Harvard Gaza camp protesters threatened with 'involuntary leave' by new interim prez

The threat comes just two weeks before Harvard is scheduled to hold its Commencement ceremonies.


Alan M. Garber, the Interim President of Harvard University, issued a university-wide email on Monday addressing the ongoing anti-Israel encampment on campus, warning protesters of potential “involuntary leave” if they persist in occupying Harvard Yard.  

Garber's message was straightforward, stating, "The continuation of the encampment presents a significant risk to the educational environment of the University." 

“Those who participate in or perpetuate its continuation will be referred for involuntary leave from their Schools,” he threatened

“The encampment favors the voices of a few over the rights of many who have experienced disruption in how they learn and work at a critical time of the semester,” Garber continued. “I call on those participating in the encampment to end the occupation of Harvard Yard.” 

The encampment, organized by the unrecognized student group "Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine," has been in effect for 13 days on Harvard’s campus. The group has not yet responded publicly to Garber's email, as reported by The Harvard Crimson

The timing of Garber’s communication with the university comes about two weeks before Harvard’s Commencement ceremonies. Garber expressed the university's commitment to ensuring that graduating students can celebrate their milestone without interruption, particularly given the challenges they have faced during the pandemic. 

“The members of the Class of 2024 deserve to enjoy this milestone uninterrupted and unimpeded,” Garber stated. “It would be especially painful if students who graduated from high school or college during the pandemic were denied a full graduation ceremony for a second time.” 

Columbia University, the campus with the one of the most publicized anti-Israel protests, recently announced that it would be canceling its main commencement ceremony as protests and mass arrests have transpired on campus. Garber is likely attempting to ensure that Harvard avoids the same fate. 

In outlining the consequences for protesters, Garber clarified that those placed on involuntary leave would not be permitted to complete exams, reside in campus housing, or remain present on campus until reinstated. 

While Garber did not mention the involvement of law enforcement in removing protesters, stating in the past that this would require a “very high bar,” the presence of suspended students on campus refusing to leave could eventually escalate to police forcefully removing them. 

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