May 13, 2024 - News

Harvard Yard encampment remains amid campus protest arrests

A look at the Harvard Yard pro-Palestinian encampment from outside the gate, with signs that say "Liberated Zone" and "Landback."

Harvard Yard's encampment on Sunday. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

The pro-Palestinian encampment in Harvard Yard lives on, even as student protesters get booted off campus.

The big picture: This historic college town, one of the epicenters for U.S. campus protests against Israel's ground invasion in Gaza, has one major encampment left standing in Harvard Yard as students call on the university to cut ties with the Israeli government.

  • Police have arrested protesters at Emerson College, Northeastern and MIT and cleared the tents there.

State of play: Harvard began suspending people who didn't leave the encampment Friday.

  • The suspensions come as final exams are underway.
  • Suspended students can't sit for exams, participate in commencement or stay in student housing, the Boston Globe reported.

The latest: Harvard interim president Alan Garber refused to negotiate with student protesters despite meeting with them Wednesday, according to a statement from the group, Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine.

  • A spokesman said Garber offered to organize a meeting with students and university officials to address questions about the endowment if the encampment ended voluntarily.
  • HOOP said in a statement, "In no way did we believe nor express that scheduling these meetings would result in the encampment coming down."
  • In a screenshot shared by HOOP, Garber appeared to write, "I regret that you declined this opportunity by deciding to continue the encampment." A spokesman also told Axios Garber regrets that protesters decided to continue the encampment.

Garber said the encampment "must end so that thousands of students can be recognized for their academic achievement at Harvard's commencement," spokesman Jason Newton told Axios in an email.

  • Commencement is set for May 23 in Harvard Yard.
  • Newton also said the encampment must end so that "disciplinary procedures and administrative referrals for placing protesters on involuntary leave continue to move forward."

What they're saying: Kojo Acheampong, a Harvard sophomore studying computer science and an organizer, told the Globe he's mentally prepared for the consequences of continuing the encampment in Harvard Yard.

  • "I'm proud of the history of organizers who fought against South Africa, Vietnam, proper liberation of all people," Acheampong said. "So this type of repression means that we're doing our job."
  • Asked about the possibility of being arrested, Acheampong said, "I'm genuinely not worried, because I know that we're on the right side of history."

The other side: Harvard faces a federal lawsuit from a group of Jewish students, alleging a lack of action against antisemitism on campus.

  • Maya Shiloni, an opinion writer for the Harvard Crimson, wrote that antisemitism has been widespread with people perpetuating the myth that Jewish people control the media and Harvard.
  • Shiloni also referred to Jewish people being called "Zionists" as a slur and said Jewish people were being called "colonialists" while "living in our indigenous land."
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