defending it. In this case, it took just under a semester for the Harvard Corporation to decide they had had enough.

The Harvard Corporation can now expect to face “a faculty rebellion,” predicted (or promised?) Government Professor Steven Levitsky. An anti-Semitic campus activist group, Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine (whose name implies the Jews don’t deserve a state), also suggested the encampment might return, saying, “If Harvard won’t live up to their promises, we see no reason to live up to ours.”

The Harvard Corporation previously caved to pro-terror activists because it was afraid of the power of students and faculty. Its new willingness to brave their wrath suggests that it is now more afraid of the power of Congress to keep the spotlight on them if they continue to cave. Even if House Republicans can’t pass conservative legislation through a Democrat-controlled Senate or White House, their investigative power can still have an effect on the behavior of places like Harvard.

AUTHOR

Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

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