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Harvard strikes deal with anti-Israel protesters to end encampment before commencement


Harvard University agreed to some concessions for anti-Israel agitators in return for them dismantling the protest encampment ahead of the upcoming commencement ceremony, both sides announced Tuesday. 

Harvard Interim President Alan Garber released a message on Tuesday morning announcing that “the protesters agreed to end the encampment in Harvard Yard.” 

“Now that the area is being cleared and in line with the conversation I had with students last week, I will facilitate a meeting with the chair of the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility and other University officials to address questions about the endowment,” Garber wrote. “And, in keeping with my commitment to ongoing and reasoned dialogue, the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and I will meet with students to hear their perspectives on academic matters related to longstanding conflicts in the Middle East.” 

The deal was reached with the student protest group Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine, also known as HOOP, which said in a statement that the encampment “outlasted its utility with respect to our demands.” 

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Anti-Israel encampment at Harvard

Anti-Israel protesters camp in Harvard Yard on April 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

“Encampments are a tactic – a big and beautiful one – in a larger strategy of divestment. Here at Harvard, we believe the utility of this tactic has passed, and we have decided to re-group and carry out this protracted struggle through other means,” the group said in another statement shared on social media. “As a pre-condition for decamping, administration will retract suspensions. Administration has also offered us meetings regarding disclosure and divestment with members of the Harvard Management Company and ‘conversations’ regarding the establishment of a Center for Palestine Studies at Harvard.”

“We are under no illusions: we do not believe these meetings are divestment wins. These side-deals are intended to pacify us away from full disclosure & divestment. Rest assured, they will not,” it added. “The Harvard Liberated Zone ruptured our understanding of what we believed to be possible at an institution that serves as the rotten heart of a dying empire. It brought the student intifada to a school that trembles at the very word. And it grew our organizing power such that we can only come back stronger in our fight for Palestine.” 

Harvard’s commencement is scheduled for May 23. 

Garber – who notably replaced Claudine Gay as leader of the Ivy League school following her congressional testimony failing to condemn genocidal calls for intifada – also said he would expedite reinstatement proceedings for students suspended due to the protest now that the encampment is being removed. 

Police walk past Harvard anti-Israel encampment

University police walk near an anti-Israel encampment on Harvard Yard. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“At Harvard, our Schools have responsibility for our involuntary leave and disciplinary processes,” he said. “With the disruption to the educational environment caused by the encampment now abated, I will ask that the Schools promptly initiate applicable reinstatement proceedings for all individuals who have been placed on involuntary leaves of absence. I will also ask disciplinary boards within each School to evaluate expeditiously, according to their existing practices and precedents, the cases of those who participated in the encampment.” 

“I acknowledge the profound grief that many in our community feel over the tragic effects of the ongoing war,” Garber added. “There will continue to be deep disagreements and strongly felt emotions as we experience pain and distress over events in the wider world. Now more than ever, it is crucial to do what we do at our best, creating conditions for true dialogue, modeling ways to build understanding, empathy, and trust, and pursuing constructive change anchored in the rights and responsibilities we share.” 

Harvard interim president Alan Garber

Harvard University Provost Alan Garber on May 29, 2014. He now serves as interim president of the university and announced a deal with protesters. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Harvard said its president and the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Hopi Hoekstra, will meet with the protesters to discuss the conflict in the Middle East. The protesters said they worked out an agreement to meet with university officials, including the Harvard Management Company, which oversees the world’s largest academic endowment, valued at about $50 billion.

The protesters’ statement said the students will set an agenda, including discussions on disclosure, divestment and reinvestment, and the creation of a Center for Palestine Studies, according to The Associated Press. The students also said Harvard has offered to retract suspensions of more than 20 students and student workers and back down on disciplinary measures faced by 60 more.

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The announcement comes after several other U.S. universities conceded to anti-Israel protesters’ demands to end encampments. Brown and Northwestern granted concessions, including meetings with trustees to discuss divestment and scholarships for Palestinian students. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee said it would call for a cease-fire in Gaza in exchange for the encampment being dismantled.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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