Pro-Palestinian students reject Harvard president’s plan to end encampment | news

Updated on May 10, 2024 at 2:11 am

Members of the pro-Palestinian camp called on interim university president Alan M. to end a two-week occupation of Harvard Yard and avoid receiving involuntary leave notices. Garber ’76 declined the proposal, according to an Instagram post published just after midnight Friday. By the Camp Guiding Committee.

Facing pressure from her own faculty to negotiate with student protesters, Garber began meeting Wednesday evening with several members of Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine, a coalition of pro-Palestinian student groups. Questions related to protesters’ concerns about Harvard’s investments in Israel.

Harvard spokesman Jonathan L. Swain confirmed Wednesday’s meeting in a statement early Friday morning, which included college dean Rakesh Khurana and two faculty visitors in addition to Garber and the protesters.

HOOP representatives didn’t accept the off-ramp that Garber offered them, and instead responded with a counterproposal of their own. The breakdown in negotiations almost certainly means dozens of students who participated in the camp will soon be placed on involuntary leave from their schools, a fact HOOP acknowledged in a Friday post.

“In short, Garber has ignored us, threatened us, refused to negotiate with us, and will now be the first Harvard president to suspend students altogether for protest,” HOOP wrote.

Garber “has made clear the university’s commitment to fair discussion of complex issues, including the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict,” Swain wrote.

“Yet, as he put it, ‘initiating these difficult and important conversations does not require, or justify, interference with the academic environment and Harvard’s academic work,'” Swain added.

Since the camp’s inception, HOOP has demanded disclosure and divestment of the university from all investments in Israel. However, Garber and other senior Harvard officials have repeatedly indicated that the university will not seek to divest its endowment from Israel — something Garber reaffirmed to HOOP representatives during Wednesday’s meeting.

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Under the involuntary leave, students cannot complete final exams or live in Harvard housing, and must “cease to be on campus until readmitted” — marking the university’s toughest move against protesters since the two camps began. weeks ago.

“Disciplinary procedures and administrative recommendations for placing protesters on involuntary leave continue to advance,” Swain wrote.

“Carber shut down our most basic demands, making it clear that the meeting was not a negotiation, but merely a ‘conversation,'” HOOP wrote. “All he would agree to is the possibility of further ‘dialogues’ – not negotiations – as a condition for immediate removal of the camp.”

Swain confirmed that Garber made it clear to protesters that Wednesday’s meeting was “not a negotiation about the protesters’ demands.”

“He reaffirmed the university’s commitment to being an institution where discussion and debate are central to our work, and there will be more opportunities for constructive conversations on these issues throughout our community in the coming months,” Swain wrote.

The meeting with university officials on Harvard’s grant, which protesters rejected in favor of continuing the occupation, will include at least one member of the corporation’s Committee on Shareholder Responsibility — a committee that decides how the university should vote on shareholder matters related to public investments. Trading companies.

“Because there is no greater sacrifice than Harvard’s complicity in genocide, protesters chose to remain camp,” HOOP wrote in the post. Since its opening on April 24, the camp has expanded to the courtyard area where Harvard’s commencement ceremony is held annually.

The group’s decision to remain in the yard and risk involuntary absences raises the possibility that the Harvard administration may ask the police to remove the camp.

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Although Garber said in an interview last month that there was a “very high hurdle” before asking law enforcement to take action against student protesters, he has signaled in recent days that he doesn’t want to let the camp start to derail.

Swain wrote, “Carber reiterated that the camp should be stopped so that thousands of students at Harvard’s commencement could be recognized for their academic achievement.”

Wednesday’s meeting marked the first time Garber sat down with protesters since the camp began. For the first two weeks of the occupation, Garber ignored the protesters’ repeated calls to the university administration to engage with their demands.

Last week, the committee gave Garber a deadline of 5 p.m. Monday to negotiate with the protesters — a deadline that passed without any approval from the university.

Instead, Garber sent a university-wide email Monday morning to protesters camped out in Harvard Yard threatening “involuntary leave.” Garber’s email did not specify a deadline set by HOOP or express an intention to begin negotiations with the group.

The meeting with Garber comes after HOOP took to social media Wednesday afternoon to accuse university leadership of “repeatedly” ignoring the demands of pro-Palestinian groups and students since October 2023.

HOOP’s Friday morning post also included a screenshot of an email from Garber in which he responded to the team’s decision to reject his plan and stay at camp.

“I regret that you declined this opportunity by deciding to continue the camp,” Garber wrote in the email. “Great, Alan.”

HOOP’s response was in an Instagram post.

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“We regret that you have rejected this opportunity by deciding to continue punishing students for protesting a genocide,” the group wrote. “Great, HOOP.”

—Staff writer Michelle N. Amponsah can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @mnamponsah.

—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on X @joycekim324.

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