Harvard's New Course: Protesting 101 -- Degrees Not Included, Karma Is A B*tch!

By Alan Hume | Thursday, 23 May 2024 11:10 PM
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Image Credit : Harvard University Media Network

In an unprecedented move, the governing body of Harvard University, known as the Harvard Corporation, has declined a faculty-led initiative to award degrees to students penalized for their involvement in an on-campus anti-Israel protest.

The Harvard Crimson, the university's student newspaper, reported that this decision has heightened existing tensions between the Corporation and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

Government professor Steven Levitsky expressed his concerns to the Crimson, stating, "I would expect a faculty rebellion, possibly a faculty rebellion against the entire governance structure, because there’s already a fair amount of mistrust toward the Corporation to begin with."

The FAS had voted on Monday to adjust the list of degree recipients for the upcoming commencement, intending to include the 13 students who had been notified of disciplinary charges by the Harvard College Administrative Board just three days prior. This decision sparked a conflict between the faculty members, who believed they had the authority to override the Ad Board's disciplinary actions, and the Corporation, which disagreed.

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In a statement released on Wednesday, the Corporation announced, "Today, we have voted to confer 1,539 degrees to Harvard College students in good standing. 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."

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The Corporation referred to the student handbook's rules, which stipulate that students must be in good standing to graduate. They argued that the FAS vote did not nullify the disciplinary action taken against the 13 protesters.

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The Corporation's statement further explained, "Each of these students has been found by the College’s Administrative Board—the body established by the FAS faculty to investigate and adjudicate disciplinary matters—to have violated the University’s policies by their conduct during their participation in the recent encampment in Harvard Yard."

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The Corporation also noted that it would be unjust to allow a specific group of students who are not in good standing to graduate while denying the same opportunity to others facing disciplinary actions unrelated to the protests.

The controversy originated last Friday when the Harvard College Administrative Board suspended five students and placed over 20 others on probation for their participation in an anti-Israel encampment on campus that concluded earlier this month.

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According to the protesters, Harvard Interim President Alan Garber had negotiated an agreement with the student protest group, Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine, to terminate the encampment. The protesters claim that the agreement included a commitment from the university to retract the suspensions, a promise they allege the university has not fulfilled.

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The Harvard Corporation stated that the disciplined students must appeal their punishment through the Ad Board before they can be reinstated to good standing and receive their degrees.

The Corporation's statement concluded, "We understand that the inability to graduate is consequential for students and their families. We fully support the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ stated intention to provide expedited review, at this time, of eligible requests for reconsideration or appeal. We will consider conferral of degrees promptly if, following the completion of all FAS processes, a student becomes eligible to receive a degree."

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