Harvard blocks graduation for students involved in anti-Israel protest

The prestigious university took action against dozens of students who participated in the occupation encampment protest.

Harvard blocks graduation for students involved in anti-Israel protest
AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File
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Harvard University has reportedly blocked at least 12 seniors from participating in the upcoming commencement celebration due to their involvement in a 20-day anti-Israel protest and encampment. According to The Harvard Crimson, the university's student newspaper, at least 60 students received notices to appear before the Harvard College Administrative Board in connection with the demonstration that lasted nearly three weeks in Harvard Yard.

On Friday, the university suspended five students and placed 20 more on academic probation. Suhaas Bhat, a senior and Rhodes Scholar, addressed the issue during the Class of 2024 Senior Talent Show, stating, "Harvard is not allowing me to graduate this semester for my participation in the encampment."

Bhat also encouraged students to reflect on the meaning of attending the university, freedom of speech, and moral obligations, presumably in reference to Israel's conflict with Hamas and the resulting civilian casualties.

However, the number of civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip is notoriously difficult to track, with the most prevalent estimates relying on unreliable information from Hamas. The United Nations recently reduced its estimate for the number of women and children killed in the conflict, a rough proxy for civilian casualties, after switching its primary data source from the Hamas-run Government Media Office to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

Last week, Harvard reinstated at least 22 students who were placed on involuntary leave as the board investigated the Harvard Yard encampment. The number of outstanding student cases associated with the protest remains unclear.

Harvard University spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo stated that the institution is "committed to applying all policies in a content-neutral manner and per existing regulations as outlined in college and university guidelines."

The anti-Israel protests at Harvard are part of a larger trend of demonstrations at numerous universities since Hamas' terrorist attack on Israel on October 7. These protests have intensified in recent weeks as universities prepare for spring commencement ceremonies.

Harvard's last president, Claudine Gay, resigned from her role following a turbulent and short tenure marred by allegations of being soft on antisemitism and instances of alleged plagiarism in her academic work. In December, Gay apologized for refusing to state that calling for genocide against Jews violated Harvard's rules.

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